A stable week for a change and this meant that I was able to read some more comics this time. Didn’t get through quite as many as I wanted to, and I certainly didn’t get around to reviewing as many as I wanted to, but that’s fine really. Gotta take a bit of an occasional lighter load I think. Most of the Marvel books I read this week weren’t all that impressive (as the top picks at the end will show), but DC was better. And Vertigo’s newest series looks to be damn good too, can’t wait to check out the second issue of that next month.
And I did manage to begin my Flash New 52 read-through finally with volume 1 last night, so that’s something there. Planning to read a lot of graphic novels this year, mostly in terms of catching up with series I’ve missed out on, so we shall see how it all pans out.
Another new week of comics, and that means another new week with a new book launching from Marvel, as part of its brand-new All-New Marvel NOW! initiative, under which the publisher is either relaunching some series, or launching new ones with characters old and new alike. One of this week’s big highlight is X-Force, which already existed under the Marvel Now banner, but not quite in this form, I’m given to believe. I’ve never read any X-Force or related comic, and neither have I read anything with any of the characters featured here, except for Psylocke, who has had some good moments in Brian Wood’s X-Men of late.
Being my first X-Force comic, and with these characters in particular, the transition is a bit rough. I barely know any of them, and Si Spurrier’s writing isn’t very comfortable in that regard either. But, I think the series has a really interesting premise all the same, with the X-Force team being mutantkind’s self-appointed black ops team, and that’s the charm, certainly. Rock-He Kim’s art on the other hand leaves a lot to be desired and is definitely one of the weaker points of this issue. It has neither the substance nor the charm that I expected.
The previous two issues of Marvel Knights: X-Men have been surprisingly good. As someone who was a bit jaded with the X-books following last year’s Battle of the Atom crossover, this new (mini) series proved to be a breath of fresh air in almost all respects and the creative team of Brahm Revel and Cristiane Peter did some really good work on both these issues. They introduced the characters well and gave them a compelling mystery to sink their teeth into, something that could resonate with the reader alongside some of the more compelling X-Men stories.
But sadly, the third issue, released this week, proves to be a bit of a bummer. After the awesomeness of the previous two issues, we got a very disappointing issue this week. And its not so much as the art as the writing that is problematic here. The X-Men don’t exactly act in character and the revealed powers of Darla grow steadily more messy, in both story and art. I’m not sure really. I kind of enjoyed the story here, but I was also put off by it in several places. Perhaps that’s why I found it so disappointing.
For whatever reason, Marvel decided to put out a 5-issue mini-series set something during The Amazing Spider-Man but numbered after the final issue of the now-discontinued titled with Dan Slott’s #700. The first issue of the mini-series was released earlier this month and it was a nice simple issue that dealt with a relatively small scale problem in some ways, but was still pretty important for Spider-Mana aka Peter Parker. It was a touching story that promised a lot of cool, neat things and focused on the character being a hero.
The second issue, which followed the week after the first issue, is more of the same, but with the tension ramped up significantly. The message in this review is simple: a hero is a hero whether he or she is saving someone from a burning building or going up against a crazy supervillain. David Morrell’s script is very simple in its execution but the message is quite important, and the artwork by Klaus Janson and Steve Buccellato helps significantly in delivering that particular message.
Marvel recently relaunched its Marvel Knights brand of comics, with Matt Kindt’s Spider-Man and Brahm Revel’s X-Men. The latter is the only of the two that I have taken any interest in, and the first issue launched last month proved to be quite a decent opening issue that tells a low-key, low-stakes story where the focus is on the characters first and the action second. Like I remarked in my review for it, the current crop of X-Men books all seem to be focused on telling the grand stories that affect absolutely everything and Marvel Knights: X-Men fills a niche in the opposite side of the spectrum.
The first issue set the stage for all the characters and it gave us an intro to the primary characters: Wolverine, Kitty and Rogue, as they set out for a small town somewhere in West Virginia where Rachel has seen visions of a mutant kid being murdered in cold blood. The story wasn’t all that dark per se but it did have a pretty serious message to it, and the message was that the X-Men protect their own, even when that person is not actually a part of the team. Revel worked in some really interesting commentary from all the characters and that was part of the reason I liked it so much. The second issue proves to be more of the same.
If you are following my comics reviews since last year, then you know that I’ve read very few Spider-Man comics and that they’ve been all over the place. Bendis’ second run on Ultimate Comics Spider-Man with Peter Parker, his 5-issue mini-series involving Peter and Mike Morales, Dan Slott’s The Amazing Spider-Man #648-651 and then his Superior Spider-Man Volume 1. Extremely limited reading by all accounts. As such, as far as the comics are concerned, I don’t really have that much of an attachment to Peter Parker as the Spider-Man.
And yet, reading this new issue for the discontinued The Amazing Spider-Man series made me feel really nostalgic. Perhaps its because I watched The Amazing Spider-Man with Andrew Garfield in the lead role just last week or that I saw the trailer for the sequel last night. Or maybe its because reading Slott’s Superior Spider-Man Volume 1 made me feel really emotional for Peter. Could be any of those I suppose, but this story was quite touching despite its very simplistic nature. And that, most of all, is the strength of it.
Marvel Knights is apparently an imprint within Marvel where the stories are all told as mini-series. They are all a part of the main Marvel universe, but are still… separate. I read the first issue of Marvel Knights: Spider-Man a while but didn’t like it. It was interesting that instead of SpOck (that is, Superior Spider-Man aka Otto Octavius), it had Peter Parker, who’s been dead for a while. That was quite a different approach, bringing back one of Marvel’s most enduring characters after a long time.
Revel’s Marvel Knights: X-Men is set before the events of X-Men: Battle of the Atom, and consequently the team is still largely together, although we focus on a few key characters only. As it turns out, the fact that this story is set apart from the all the regular X-Men titles works in its favours and is a strength, rather than a weakness. If more X-Men series could be like this, I would have an easier time of getting into these books!