The Reading List: Comic Book Reviews Feb 26 2014

Welcome to The Reading List!
Every week I’ll be sharing what I think are the highlights of the latest releases, including a few thoughts on what I liked, what I didn’t, and what I think you should be reading too. 
If I’ve not mentioned something you think I should read, or want to let me know your thoughts on any of the new issues then drop me a message.
If you’ve read my blog before I do lean towards Marvel/Image/Indie over DC, although I’m working on getting caught up on the New 52 in order to provide a more thorough weekly recap (weekap? No), so don’t be surprised if you don’t see many DC reviews on here.

Also: this is an open discussion of my personal thoughts on each issue as I’ve read them, therefore need I say…
You have been warned.
Let’s get started! 

Superior Spider-Man #28

Slott, Camuncoli, Dell, Fabela.
This may end up being somewhat of a spoiler, I don’t have a crystal ball though so it’s purely speculation at this stage but…is the Goblin King actually the Goblin Queen? There were a fair few indications, such as choice of phrasing, facial characteristics…it may be a red herring but I kind of get the feeling there’s a woman under that mask. The only criticism I have is that this comic can’t come out fast enough. It’s hurtling toward its conclusion now, all the pieces are coming together to tear Otto Parker apart. Now all I need to figure out is who exactly is this head Goblin Honcho…

Wolverine and the X-Men #42

Jason Aaron ‘and Friends’
So this is the end, and what a way to go. Proving why it’s called Wolverine and the X-Men, this issue focuses on the present and the future of our short furry Canadian friend, and in just a few touching scenes we see that Logan really is growing, that those people laughing at him taking over as headmaster of a school (including a lot of fans) aren’t laughing anymore. Jason Aaron has taken him and all the students on a real journey that I hope isn’t lost with the change of creative team. Another character that’s changed is Quentin Quire who shares focus in this final issue, proving even more irrefutably that this was the little x-book that could, one that mattered and one that (no matter how good the new volume is) will definitely be missed. Pretty much every artist shows up to say their goodbyes too, and while the shifts aren’t always seamless, there’s no denying this book has seen some gorgeous art. Roll on the new term!

Uncanny Avengers #17

Remender, McNiven, Leisten, Martin.
Ok, wait. What just happened?! The dial gets cranked up to the max in this, the first of 3 Remender titles this week. I say up to the max but what I mean is, the dial gets cranked up so high it gets wrenched off, mutilated and set on fire.The events of this issue go so far that the only way for this to not be the last ever issue of any Marvel comic ever is for some crazy Age of Ultron style shenanigans. Which is fine – it’s a shame that this has turned into that kind of story but you know what? It’s doing it so much better than AoU ever did. It feels more final, more end-of-the-worldy and like all of the deaths matter. I’ve loved this book since issue 1 and even though this storyline may cause a few people to write off the whole book, I still absolutely love what Remender’s doing here, I’m fascinated as to where it’s going next and Steve McNiven on art is always going to make me happy. And to those who may not like where this story will now have to go I ask; what did you expect with Kang the Conqueror in the mix?! 

Hawkeye #15

Fraction, Aja, Hollingsworth, Eliopoulos.
Do you really want to read about another person telling you to go buy this comic? If you’re not reading this title by now then nothing I say will change anything. The art, the layouts, the humour, the voices – all perfect. Those four aspects mean I don’t even need the story to be that good, but dammit if it doesn’t have that too. This issue returns our focus back to the east coast and back to Hawkguy (as I will never not call him), and I genuinely wasn’t expecting the last page one-two punch to give me even more of a reason to come back for more. Ignoring the weird scheduling blip (we’ve already read the next issue, it’s issue 17 that’s next), there’s a reason every other All-New Marvel title is taking on elements of Hawkeye. Ever the original, still the best.

Guardians of the Galaxy #12

Bendis, Pichelli, Immonen, von Grawbadger, Ponsor.
Some people laugh when I say Cyclops is one of my favourite X-Men, but I don’t care. He’s always been one of the most fleshed out and nuanced of the characters, and for those fans of Scott Summers like me this issue is a treat. Starting with a flashback to a crucial part of his backstory, we get a glimpse of the last time he saw his dad, then cut to the present day where past Cyclops meets his father for the first time, again. Time Travel! 
The Trial of Jean Grey is moving forward at a swift pace, this already being part 4, and I was definitely getting a Star Trek VI vibe as the Shiar courtroom drama gets underway (that’s a good thing. It’s one of the good Star Trek films). The highlights are again the small character moments that Bendis is so good at – Scott and Corsair, Scott and X-23, Kitty and Star-Lord; all beat-perfect interactions. The art by Pichelli and Immonen is among the best on the stands too, not many people can have a two page splash of the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Starjammers and the All-New X-Men all in a room sat around talking and make it look effortlessly beautiful. Not exactly one for fans of the GotG as they don’t make much of a mark on the story but the crossover as a whole is going great, and this chapter is no exception.

Wolverine #2

Cornell, Stegman, Morales, Curiel.
So I decided to come back for issue two, which I’m pleased about, but I was definitely not sure I would following that first issue. Turns out it was just the right amount of absolute WTF-ery to make me come back for more though. While Wolverine #2 isn’t as totally confusing as #1 there’s still a lot of unanswered questions that I’m asking, most important of which is – do I care enough to keep reading? I’ll give it one more go, because I definitely enjoyed this issue more. I liked the numerous ties to other series (Otto Parker fighting off Goblin Henchman, Kitty and Cyclops in the new Xavier school, even Logan referencing the latest Avengers issues by revealing to Spidey that he’s been ‘benched’) all helps to make this book feel current and somehow relevant, and yet for the life of me I can’t shake the feeling that it’s…not. Maybe I’m just not a fan of Wolverine’s new Killable status quo, or more that I’m not sure I’m enjoying what’s being done with it. As I say, I’ll give it one more go.

Daredevil – Road Warrier #1

Waid, Krause, Kalisz.
Well I really wasn’t expecting this. I’m not sure how or why this evaded my notice but I had no idea this was being released. Still, it’s a very pleasant and welcome surprise. Bridging the gap between volume one and volume two of Mark Waid’s now legendary Daredevil run, this story covers what happens on Matt’s cross country flight, because you know, nothing normal can go without a hitch when you’re a super hero! I’m a fan of the infinite comics and what they represent moving the medium forward, and there’s a few times Matt’s ‘radar sense’ gets to play with the format nicely. To me though the best part is just having more Daredevil! Not that Marvel’s new turnarounds from ‘Finale!’ to ‘All-New!’ really gives anyone chance to suffer from withdrawal mind you…

Black Science #4

Remender, Scalera, White
I doubt there’s anything more original than Black Science out there right now. I don’t know for certain (I don’t read all of the comics) but it’s constantly throwing new things at the team of Anarchist Scientists, which is good because anything less than complete originality would detract from the premise of taking a group of people and having them fly blindly into the unknown. Another brilliant issue this, as Mckay and the team finally make it away from the sheer madness of the armoured Native Americans (mostly) and into what appears to be relative safety. For now. I love the genuine sense that these characters are only just escaping, by a hair’s breadth they are just abut scraping through; add that to the fact that you really can’t tell who will be alive by the end of the next issue and you get a really tense, unpredictable rollercoaster. Plus those covers. Man they are extremely pretty covers. 

Deadly Class #2

Remender, Craig, Loughridge
After reading and enjoying the last issue (and loving Rick Remender’s other work – see above) I decided to pick up issue 2 and see where Deadly Class is heading. The first few pages were so far so meh, with Marcus getting the new boy treatment from everyone he meets. I was starting to wonder where the 80’s influence was that permeated through the last issue and around which all the promotional material was based. And then Marcus met up with the Breakfast Club, or at least Remender’s twisted version of it. With a literal “Fuck John Hughes” (and I mean literal, it’s the first thing you hear the group say) suddenly the 80’s are alive and well and looking to kill someone. From Marcus’ personal vendetta against Ronald Reagan to the run down of the school’s cliques from pudgy sidekick Shabnam the spirit of the period pratically drips from the page. Hell, there’s even a playlist for each of the main characters in the back of the book! I love it when comics do that, it really adds something when you re-read the issue. There’s an epilogue of sorts to the issue too that sets up things to come, as well as revealng more disturbng secrets about the main protagonist…

Empire of the Dead #2

Romero, Maleev.
If the last page or two of the first issue kind of threw you for a loop, then you may want to give this series a miss. This is getting further and further away from the original source material, and I can’t really say I’m on board. I know that some hardcore fans of Romero are seeing the inclusion of vampires in his mythology a serious misstep and I’m not sure I disagree. I was really enjoying issue 1 – even including the sketchy retcon of the original movie, it’s not a film I’m particularly precious about – but then the final page reveal that one of the characters is a vampire, and then this issue expanding on that to say there are hundreds? It’s going to be a hard sell to get people on board, even with Maleev’s gorgeous art. It may have Romero’s name on the front, but I can’t really see how this can be seen as a zombie story when they have no choice but to follow this Vampire plotline for as far as it’ll take them.

X-O Manowar #22

Venditti, Nord, Cifuentes.
So following the clash between the unstoppable force that is Toyo Harada and the immovable object that is X-O Manowar over in Unity, there comes another change in circumstance for Aric of Dacia. While not nearly as enjoyable as Harbinger Wars, the Unity crossover was a lot of fun, and it’ll be interesting seeing how long this new status quo lasts for time-displaced Visigoths. Valiant can seriously do no wrong in my eyes, and I’m enjoying every single title they bring out. I love the energy, I love the unpredictable narratives and I love the shared world that is slowly being built up. The artwork on this issue isn’t the best I’ve seen on this title, but is still competent enough to carry the momentum of the action scenes as well as portray the quieter moments well. More of a transitional issue I feel, but still a solid read.

And that’s it for another week! A strong week at Marvel and a lot of indies to get through (too many for me to squeeze into this article!) but a pretty solid week all round. Hooray for everything!
Until next time,

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