In the last four months Ales Kot and Michael Walsh have dazzled me with their take on this secret group of Avengers working for SHIELD. Hawkeye, Black Widow, Spider-Woman, Nick Fury Jr., Phil Coulson and Maria Hill have been stunning almost every step of the way and this has certainly been one of the most impressive of the new titles launched by Marvel this year for its All-New Marvel NOW! initiative, marking the second major launch of its titles since late 2012. The four issues thus far have been impressive sure, but I think we are entering an all-new phase that is even better..
This past week’s Secret Avengers #5 deepens the character mysteries and really tones down all the action so that the plot moves along in a very different manner. It is given however that when Maria Hill and Nick Fury Jr, are involved, especially a straight-and-narrow guy like Coulson, there is going to be a lot of friction between them over all the secrets being kept, and the biggest secret on this team is that Modok is working for SHIELD! Ales Kot, Michael Walsh, Matthew Wilson and Tradd Moore are at their best in this issue and they deliver on the goods in a handsome manner.
Last year veteran Batman writer Grant Morrison finally killed of Damian Wayne, the character that he created along with artist-writer Andy Kubert almost a decade ago. The fallout from Damian’s death was a bit intense across the Bat-family titles (for most of them anyway), but then the titles moved on, and the gaping heart remained since Damian Wayne, the son of Bruce Wayne aka Batman and Ra’s al-Ghul’s daughter Talia, was the current Robin and had apparently gained a lot of popularity among fans despite his many… flaws. I certainly didn’t enjoy what little I read of the character in various comics, but he was… interesting.
With Robin Rises: Omega #1, a one-shot comic, it appears that DC is looking to bring back the fan-favourite Robin from the dead, and I’m already turned off by it. I got this double-sized issue to see what kind of a story I was going to get here and because there was a good amount of buzz for it, and all I’m left with after reading through it is plain disappointment. Tomasi’s writing has been decent at best for me, but with this issue he really bored me from the get go. And while Andy Kubert’s art has been decent at best as well, I couldn’t get into it so much, although the art is definitely better than the story here.
The newly (re)launched Ms. Marvel’s first arc (sort of) wrapped up last month on a really nice melancholic note. Writer G. Willow Wilson really went to town to create a realistic modern teenaged character with some real personal issues and she made Kamala Khan’s story resonate. That has been something that has served this series in good stead, for most of the comics right now from the Big 2 really don’t focus so much on characters like Kamala. In a lot of different ways. And the uniqueness that results has made this series one of the best on the shelves each month.
The new Ms. Marvel #6 takes some time off from Kamala’s usual heroics and interactions with her family to focus on things like her religious instructor and mentor as the two interact really well together in quite surprising ways. And also, we get to see a surprise guest star in the second half of the issue (spoilers will be below!) and that really made my day, to see Kamala meet and hang out with this superstar superhero. G. Willow Wilson’s writing in this issue was spot on and consistent, though with Jacob Wyatt stepping in for a pencil guest-spot, the art isn’t to the usual high standards.
Time travel. Dimensional War. Death. Betrayal. Aliens. Superheropocalypse. DC’s Future’s End weekly comic has done it all in its two and a half months so far. What started off as a really dark title with superheroes dying left and right has matured into something a little light-hearted, something that has become a superhero mystery and an action-packed tale of “two minutes to midnight” rather than superhero horror. It started off really good, and thought it has wobbled a bit in the middle, it is still one of the best books that DC is putting out right now.
This week’s Future’s End #11 sees the continuation of several plots and the introduction of yet new players as the world moves towards an inevitability. No Grifter and Fifty Sue this time, but we get to see a fair bit of the Justice League of the future, as well as get some bonding time between Amethyst and Frankenstein, along with a really startling development from Mr. Terrific. In spite of all the changes that have happened in this series of late, it looks like there are many more yet to come and I loved that this issue acted as a launch-point for yet more stories, though I’m slightly concerned by how convoluted it is all getting.
Moving into the final phase of Original Sin, which just one more month to go before it all wraps-up, things are finally beginning to heat up for all the characters involved here. After all the startling revelations of the last two issues, everyone is in an uncertain place and I’m really loving how Jason Aaron has developed the story and how Mike Deodato and his art team have handled the artwork. The last few issues have been really good, and the title is certainly becoming one of my favourite reads of the year, and as an event comic it is certainly superb.
After the flashback-heavy content of the previous issue, Original Sin #6 moves full-steam ahead with the current story as heroes recruited by Nick Fury confront him aboard his secret satellite space station, even as the Avengers and the other heroes race against the clock to find out what the hell is going on with the “dead” Nick Fury’s body that they have and with the Watcher Uatu’s murder. Jason Aaron is absolutely superb in this issue and Mike Deodato and team don’t hold back either, making this the best issue of this series to date.
Well, it has been a couple weeks again since I did this feature. The week before, well, it was marriage week for me and I barely read 4 books, so it didn’t really make sense to do a post on just those four, so I skipped it. And it was a really slow week all in all, especially for blogging, so I just decided to let things rest for an entire week. But I’m back again this time!
The surprise hits of this week were Death Vigil #1 from Top Cow andGrayson #1 from DC Comics. The surprise flop of the week would be Spider-Man 2099 #1 from Marvel Comics. Expectedly great comics such as Fantastic Four #7 from Marvel Comics, Batgirl #3# from DC all delivered on their promises as well. Not a lot of comics this past week, certainly not as much as the week prior or my usual number of ~25/week, but definitely a good number at 21 issues. Might take a dive in the next week though!
Just this past week, it was announced that Batgirl would be shifting creative teams in October and that the title would undergo a major creative revamp. Goes without saying that I’m going to be really saddened to see Gail Simone, Fernando Pasarin, Blond, Jonathan Glapion and the others leave the title because I’ve really enjoyed what they’ve done in the last year, especially Gail who has shepherded much of the title since the New 52 relaunch. Thankfully, it looks like she is intending to go out with a bang if the cliffhanger ending from last month’s issue is anything to go by.
Given that Batman: Eternal is currently ongoing and that some of the events of that weekly series are beginning to trickle down elsewhere, it kind of makes sense that Batgirl too would get sweeped up in the wake of it. Batgirl #33 is quite possibly one of Gail Simone’s best issues on the title, mostly for the fact that it includes three of my favourite DC leading ladies and the ending of the issue looks set to take things to the next level. The art is slightly fuzzy at times, but the action is crisp and awesome, so I won’t complain.
Since revamping the Captain Marvel series with Carol Danvers as once again in the titular role, writer Kelly Sue DeConnick has been crafting quite an interesting story that somewhat ties into last year’s Infinity event, but also stands on its own, apart from what happened in that event. Her Carol Danvers is better than ever and it does feel like a serious revamp since the story this time around is so much better than what she did back in 2012 when she first got a chance on the title. And it helps that the artwork has been pretty stunning as well, whether we talk pencils or colours or what have you.
Captain Marvel #5 is where some of the mysteries surrounding the planet of Torfa begin to come together for a reveal. The reasoning behind J’son and the Spartax’s bid to remove the refugees on the planet and take control is finally unveiled and it is something major indeed, something worth even killing over. And more than that, we get some great political interplay between the ruling council on Torfa, with Carol herself becoming quite the figurehead. Kelly Sue knocks this one out of the part as far as the writing is concerned and the art isn’t far behind either.
The wrap-up of James Robinson and Leonard Kirk’s first arc on the newly relaunched Fantastic Four back in the end of May was quite heart-breaking indeed. The two creators, along with artists Jay Leisten and Jesus Aburtov had done an absolutely magnificent job up until that point and the fifth issue was really something else, especially since it starred a whole bunch of other creators as the US government took the team to task for their past mistakes and really made them pay. And given that the Original Sin event is ongoing too, well, the future is distinctly dark for the team.
There’s a lot that has happened in the previous five issues, and in issues 6 and 7 things really take a turn for the worse because the events of Original Sin finally hit the team, in addition to everything else that has been going on with them. And their troubles are far from over because the US government is still not done with them, or their kids and allies like the Dragon Man. And in the midst of it all, what The Orb did in Original Sin #3 is coming back to bite Johnny as Ben learns a terrible secret and acts on it. Robinson’s writing in this series has been heart-breaking from the get go, but these two issues really step up the tension even as the art team continues to be utterly fantastic.
Marvel’s Original Sin event is fast approaching its big showdown, with only about 5 more weeks to go before it all ends. Up until now it has been quite the spectacular event under Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato, and I have been very impressed by how it has all come together. To go with the event comics, Marvel has also started releasing some tie-ins that deal with the big moment from Original Sin #3, when the Orb unveiled one of Uatu’s eyes and the superheroes present were exposed to some pretty big secrets from their past. Last time it was a revelation between Hulk and Iron Man. Now…
Thor and Loki: The Tenth Realm is the second tie-in of this event and where the first was about an “accident”, the new issue is about a revelation about the past that was hidden from these two brothers, a revelation that shocks Thor to his core and also ends up getting All-Mother Freya extremely emotional, a state of being that I’ve never seen on her face in all the comics I’ve read with her to date. Jason Aaron and Al Ewing’s story is top-notch here with some really great moments and the art by Lee Garbet, Simone Bianchi and the others is impressive as well.
With DC’s launch of its entire line-up in 2011, and my subsequent return to comics in the following year, Suicide Squad was one of the books that I was quite interested in because of its team make-up and the premise. But my expectations didn’t match the reality, by a good margin, and I gave up on the book after just the first arc. And then the Suicide Squad showed up on screens with Arrow‘s Season 2 and I got really, really excited. And at the same time, DC announced that Suicide Squad was being relaunched with a new creative team and with a shake-up of the Suicide Squad team itself, and I thought, why not?
New Suicide Squad #1 has proven to be better than I expected, by far. Joker’s Daughter vs Harley Quinn, Deathstroke vs Deadshot, and Black Manta? Well, that’s a recipe for goodness. And I loved that writer Sean Ryan played up on the differences in the team make-up, and he really made each character feel valuable in their own way, with a decent “first” mission that also has a spectacular cliffhanger that is sure to appease some long-term readers of DC comics, especially alternate international superhero teams. Plus the art was fairly decent, so that was a notch of positive difference as well.
More than any other superhero, Dick Grayson aka Nightwing suffered the most during DC’s recent big-event, Forever Evil. He was captured by Superwoman and then his civilian identity was unmasked during a global vid-cast, after he was beaten black-and-blue by the Crime Syndicate. The stage was set for his death during this event, for with his unmasking there followed the very real danger that his friends would be found out as well. He did die during the event, for all his friends, and this was the same time as the announcement that he would return in a new identity and new series very soon.
Grayson #1 is the start of a new series that, in my limited experience, puts Dick Grayson in one of the most unique phases of his life, something that can match his temporary tenure as Batman during Bruce’s supposed death. Batman convinced him at the end of Forever Evil that he should recast himself as a special ops agent for SPYRAL and writers Tim Seeley and Tom King have had the distinction of shepherding him through this new phase, and they’ve really done a top job with this first issue. Plus, the art by Mikel Janin, Jeromy Cox and Carlos M. Mangual deserves top marks as well.