Wowsers! After reading Superman Unchained #1 and watching Man of Steel in theaters the next day, I can say I’ve had my fill of Superman for the month. Welcome to another weekly review of book releases, and what may be the biggest book dropped by DC Comics this year! Let’s not waste any time, start reading!
Superman Unchained #1:
With all the hype and hoopla, I told you guys I would give an ‘unchained’ review on the latest super-powered Kal-El book brought to us by the incredible teamforce of writer Scott Snyder and artist Jim Lee, which includes the usual company of Scott Williams hard-inking and Alex Sinclair bring the pain in color. I bit my lip and waited patiently since the announcement in October 2012 to see what we’d get, because quite frankly many of us don’t like Superman being a general and superficial character. Right off the bat, the first thing we earned for picking up this book is something new; the first Superman appearance in the comic is this snazzy fold out, the very first double-sided vertical gatefold poster featured in a comic book. Terrific. I was so impressed that I took a photo at my comic shop and threw it up on Instagram, but I won’t let that deter me from being honest about THE REST of the book! I’ll admit the poster was very high detailed though, and I saw myself looking at it several times. May even yank it out and put it on my wall.
The rest of the book went on to be good entry title as we’d expect from Scott Snyder. I had faith and knew that he would do his part. But the truth is that Jim Lee didn’t bring tears of joy to our eyes like he did with Justice League #1, and yes I’m on to your secret, Jim Lee. I can sense you left a pretty empty pencil set for Scott Williams to ink, leaving him to fill in whatever he thought necessary to be included. On then opening pages right after the fold out poster, we’re left absent of the attention to detail which makes Jim Lee the signature premiere artist we’ve known him for being. I don’t understand what the damn rush is for, this was a project many months in planning… This erects a big fear in me that Jim Lee will once again start a great series and then pass it off in a few issues to the next available artist.
So why am I still excited for this series? Well, if I were Jim, I would be thanking the Comic Gods for Alex Sinclair going above and beyond with his input and invincible talent of coloring. From the impact points of lasers hitting targets, to floating digital layouts, heat waves and ashes, and even bubbles bursting underwater, I was stunned at how much detail Alex added to the book and I’m sure he did these things out of his nature of being a seasoned perfectionist and not because anyone requested him to.
Alex Sinclair’s coloring has been the complimenting finishing touch to many familiar, beautiful art pieces brought to us by Jim Lee in the past. Often times the colorists don’t get the recognition they deserve but I strongly believe Alex’s colors are what make Superman Unchained #1 the visually appealing title we expected it to be. Ten years ago when Alex Sinclair dropped the colors on Batman: HUSH, specifically when Superman attacks Batman, I knew Alex’s skill and ability to distribute colors was many years ahead of our time! In this book he proves that he still is second to none and a strong support on a title where Jim Lee alone wasn’t able to leave us drooling like toddlers, like how he’s known to usually do.
The book also came at an introductory price of $4.99, which drops down to industry standard $3.99 for issue #2. I guess us fans have to cough up the extra buck for the super fancy poster… Bottom line: Keep it up Scott Snyder! Alex Sinclair – we see you too, man! And I’m sorry Jim, but we hope upcoming issues come as breathtaking as Justice League arrived to us. I mean, it’s not like you’re busy finishing doing anything like All-Star Batman and Robin: The Boy Wonder that you started eight years ago…
No one really likes reboots, origin stories, retcons, or anything that generally isn’t progressive in story telling of our characters. What Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are doing is giving us a 13-issue flashback arc titled ‘Zero Year’, which implies what happened 365 days before we got ‘Batman: Year One’. Being that this is the second of four Scott Snyder books out monthly, the book is also steady and solid. It seems Snyder can handle Batman with comfort and ease without letting other projects disturb the headlining Bat-title. Like a lot of people, we were expecting this to be a force-fed issue but it came very smooth and easy to engage. FCO Plascencia’s colors are more firm than the loose grit we’re used to, and that’s okay because it just seemed to fit the mood back for those earlier issues. We get an early glimpse of a young Riddler and something that later adds a penny to the thoughts in Batman’s cave collection. Did that give it away?? I’d recommend this as a great jumping on point if you’re one of the few, rare pink elephants that have not yet jumped the fence, because I feel like there’s going to be deep surprises coming to us shortly.
Deadpool is a great, playful book that I can read while relaxing. I don’t have to focus on discovering any complicated story details because there are none that will come back to haunt me later. The best part about it is that the book actually is pretty funny as long as you know the content being broadcasted on the undertones. There were so many golden moments in this issue and I wish I could post them but I’m limiting myself to only one photo per book so this is what you get! The next issue is the last for this arc, so if you’re waiting to jump on I’d recommend wait until Deadpool #13. I’m not exactly sure where Tony Moore is but if he returned back as the artist, it would complete this book once again.
With the stinging reminder and guilt of killing her brother James, Barbara Gordon is at a hard crossroad of her life where she doesn’t feel worthy or deserving to wear the Batgirl cowl. Meanwhile Commissioner Gordon’s anger is at it’s peak as he learned Batgirl was responsible for the death of his son, of course her secret identity being his very daughter. Last issue we also became introduced to Shauna Belzer, whom will be the New 52’s Ventriloquist, and her puppet lover ‘Ferdie’ who replaces fan favorite Scarface. Although the previous Ventriloquist was clearly psychologically broken, this new one, Shauna, seems to have somehow acquired a psychic ability she can assert on inanimate objects. They don’t go deep into any limitations and we definitely look forward to learning more about Ventriloquist Shauna and her dummy Ferdie.
Katana is desperate to repair the Soultaker sword and revive her husband Maseo’s spirit within it. Like a fish leaping into a shark tank, she travels to Japan to find one of the very few sword makers capable of returning Soultaker back to it’s peak condition. Standing in her way is Maseo’s own brother, Sickle, whom was responsible for the death of Katana’s husband. Also distracting from the mission is the introduction of female assassin Swagger, one of the leading sword clansmen of Japan. Meanwhile, reporter Jack Ryder arrives in Japan. But didn’t he die in The Phantom Stranger series? Hmm…
Avenging Spider-Man #22:
Christopher Yost delivers the final Avenging Spider-Man issue. I’m very sad because I’m not sure what direction the new series replacing this one, Superior Spider-Man Team-Up, will be going but I’ve loved the Superior Spider-Man brand and I intend to follow it with my fist full of dollars. We see Spidey clash with long time reluctant heroic grunt Punisher in a match to stop a new Mysterio. While Dr. Octopus, whom now resides in Spider-Man’s body, sees this as an incredible disgrace, Punisher targets imposter Mysterio as threatening as the original and proceeds to execute him. We do get a surprise cameo by another big Spider-Man villain and the ending reminds us of all the Sinister Six villains that Superior Spider-Man has been collecting to use at his disposal for the next series.
The Walking Dead #111:
While Michonne starts to get comfortable around King Ezekiel, Rick and Andrea also find comfort in the facility with Carl sneaking off to hang out with Zeek’s tiger. As they get ready to attack Negan’s secret base of operations, Negan and the Saviors arrive back at Rick’s camp and make themselves at home on the notion that Rick and his company were out on a supply run. Spencer uses Rick’s absence as an opportunity to pitch to Negan that they should kill Rick and take control of the compound. Negan’s darker side does come out but it’s nothing as brutal as bashing the chicken fried rice out of Glenn’s skull back in The Walking Dead #100.
Thor: God of Thunder #9:
Finally! The matchup we’ve been waiting for! The Thors of past, present, and future take Gorr head-on for an all-or-nothing match! They pummel. They bludgeon. Gods cry. Gods die. The ending will surprise you, and it wasn’t the outcome we expected! Jason Aaron easily delivers another epic piece of this ongoing tale you do not want to miss. If you use your Marvel AR app, you can catch a piece where artist Esad Ribic talks about his art process and the focal points he chose for the attack scene where the three Thors jumped off their ship. If you don’t have the Marvel AR app, I went ahead and found the video and you can view it right here! See how resourceful I am for you guys?
Avengers Assemble #16:
I’ve been pretty happy with Kelly Sue DeConnick’s work on Captain Marvel. And likewise, because she’s working on Avengers Assemble, it was in her favor to do a story arc leaning more towards Captain Marvel. Which is fine. I don’t need 73 Avengers comics every month. For those unaware, Ms. Marvel Carol Danvers graduated to becoming Captain Marvel last year. She currently has a brain condition that is forcing her to limit power usage, or it threatens to disable her mind completely. Of course, Carol being Carol, she can’t resist a challenge and refuses to sit around. The more she fights, the more risk she’s taking. There’s a secret enemy behind closed curtains pulling strings and forcing Carol and the Avengers to play along, and that’s what this book is slowly unraveling. Captain Marvel #13 next week continues the “Enemy Within” arc and I’ll analyze it a bit better.
Alpha: Big Time #5:
Immediately after Dr. Octopus obtained Spider-Man’s body, he began correcting problems that Peter Parker started. Spidey reinstated Andy Maguire with just 10% of his peak power as Alpha, which was just enough to cause his cocky confidence to return and mess something up. In this last issue he’s confronting the cancerous supervillain he created and finally asks Superior Spider-Man for help on solving the issue. When his family and Soupcan also come in danger, Andy realizes that with great power also comes great responsibility. Although the mini-series is over, Dan Slott introduced a great character in the Marvel Universe that can easily be turned around and matured for many stories to come in the future. Only sale will tell how likeable the character has been, and if it’s possible for him to survive without major character support.
Wolverine and the X-Men #31
While Wolverine and the faculty at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning are not surprised at the betrayal of Kid Omega Quentin Quire, they’re not aware that he purposely infiltrated the Hellfire Academy to save Idie and Broo, while trying to learn who shot Broo and caused the mental aggression we’ve seen from the previous story arc. While Wolverine is firm on getting to the bottom of this, he’s also adamant that he does not feel like continuing on the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. Kid Omega can easily take down many people of the Marvel Universe as we’ve seen before, so it was great having him boldly go into the Hellfire Academy. The faculty staff of the school made me giddy when I saw Sauron teaching a science class! When’s the last time we’ve seen that guy! This is Jason Aaron’s second book of the week and it brings such a different tone than Thor: God of Thunder or Thanos Rising. Nick Bradshaw’s art is also firmly incredible and always a guilty pleasure on the eyes.
Ohhh boy, last but not least right? I gave Venom #35 a ton of lashes and curses for the last issue. Lack of story, build up, or suspense. Mundane artwork and color. I mean no offense to Cullen Bunn or Declan Shalvey but when you’re stepping in the big boy shoes of where Rick Remender and Tony Moore were a few months ago, you better bring your motherf#$king A-Game to this goddamn book! Well, it seems the Gods at Marvel may have heard my plea. And with a heavy heart, and a big smile, I’m glad to report back to you that Venom is back!
We got a huge facelift on the artwork for the book thanks to Pepe Larraz, which I felt like alone was worth the improvement and mention for review here. Imagine dating a drugged up cokey Fiona Apple and then waking up from that nightmare and seeing a Kim Kardashian in your bed instead. That’s how amazing it was. Even during a scene that wasn’t meant to be incredibly climatic, we see Pepe’s art bring dramatic life to Andi (Flash’s gothic teenage neighbor and student) on a tall 1/3rd page splash. I think I have a thing for goth girls now 😉 Just kidding, I always have.
Needless to say, the remaining art with Venom himself was explosive. WE GOT FACIAL EXPRESSIONS ON CHARACTERS AGAIN! THEY HAVE FACES!! Okay, it really was that important. One thing the story failed to mention was that people actually died at the school in the last issue. That’s kind of import you know, kids dying at the school you work at? I didn’t really care though because the art itself made up for that gaping hole. We get introduced to Lord Ogre who’s been running the Philly crime scene that Venom has been destroying. The villain escaped before we saw what he’s capable of, but hopefully he has some sort of metahuman powers to give him his stand against Venom because being a thug gangster may not be enough to push up against a symbiote!
Next week Marvel pushes back with their biggest book going to be Age of Ultron #10, featuring Angela from Image Comics‘ Spawn being introduced to the Marvel Universe.
I’m not sure if I should give you guys the weekly comic preview late Tuesday or early Wednesday. What do you guys think? Let us know 😀