This Week in Comics! – March 12th 2014

Welcome to This Week in Comics! Ok, so if you’ve read my blog before, this used to be called the Reading List, but I felt like a change (it’s as good as a rest don’t ya know), so I’m shaking it all up a little.

Nevertheless this is my weekly column where I go through the new comics releases that I read every week, what I liked and what I didn’t. Safe to say there’ll be some spoilers but I’ll try to keep them light.

So if you’re looking for what to read or just some random guy’s opinion on the comics he read this week (that’s me. Hi there!) then join me as I separate the BEST from the REST in This Week in Comics!

PS – I’ve also reviewed this week’s Valiant comics over at the excellent site IndieAltRepeat which you can see by clicking here!

The Best (My personal favorites from this week’s releases)


All-New X-Men #24



Marvel. Bendis, Immonen, von Grawbadger, Gracia.

The Trial of Jean Grey continues. Even though the trial itself suffers a bit of a bureaucratic false start, the action doesn’t let up. With as many as 6 (6!) double page spreads the artwork is always my favourite part of this series. They could all do nothing but sit around talking for the entire issue (and with Bendis that’s a real possibility) and I would still rate this as one of my highlights of the week. Nearing the end of this particular crossover but there’s great progression, brilliant character moments (expect much Angela and Gamora shipping on Tumblr, if there isn’t already!) and an ending that sets up the final part to come really well.


Black Widow #4



Marvel. Edmonson, Noto.

Natasha sure does get a lot more done with her time away from the Avengers than Clint Barton does. It’s easy to compare this book with Hawkeye, but mainly because they’re both awesome. Seriously, if you’re a Marvel fan then you’re reading this book, and if you’re not a marvel fan you should still be reading this book. While, yes, it does share similarities with Fraction’s HawkGuy, the biggest similarity is that they take a character that’s well established by now and put a fresh, almost creator-owned coat of paint on them. Other than that they’re completely unique in their look and approach.

The whole “what they do in their spare time” conceit is purely set-up, as I’m sure Black Widow wouldn’t call what she does here ‘spare time’ at all. This book contains a religious zealot taking pop shots at her with twin rocket launchers for crying out loud! Not anyone’s idea of a day off is it?

Beautiful art, great inner monologue of Widow running throughout, give this book a go.


Captain Marvel #1



Marvel. DeConnick, Lopez, Loughridge.

I was genuinely surprised by this one. Never having read Captain Marvel before but always hearing great things, I thought I’d give the series a go now they have a new number 1 (maybe the constant relaunches do work?!) and I’m really glad I did.

The stream of supporting characters took me a little while to grasp, having not read any of the last volume, but they were all written well with their own individual voices, no more so than Carol herself. Genuine warmth and humour throughout the book too, which only drew me in more. The story set up/character epiphany is much like what Iron Man went through before he jetted off to space a while ago, but done a lot better, with more subtlety and believability to it.

One thing though. These Marvelites have a tendency to suddenly decide that “hey, I wanna go into space!” And just take off. I mean. Space is MASSIVE, and us humans are tiiiiiny. It would take her months to fly anywhere near Mars, let alone alien worlds. And the odds of running into anyone else would be infinitesimally minute surely? Just an amusing aside. Otherwise a definite hit.



Fantastic Four #2



Marvel. Robinson, Kirk, Kesel, Aburtov.

So the FF are being put through the wringer, emotionally and physically, and it’s all James Robinson’s fault. The Fantastic Four (and all of Manhattan) spend the book dealing with the bugsplosion from the end of last issue, with Sue’s morose letter being replaced with Reed’s morose inner monologue. Due to the subject matter and story Robinson’s setting up there’s not nearly enough of the humor or whimsical charm that I love about the FF in this issue, and there’s more than a faint whiff of the Marvel Knights 4 series from about 10 years ago, where Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa took a more serious tone to Marvel’s First Family, with mixed results. Saying that this relaunch has gotten me back into what once was my favourite series (I didn’t really connect with Fraction’s run), so that’s a big plus, as well as Kirk’s art being, well, fantastic.


The Returning #1



BOOM! Studios. Starr, Mutti.

If anyone watched the recent French series Les Revenants, they’ll be familiar with the core concept of The Returning. For those who don’t happen to catch obscure French television (you really should though, that was a great series) the premise is that the dead are coming back to life. Don’t worry, it’s not another zombie book, rather that occasionally, instead of dying, people suffer what’s known as NDEs, or Near Death Experiences, and come back from a recent death…changed. As in, committing-murders-and-acts-of-brutality changed. Yeah.

That’s the fate facing our main character Beth then who gets into a fatal accident and wakes up as a Changer, except she’s not changed. Try telling her friends and family that however…

It’s all very mysterious and definitely has me hooked. The art is dark and murky, like the subject matter, with a couple of gruesome scenes (most grotesque of which is a glimpse at what awaits on ‘the other side’) stealing the show. Only four issues long too so worth picking up you guys.


The Royals: Masters of War #2



Vertigo. Williams, Coleby.

For those who missed the first issue of this 6-part series last time, the premise is basic – what if Royalty (from any/every country but with the story focusing predominantly on the British Monarchy) had superpowers? And what if said Royalty decided to take a more active role in the theatre of World War II? Well I can safely answer both of those questions with one definite answer: Awesomeness ensues.
This is shaping up to be a great series, taking real historical figures and situations and theorizing about how adding super-powered monarchs into the mix would affect proceedings, the results of which may surprise you the further into the series you get.

Issue two brings us deeper into the history books then, with appearances from Churchill, Hoover and a climax in Pearl Harbour. All while poshos fly around and what not. Great stuff!


Secret Avengers #1



Marvel. Kot, Walsh, Wilson.

Another surprising number one from Marvel this week. They’re spoiling us. I dropped off Secret Avengers because, well, I just couldn’t bring myself to care really. All the pieces were there but…I dunno…no.

Not so this time around though. Ales Kot injects some fun and irreverence into the mix, taking all the same characters from the previous volume (including MODOK WOOOO! That’s me, expressing my undying love for Marvel’s large-headed and frankly ridiculous…ly made-of-win villain), dusting all the doom, gloom and seriousness off of them and bringing back the energy the previous iteration was missing.

Put simply, this is a SHIELD book that includes some of the more street level Avengers mostly-voluntarily working for the security agency to do whatever needs to be done. Shenanigans result.

While I’m gutted the whole issue wasn’t drawn by the cover artist Trad Moore, the art on Secret Avengers #1 is still spot on. Stealing more than a page from Aja’s Hawkeye in both layout and style is always going to put you on to a winner though so it all fits together with the overall tone of this – the newest, and frankly best – take on the title.

Action! Intrigue! Nudity! MODOK!! It has it all, this.


X-Men Legacy #300



Marvel. Carey, Gage, Spurrier, Huat, Kurth, Sandoval.

And our final surprise this week is…drumroll….well, X-Men Legacy. The title is like, right above, you guys.

I picked this up on a whim because I like commemorative issues. I didn’t read the Legion-centric Legacy run by returning talent Spurrier and Huat so thought I may be lost, but if you are in any way an X-Men fan then you already have enough prior knowledge to enjoy this completely standalone issue. I’m not going to spoil anything about the story, other than to say you may well have some, if not all of the feels. You have been warned. I mean, it’s nothing compared to last week’s Afterlife with Archie but still. Feels may be had.


The Rest (not necessarily bad, but not quite good enough to be among the Best)


Daredevil Road Warrior #3 (Marvel. Waid, Krause, Kalisz)

While in no way a bad book (Waid’s Daredevil is always a treat), I’m not really feeling this Infinite miniseries. The villain is kind of bland and forgettable, and the Infinite format is not really being pushed to the limit here – this could just be a regular print issue and not suffer because of it. Not bad, but not up to the incredibly high bar they’ve set for themselves. I just can’t wait for the new relaunch.

Egos #3 (Image. Moore, Storms)

I’m still definitely enjoying this series, but this issue feels sandwiched between a solid start to the series and what I expect will be a subsequent issue in which the characters will really establish themselves and start to come into their own more. Only a slight dip in quality in terms of storyline for me, but it’s earned the benefit of the doubt so far so I’ll see how next issue pans out.

Hawkeye #17 (Marvel. Fraction, Eliopoulos, Aja, Bellaire)

This was a tough decision to make and one I never thought I’d have to do with Hawkeye, but when anything (be it comic, TV show or whatever) follows such a nail-biting cliffhanger with not only a flashback but a departure to a holiday-themed cartoon within a flashback, I can’t in all good conscience put it among the best of the week.

Monster and Madman #1 (IDW. Niles, Worm)

The art in this issue is stunning, and the premise (Frankenstein’s Creature, fresh from the conclusion of the novel, runs into Jack the Ripper in Victorian London) is definitely intriguing and nearly made it into the Best list, but The Madman of the title only appeared on the final page, so the interplay between the two characters won’t be seen until (hopefully) next issue. Still. Gorgeous art.

Superior Spider-Man #29 (Marvel. Slott, Gage, Camuncoli, Dell, Fabela)

Another tough one, because I’m a big fan of this run and the whole Goblin Nation storyline so far, but with only 2 issues to go I was expecting more revelations and more plot progression this close to the end. Each of these last few issues have ratchet up the tension and claustrophobia of SpOck’s hopelessly desperate situation, but here nothing seemed to land properly. There were many explosions which only worsened poor Otto’s world, but a semi-major death didn’t resonate, and the final ‘reveal’ only seemed to mock the lack of real resolution. I’m still enjoying this don’t get me wrong and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out, but this issue? Wasn’t feeling it.

Wolverine #3 (Marvel. Cornell, Stegman, Morales, Curiel)

Well, I said last time I’d give this series one more go and I have done. What can I say? The art is awesome, Stegman has never done better work than this, but the story is still lacking. It had some interesting moments (the inclusion of the adjective-less X-team definitely boosted the book) and there are some interesting progressions that will probably keep me coming back for another go but with so many great books coming out at the moment this is close to being dropped.

And that’s it for another week! I can never get around to reading everything that came out, so keep an eye on my twitter feed for updates on anything not included here, but otherwise I’ll see you next week!

Until next time,

Matt

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