Scott Reviews The New 52 (And Other Stuff Too!) – 01.04.12
Yay! First week of the month, when all my favourites come out at once. But first, some pickups from Marvel…
I’m still a tad unsure on the mechanism of change for General Ross, as he just kind of changes back and forth off-screen here, but that’s a minor issue for me in understanding and enjoying the character. He definitely doesn’t seem to need anger as a trigger, and he’s in full control of himself the whole time as Red Hulk. His daughter, on the other hand, is going a bit nutso as Red She-Hulk, referring to Betty Ross as a totally different person while picking a fight with her dad. After some family brawling where Red Hulk shows remarkable restraint for, well, a Hulk, the team goes off to find his newest villain: Zero-One. She’s really into computer hacking and wears very little clothing, kind of like Olivia Munn. Things are looking bad for Hulk in the cliffhanger, but with Red She-Hulk hiding on his ship a family reunion seems in the offing next month. Holidays are always the worst for dysfunctional families, especially irradiated ones.
Uncanny X-Force #19.1
I have to admit, I don’t really get what I’m supposed to take out of this one. These “.1″ issues are intended as jumping-on points for new readers, and I’ve heard lots of good stuff about X-Force, but this is more of a spinoff into the new Age of Apocalypse series so I’m kind of lost. Admittedly I was a big fan of the original AOA event, marking the one and only time I collected X-Men titles in the 90s, but this felt like jumping into the third reel of a movie. Even the generally helpful recap at the beginning didn’t help distinguish who was who outside of Magneto in the wheelchair, probably because I’m so clueless when it comes to X-Men continuity that’s not related to the movies. So it’s not really fair for me to render any kind of judgment here.
Onto the New 52:
Action Comics #5
And now we take a bit of a departure for the series, to say the least, as the invasion of Earth gets dropped for a couple of issues and we get the New 52 origin of Superman. With Andy Kubert doing the artwork. Hells yeah. This does kind of tie into the ongoing storyline, as the rocketship is apparently Brainiac, and fears about Krypto being dead are assuaged nicely here. The thing we saw in #2 wasn’t a dog, but rather a clever way for Ma and Pa Kent to evade government forces after finding the rocket. Krypto is, instead, safely in the Phantom Zone, getting tormented by all of Jor-El’s deadliest enemies for all eternity. Whew. Yeah, we’ve seen this a million times before, but subtle changes like making it from the perspective of the rocketship freshen it up again, and you can’t fault the art here. Thankfully Action is back in fine form after the misstep of #4.
Animal Man #5
This continues to be an awesomely terrifying book. The Rot is invading Buddy’s backyard, and it gives Buddy a disturbing look at what might happen to Maxine if things go badly. And I mean DISTURBING. I don’t know what drugs Travel Foreman is on when he pencils these comics, but they’re obviously strong ones. And then, when you think that Maxine might have saved the day, well, it’s quite the opposite, but it’s hard to fault her given her age. Every animal in the world is in the process of getting absorbed into the rot, and there’s only one thing left to do: Call the Swamp Thing! The only thing I’d say here is that the transition from Foreman into the fill-in artist for a few pages is pretty jarring, as it suddenly looks like a standard superhero comic again, but the rest is awesome and creepy as ever. And speaking of Swamp Thing…
Swamp Thing #5
The Rot infests Alec Holland’s world as well, as he goes on a road trip to find Abby’s somewhat evil brother William before he can bond with the Rot and make even more bad stuff happen. To that end, he finds himself reluctantly calling on the powers of plants again and striking up another romance with Abby (in a really touching bonding moment over a can of peaches, actually). The more confident and dynamic Holland is fun to read about, and Yannick Paquette’s artwork is top-notch here. I’m a big fan of clean, detailed art like this, and it really jumps off the page. Obviously this setting up a big crossover with Animal Man, and I’d recommend jumping on board both titles ASAP. This one in particular is easy to jump into because Holland isn’t even Swamp Thing yet so you’ve got lots of time before everything hits the fan for him. Plus this issue works well as a standalone, so go out and buy it! Or get it digitally off Comixology if you prefer not leaving the house for your comics, like me.
Ben Oliver is back on art after a fill-in artist last issue, and thankfully it makes this issue much more enjoyable than #4 as a result. His more photo-realistic and yet washed-out style gives things a kind of dreamy look and makes the rather insane violence in this series easier to take. Batman’s here, presumably to boost sales, which is kind of disappointing because this really felt like something outside of the usual Bat-family thus far and I’d hate to see Batwing sucked into the normal Gotham circle. Anyway, Massacre invades the Citadel, former home of the retired Kingdom superteam, but proves to be a less homicidal foe than his first four appearances. That naturally has Batwing and Batman both confused and worried, although Batwing uses a much more direct approach to express his anger at the situation. This dude has some issues, no question about it. Finally, the big showdown with the real Massacre will end the first arc next issue, and we’ll see where they go from there. Definitely a mid-range title, but it’s one I’m still enjoying enough to buy as long as things stay in Africa and avoid too many crossovers.
Justice League International #5
As much as this is a decently enjoyable read, I’m starting to think it’s silly to continue reviewing it because I never feel like there’s anything to say about it. I will note that it’s really throwing me off to see Booster Gold being developed into an actual leader who acts competently and solves problems and stuff. So yeah, the JLI bands together to stop the guy trying to stripmine the entire Earth and inflicts some collateral damage in the process, but Booster rightly points out that the bad guys were stopped with a minimum of lives lost, so mission accomplished. There was some funny moments with Godiva being unaccustomed to fighting enemies in space (“You’re attacking me with your HAIR?”), but overall this still feels like it’s overstuffed with cast members where only a few would suffice. Really, only Booster, Guy, Rocket Red, Fire and Ice are needed here. Batman is just there for sales numbers and the others for ethnic diversity. It’s fine, but it could be much better.
The world’s biggest, dumbest comic continues on a great run, this time bringing Frankenstein (Agent of SHADE) into the mix for a big, dumb giant fight so epic that even the letterer sits back to watch instead of adding sound effects. Seems that Brother Eye wants more information on SHADE, so he allows Kevin Kho to beat the hell out of Frankenstein as distraction while he hacks into their systems. Eye’s casual boredom with the situation while Frankenstein drops an explosive gasoline tanker onto OMAC is tremendous, as is Kho waking up with an arm attached to his wrist. Luckily, this is a one-and-done issue, but if you wish you can follow the story into Frankenstein next week as well. Maybe I will, DC, maybe I will. I love the classic Keith Giffen art look, the light humor, and the way SHIT BLOWS UP REAL GOOD. They give you your $4 worth and then some, and I really appreciate that in a comic.
The winners this week: Animal Man/Swamp Thing! But I liked everything I read, even if I didn’t know what the hell was going on in Uncanny X-Force. But lots of other people are raving about it so it’s probably good and I’m just X-phobic or something.