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Comics Picks For 16.04.2014

I was intending this week to be another big week, but since I was involved with the preps for a friend’s wedding (and the wedding itself of course), I found myself with less time than I wanted. In particular I was meaning to read some back-issues for the already-released new titles that Marvel has put out under the All-New Marvel NOW! banner that I’ve either skipped or stopped reading, but that didn’t happen unfortunately.

Still, I managed to move through quite a few comics, and even reconnected with some favourite titles like Warlord of Mars from Dynamite Entertainment and Transformers: Windblade from IDW Publishing. It has been quite a fun week in that regard, and as you can see from the reviews, lots of good times were had. Still, the pile of unread comics grows ever bigger and there’s no end in sight for that.

Anyway, here’s another edition of “Comics Picks For…”. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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Ultimate FF #1 (Comics Review)

Recently the Ultimate Universe was invaded by the 616-universe Galactus in a cataclysmic event that was first told in the pages of the mini-series Hunger and then in a big crossover event called Cataclysm that ran through several Ultimate Universe books. The end result is that the mainline alternate universe of Marvel’s comics underwent some serious changes and in the wake of that event we have had a relaunch of several books as the Ultimate Universe line-up gets simplified and renumbered in keeping with Marvel’s current All-New Marvel Now! phase.

Ultimate FF is among these new books and it presents a new vision for the Ultimate Universe version of the Future Foundation. I haven’t read any Fantastic Four/Future Foundations books in the Ultimate Universe, so I have zero idea what the teams have been like previously, but in this new book things seem very haphazard. It is nothing more than a “new” version of the Ultimates, which is the UU’s Avengers team. And the art is very disappointing as well. It lacks polish and appears half-finished. Ultimate FF is definitely not off to a good start with this issue.

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Batman: Eternal #2 (Comics Review)

Last week DC began its first weekly title of the New 52, Batman: Eternal. This is a story that affects the entire Bat-family and has some deep repercussions for all the heroes involved here. The first issue, penned by the Snyder-Tynion duo, was a fairly good look at a brand-new crossover in Gotham that sees the GCPD go up against Professor Pyg and come out with one of its best and brightest brought down in a shocking way. The two writers started the series on a bang and the art was also quite good, which helped a great deal. Now its time to look at what comes after.

In Batman: Eternal #2 we see a very focused story as Batman seeks to learn the mystery behind what happened in the last issue, and the other Bat-family members begin to get drawn in. What happened has some major consequences for them all, including Catwoman, because one of Gotham’s greatest criminal masterminds is returning to the city. Snyder-Tynion are still the ones to pen this issue as well, with the other contributing writers to the series serving as consultants. The same team from the previous issue is back basically, and they are all just as good as they were in the last issue, if not better. It is all about the big reveal at the end.

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Arrow Season 2 Episode 19 (TV Show Review)

Arrow‘s season 2, which has been quite spectacular all through its run and also significantly better than the debut season, is now in its final stages. We started off with a familiar Starling City and a familiar core cast of characters, but along the way many things have changed. Many new characters have joined the cast and the map of Starling has been redrawn by several new villains, all looking to make their mark on the city. But, there has always been a master-plan in place and in the last few episodes we have seen how all of that has played out as we get one revelation after another, revelations that have shocked the lives of the core characters.

In the last couple of episodes we saw Deathstroke and his allies take the fight to Team Arrow and humiliate them again and again. We’ve seen the good guys brought low and have watched as the bad guys became ascendant. Oliver Queen clearly thinks that it is time for the good guys to go on the offensive and that’s what much of this episode is about. Team Arrow has had it with Deathstroke dictating their moves and they strike back this time. And all the usual character drama and action follows, except of course that every performance is at the top of the actors’ games.

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Hulk #1 (Comics Review)

The Hulk has been a mainstay of various comics from Marvel over the years. In fact, he has also starred in several three movies, two of which he headlined, and has also made an appearance and been a star of several animated series. Often just a lone agent, he’s also been a part of SHIELD in recent times and is a card-carrying Avenger. I’ve read a very small handful of comics featuring the Hulk over the years, and I’ve always been impressed with them. Such as last year’s Arms of the Octopus crossover or Marvel Knights: Hulk. And now we have a new series featuring the Big Green Guy, written by one of Marvel’s mainstay writers, Mark Waid.

Hulk #1 apparently picks up from the final issue of Waid’s The Indestructible Hulk, which was one of the series that debuted for Marvel Now back in 2012 and has had a good decent run up until now. As we start the issue, Bruce Banner has been shot in the back of his head and it is all touch and go so SHIELD brings in the best brain surgeon in the world to operate. But nothing is as it seems and soon the caged beast is out and causing his own special brand of mayhem. Combined with a really interesting storyline and characters, plus some very good art, Hulk just went on my monthly pull-list.

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Batman #30 (Comics Review)

With their first arc of Zero Year, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo delivered something wonderful. With their second arc, it felt as if they had kind of lost their way a little bit since it felt less focused and less… immediate. While their entire run on Batman thus far has been nothing short of spectacular, with Zero Year they went big and delivered some amazing stories and dealt with some classic Batman villains. I loved the first arc, second arc not so much. But I remain a fan because Scott is usually a damn good writer and because Greg Capullo and Co. are all similarly amazing, usually.

With Batman #30 the creative team begins its third and final arc of Zero Year: Savage City. The Riddler is now in control of Gotham and things have changed big time. No more heroes. Gotham is an island, cut off from the rest of country and struggling to survive. This is the Gotham that Batman aka Bruce Wayne wakes up to after the disastrous events of the previous arc, and things are gonna get a whole lot worse before there is even a slimmer of hope that they will get better. And as always, the art is good, but it felt a bit too colourful and overdone in some places.

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Ms. Marvel #3 (Comics Review)

 If you’ve been wanting to read the adventures of a new superhero in a world filled with said hero’s idols and what not, then Ms. Marvel absolutely has to be the book you should be reading. If you want to read a book about a teenage superhero struggling with the first steps in a world of heroics and the resultant headaches, Ms. Marvel is the book for you. If you want to read a book about a female teen superhero, Ms. Marvel has to be your first stop. And if you want to read a book about a female teen superhero of colour AND a faith not Christian or atheist or whatever, then Ms. Marvel has to be at the top of you reading pile.

In their first two issues, the creative team of G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring have done something incredible. They’ve managed to write a female teen superhero, who is Muslim and the daughter of first-generation Pakistani immigrants, without any grandiosity or pomposity. This is a book that connects with the average reader and gives them something unique and yet familiar. The new issue, out yesterday, is the best issue yet and it solidifies what kind of a character Kamala Khan is going to be and how she is going to tackle her superhero identity of Ms. Marvel.

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Justice League #29 (Comics Review)

Not only was Geoff Johns’ Forever Evil inexplicably delayed till next month, but also Justice League, which skipped the entire month of March and is now the only original series from the launch of New 52 that is behind on its monthly schedule, best as I can tell. The entire event has been bombarded with delays of late, and these delays don’t help at all. This event was supposed to be wrapped up last month, but now is going to finish 2 months late. At least the previous issue of this series, Justice League #28, was a fairly good issue that explored the origins of the Metal Men and featured some good story with some good art.

Released today, Justice League #29 continues the tale of the Metal Men as Cyborg leads them into battle against Grid himself, the sentient super-virus that had infested his body since his creation and manifested itself at the end of the Trinity War event to side with the Crime Syndicate. The first half of the issue is all about the Metal Men and the second half is all about Cyborg taking the fight to Grid. Nothing spectacular this time around, but I liked the story well enough and as always Doug Mahnke. did a great job on the artwork.

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Comics Picks For 09.04.2014

Another great week this time. Lots of fun new tiles and old ones returning for new installments. The highlight of the week had to be the upcoming graphic novel by Paul Dini and Joe Quinones Jr. for which I managed to get a review copy. Long live NetGalley! And the graphic novel definitely delivered on its promise too, although there were a few things that I didn’t like so much.

With all the new series coming out, its definitely a good time to be in comics, and most of all if you have been a fan of certain series like Daredevil and Unity. I’m still behind on certain series though and there are a lot of comics that I am behind on, as I was painfully made aware this past week. And the pile is mounting every week. Just too many things to stay current with.

Anyway, here’s another edition of this new feature. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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Secret Avengers #2 (Comics Review)

Marvel began its relaunch of Secret Avengers on quite a high last month. While I didn’t read the previous series due to a lack of interest, I picked up the new #1 as part of my read-through of all the new series being launched as part of All-New Marvel NOW! Bringing together Hawkeye, Black Widow, Spider-Woman, Maria Hill, Modok, Nick Fury and Phil Coulson, this new series seems to be one of the most exciting of all those that Marvel has launched in the last three and a half months. The creative team and the cast are both solid, and that’s what I expected from the sequel issue.

Secret Avengers #2 picks right up from where the first issue left off and it includes some truly awesome moments that make you jump up and down with glee. You don’t really expect some kind of big flashy heroics from these guys, at least I don’t. I think of all of them as more subtle than that, much more… mature even. Writer Ales Kot wrapped up this short opening arc very well, giving a great taste of all the characters involved and the art team delivered on the goods as well.

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Unity #5-6 (Comics Review)

Back in late February Valiant Comics wrapped up the first arc on its new series Unity. Bringing together some of its biggest characters, Valiant put out a very unconventional superhero team book that saw casualties from the get go and sought to redefine the characters involved, making them all part of a larger shared universe. Eternal Warrior, Ninjak, X-O Manowar, Livewire and Toyo Harada are characters who fluctuated a bit in how interesting and developed they were but liked them all I did, and I’ve stuck with the series since its first issue.

The new arc began last month and saw several important changes in how the “team” was structured. The characters involved, having gone through a crucible of sorts, are now in their restoration phase, slowly getting used to the change in status quo that has come about due to the first arc. But, things aren’t calm because there is another supervillain in the background, who is up to no small amount of mischief, and he is the one that the team has to take out this time. With a mostly good story and some decent art, the future of Unity looks very promising.

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Daredevil #1.50 (Comics Review)

It has been barely a year since I read my first Daredevil comic, the first arc of Mark Waid’s series on the title that recently ended and was relaunched for All-New Marvel NOW!. I read it for an online course on gender in comics that I did last year and it proved to be quite a bit of fun. I’m familiar with the character through some of his animated appearances, and the Ben Affleck-starrer movie of course, but I still don’t know a whole lot about him. He’s a very interesting character though, one of the very first disabled superhero characters I believe (I could be wrong on this), and that’s a big part of his charm as well.

Daredevil #1.50 is an anniversary issue commemorating 50 years of the Man Without Fear. It seems like a lot of characters are celebrating anniversaries recently, and just as with all the others, Marvel has done something special. Although this issue is extremely oddly numbered (in keeping up with Marvel’s trend of other such weird numberings of late), the stories inside are truly something else. The first one is a Matt Murdock of the future, another features Mike Murdock, and then we have a tease for the upcoming Elektra. The art in all of them is pretty damn good, and so are the stories.

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