This Week: All-Star Western #25, Akaneiro #1-3, All New X-Men #19, Aquaman #25, Avengers Arena #18, Avengers Assemble #21, Batman – the Dark Knight #25, Cataclysm – X-Men #1, Catwoman #25, Damien Son of Batman #2, Five Ghosts #7, Hawkeye #14, Helheim #1-5, Infinity #6, New Avengers #12, Powers – the Bureau #8, Rat Queens #3, Revival #15, Scarlet Spider #24, Superior Spider-Man #22, Talon #13, Thief of Thieves #18, Walking Dead #117, Wolverine and the X-Men #38, Wolverine and the X-Men Annual #1
We are Living Myth Media, and we are here to read comic books! Every week, we go and feed our addiction (single issues mostly online, trades mostly from conventions or Big Pete’s). And every Wednesday we respect Woden, the God of Comics, and we speak of the stories that he, in his greatness, has brought us. We speak of it on twitter.
That’s a preview, though, and there’s time we don’t pick up the things we were looking for or end up picking up things we didn’t talk about. So, here’s what comics we got this week and what we think about ‘em after the reading.
We rate these things on a five symbol scale. The first two symbols are for art, the second two for story, and the last is based on whether we think this is a gateway comic – is this something we would lend to friends to get them into this series? This last one is a tricky thing, but if we think it is, then the comic gets this symbol.
Symbols can be broken down into quarters and look like this from whole to quarter: , , , and . Two symbols is a good comic, three symbols is worth taking the time to hunt down and look at. Anything at four or more symbols is of the highest possible quality.
Top five highest rated comics get their covers shown, or anything rated fours symbols or above, whatever is needed. We want you to be able to find the greatness, because that’s how we roll.
Everyone with us so far? Cool. Onwards goes us.
The X-Men are the true and unsung heroes of the Marvel Universe. Sort of like Spider-Man before he became Redacted, the mutants are looked down upon, denigrated, mocked, and hated, and despite this they still find it within themselves to do the right thing. One of their leaders, Cyclops, is currently taking the fallout for something that the Avengers did (and that we’ll be talking about at length, soon – ed.), but they still go out and save the world on a regular basis. This comic reintroduces my favorite X-villains of recent years, the Purifiers, and brings them into contact with the Original X-Men From The Past Who Are Now Stuck In The Present, and gives us our first look at X-23 since she was kidnapped, nuked, and then ignored in Avengers Arena. This comic is pure set-up for the fun to come and it does a good job of that, building the characters and their conflicts and themes in short order while moving things forward. The art is decent enough. Worth hunting down to see where it’s going, because this could be the start of something great.
Aquaman continues to be DC’s strongest comic. It was Batwoman, but, well… This entire run has addressed and undone every argument that people have for disliking Aquaman, bringing his story into something not only readable, but unique and awesome in its own right. It’s a shame, too, because the way that DC is going few people are going to want to branch out into titles published by DC that they’re not reading already, but I guess that’s all part of their plan. It bothers me how good this comic is – the story is deep and complex, equal parts action and politics and tragedy, with characters that more than live up to the demands the story places upon them. The art is among DC’s brightest and best, probably the very best they have left. This single issue wraps up two years worth of storytelling and introduces where the story is going, so if you still do have any kind of faith in DC and want to read something that proves how awesome they can be, jump in and test out the waters. This comic is great.
Last week, we said that Cataclysm Ultimates was pretty terrible and wondered if it was because the Avengers were involved. Cataclysm Spider-Man and Hunger were all plenty fun. We can now say that our theory has merit, because this comic immediately picks things up again and starts wrapping up the complexities of the Ultimate mutant line in a single issue. Borrowing a page from Valiant’s awesome Harbinger link, we get brief introductions of everyone – names, powers, snippets of who they are – to help new readers understand what’s happening. We also get Rogue narrating everything, bringing everyone up to speed on what’s been going wrong in the Ultimate line for mutantkind (hint: everything). They’re looking for one of their own who was lost in the last big mutant catastrophe, and upon finding those people they notice Galactus getting ready to eat Ultimate Earth like a cheeseburger. One of them panics, teleportation happens, and now the X-Men are stranded in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by Gah Lak Tus, and probably about to be eaten. Can anyone save them? Well, yes, but it’s gotta be a temporary reprieve. The art is good, the story better, and it manages to introduce a world of history while also bringing that history to an end. This is really quite good.
I am shocked by this comic. Shocked, I say. Art that has some basic understanding of anatomy and isn’t fodder for the Escher Girls? A story that’s actually sympathetic and fun and interesting? A comic entitled Catwoman that is about stealing and corruption and the tainted heroism that is the best Gotham City can hope for? Ye Gods, but this is just great all the way through. Why can’t we have more comics like this, DC? Why? This has the potential to be better even than the legendary Brubaker run on the title, and Selina hasn’t looked this good since she was being drawn by Paul Dini. This is another one of those idiotic Year Zero things that DC is pushing in an attempt to drive away old readers, but someone must have not gotten the memo to make it terrible because this comic is fucking great. It’s a story of Selina’s first major effort as a thief, how things went wrong and how quick thinking and skill got her out of it and landed her on top. Hey, DC and writers in general – the sexiest quality that anyone can have is competence, and the Selina Kyle of this comic has that in spades. If you like Catwoman you owe it to yourself to hunt this down. Fucking fantastic.
Is this comic Marvel’s best, or is Young Avengers? It’s honestly a toss-up between the two, with Scarlet Spider rounding out the line-up. Hawkeye used to be about the adventures of both heroes that carry that name, Clint Barton and Kate Bishop (do not call her Katie). Clint’s been hogging the spotlight lately, as Kate left after his drama became a little much for her. She took over the annual and she’s back in this issue, rightly taking her place here. Cut off from all funding, she’s decided to take a page from Luke Cage’s book and be a hero-for-hire, or at least a private investigator without a license. This comic always promises fun and always delivers, as Kate tries to do right and make some money and discovers that she had a lot of growing up to do. This also moves the story with Kate’s new archenemy forward, in the delightfully terrifying Madame Masque, last seen in the aforementioned Annual. The story and dialogue are fantastic, and even the introduction is amusing. The art is minimalist and very retro and still somehow incredibly expressive and I kinda love it. This is exactly the sort of comic that you should use to introduce people to the medium, and that’s all the more reason to love it.
Asimov used to edit and publish these anthology novels. One of my favorites was titled simply Wizards. All of them started with a brief essay, and the one on Wizards broke down the meaning of the word. The prefix, wiz-, very clearly means wise. But the suffix… while, what other words end in –ard? Coward, braggard, drunkard… a word that ends in -ard means that someone is doing something to excess. Anyone that can call down curses and lightning and talk with the gods, Asimov states, is too wise for their own good. And then, of course, there’s Norse mythology. I love Norse mythology. It’s basically the most hardcore collection of legends this world will ever know, and the flexibility of their occult philosophies are pretty much unmatched. This is a story about the darker aspects of those myths. Two witches go to war and ignore the damage they are causing the world, and this comes back to bite them in the ass. No one gets away with anything in Norse myth, and that holds true here. The art and story are perfectly meshed into a whole that is greater than either would be alone, and despite the deep subject matter it is an easy world to enter and understand. This is great comics so far, and I’m sorta upset that I’ve only learned about it recently. Share that sense with me. Pick up this comic, and enjoy it for the wonder it is.
Lovely artwork cannot begin to mask how fucking terrible a story this is. At least most of the characters feel like themselves again. Why do I hate this story? The Avengers fuck up everything (literally, they fuck up creation), causing the builders of the cosmos to come and try and correct the problem. The Avengers then allow entire galactic civilizations to die for the mistakes that they’ve made, then use treachery to kill one of the builders, and that’s all the others need to rally to the banner of the Avengers and defeat the people that built everything in the first place – creatures that up until that point had (a) seemed unbeatable and, (b) no one had ever heard of. Oh, and now everyone loves the Avengers and thinks they’re the greatest. Also, this story turned Thanos into a rapist when Thanos Rising made it very clear that he had no interest in that particular crime. Keep in mind that Thanos Rising isn’t some long ago project, it started at about the same time Infinity did. This was dumb and not even internally consistent in theme, concept, plot, character, or story. I’d say thank god it’s over, but, well…
… this is the epilogue for Marvel’s latest Big Dumb Event Thing. Dr. Strange is angry that he got jobbed to someone no one had ever heard of before this story, the Avengers are all congratulating themselves on how they tricked entire galaxies into dying for them, and Thanos is a statue again. The same sort of statue he was back when Adam Warlock dealt with him in the seventies. I’d complain about the lack of Adam Warlock in this story, given that he is basically Space Jesus, but given how terrible this was I’m sorta glad he had nothing to do with tripe. Topping things off, we get hints for the next bunch of stupid Marvel Events, as more super-aliens we’ve never heard of are hinted at during the end of this book, after the heroes use a deus ex machina to win – literally, a new character wakes up from her nap and beats the previously invincible bad guys, who aren’t really bad so much as trying to save the universe the Avengers mangled. Not enough? We also learn that the Avengers murdering time has another consequence, in that reality itself is dying. Earth’s mightiest heroes, ladies and gentlemen. One more thing: the last time Thanos became a statue, it was the last ditch effort of a dead hero trying to redeem himself by saving a series of overmatched, exhausted, and thoroughly demoralized heroes from beyond the grave. It meant something. It means fucking nothing here, which is pretty much what the rest of this event has been. Avoid at all costs.
This comic is a hell of a lot of fun, and sorta reminds me of the best fantasy role playing games I’ve been in. A group of adventurers called the Rat Queens are operating out of a large port city, minding their own business when someone hires assassins to take them out. It’s not the mayor or the merchant’s guild, which leaves them stumped until the very end of this book, which has a nice little twist. There’s an awful lout of character development here, and it moves very quickly. I’m going to need back issues, stat. The art is perfectly good and easy to follow, with interesting character designs that body types and expressions; it’s nothing ground breaking, but if this were to be the standard all comics aspired to I’d be pretty happy. The story is easy enough to pick up on; this is my first issue and I’m already invested in the characters and their world, which makes me wonder what I was missing in the earlier issues. If you like fantasy or have ever been a pen-and-paper gamer or really liked Demon Knights or Skullkickers you should do yourself a favor and track this comic down. It’s pretty great.
One of the best horror comics in the shelves right now, and a much more interesting zombie story. For those of you that haven’t been reading this, Revival is about a small town in Wisconsin where, on day, the dead came back to life. They’re still corpses and they’re cold and now not killable, but they’re otherwise alive in every possible way. They’re intelligent, active, and possessed of as much agency as they had when they were alive. No one knows why this has happened, the town has been quarantined, and terrible things are happening pretty much everywhere. The main character is the daughter of the town sheriff, she a detective herself, and she’s trying to figure things out while everyone else is playing off preconceived notions and trying to make the facts fit in with their worldviews. It’s the humanity of the story that makes it so frightening, and it’s on excellent display here. The art is perfectly suited for the story and easy enough to follow, and it’s a simple enough tale to slip into. If you like thoughtful horror you really owe it to yourself to read this.
Marvel’s third best book. No, seriously. I ripped pretty heavily into New Avengers and Infinity above, and I’ll rip into the Redacted Spider-Man below, but there’s a pretty equal distribution of good and bad comics that comes out of Marvel, and when they do good they do really good. This comic is about the formerly murderous clone of Peter Parker, who basically had to kill to survive until that was fixed and now he just wants to live a normal life but has been caught up in being Houston’s first superhero. It’s been great comics from the get-go, mixing dry humor with action and never letting the pathos bog things down. There’s a little more pathos in this issue, but it still balances itself nicely and really shows how far Kaine (the aforementioned clone) has come since the beginning of this comic. The art is good and the story, dealing with themes of consequence and damnation and redemption, are all powerful and moving stuff. I know people that stopped reading Marvel when they found out about the Redacted Spider-Man that started reading this as soon as they found out it was a thing. And it is a thing. Read it and enjoy it when it lasts, and hopefully we’ll see Kaine and Arcely join the New Warriors when that starts up again.
I hate body swap stories – it’s a trope that can be played to good effect, but often isn’t. This isn’t. This is repeatedly crass, with a writer who seems to enjoy pissing off fans of the character while regaling us with messages of his own genius. The story continues to be an insulting mess that is going to take years to fix properly, unless it’s ret-conned into something else. Fuck this comic – it’s been veering between atrocious and passable since One More Day, back before it became superior. Everyone involved in this story needs to be taking stupid pills for anything in this story to work – Slotto delivers a full-on supervillain monologue and no one fucking notices? This comic is bullshit. That said, the art is odd but suits Spider-Man perfectly, and I hope the art team sticks with the book when someone is given the herculean task of fixing this godawful mess before the next movie comes out. Avoid this… thing. We’ll help; clicking on the title of this comic will take you to a much better one that is also by Dan Slott. You’re welcome.
I keep saying that pretty much everything that has gone wrong in the Marvel Universe over the past decade or so can be blamed on the Avengers. It’s funny, then, how the X-Men get blamed for everything despite doing nowhere near the damage that the Avengers do while saving a world that fears them, hates them, and has built giant robots to exterminate them. In Battle of the Atom, we learned that SHIELD is building those giant death robots that were built to destroy mutants. Wolverine, who is an Avenger as well as an X-Men, seems surprised that SHIELD would lump him in with the rest of the mutants and takes that personally. SHIELD, of course, slips some sleeper agents into Wolverine’s school because that’s going to work out well for everyone. No one would dream of pulling this shit with the Avengers, who we should note have actually caused the end of reality. Anyway, we get to check out the school and it’s been a while, so that’s sorta neat. There’s some nice dialogue and character moments and this is definitely setting up a lot of stories to come, so this is the perfect jumping on point for anyone looking to celebrate the mutant lifestyle.
Comics we ended up reading this week, but don’t really have anything to note in any real depth. If you have questions about what we’ve rated any of the comics below, ask us in the comments and we’ll respond within a day or two.
No secret that we love American McGee – it’s hard not to. Alice was a hell of a good time, and the game that goes with this comic is nothing to sneeze at, either. This is effectively Little Red Riding Hood told as a samurai fable, with a heroine that needs to saving. You might have some trouble finding it, but it’s worth tracking down.
When people ask what comics in the nu52 are worth reading, this one inevitably gets mentioned. There are reasons – it’s just a good western tale with elements of the supernatural thrown in. It doesn’t shy away from the tropes of either, or from the problems inherent to both genres. Instead, it celebrates the madness that it is, and does so gleefully, perfectly, joyfully. Might be a good substitute for Batwoman, depending upon what happens there.
Thank gods this is over. The art is there but as least easy to follow, and the story is… well, fuck this story. The best part about this comic has always been the letters page and the writer’s notes, and both continue to be informative and interesting. They’re worth the price of the comic alone.
Not much to say about this. It’s a good comic and I don’t think I wasted anything by reading it, but nothing especially sticks out about it either. Sorta there, I guess? I remember liking it while I was reading it, but that was twenty minutes ago and I’ve got nothing to complain about or commend. Weird.
A Clayface story! Yay! A simple one off with some decent dialogue, but nothing really happens here that we haven’t see before and Clayface never seems like a threat. Dude was scarier in the Batman Animated Series. It’s not about being GrimDark, it’s about quality of narrative – and this comic is lacking that. Shame, cuz the dialogue is great.
Wasn’t it Bruce who died last issue? Yes? It was, right? But now it’s Dick Grayson who lived and Dick who died and… you know what? When the fucking same writer from one issue ago can’t be bothered to keep track of who he killed that issue, I have no time for your fucking comic. The art is perfectly acceptable.
Pure pulpy goodness. We’d heard about this comic – a sort of Indiana Jones serial adventure, where each scene leads to the next, and we’re going to be doing some experimenting with that sort of storytelling ourselves in the very near future (quiet, you – ed.). The art and story are fun and easy to follow and what more do we need?
This comic ebbs and flows, and this is one of those issues where it’s ebbing and moving on to the next big storyline. A moment to catch your breath and get rooted before the next big movement. Despite that, this is still pretty excellent and it’ll be interesting to see where this goes next. It pretty much always is.
What the fucking fuck? You know, the Court of Owls was some really good storytelling, and the concept of the Talon was a nice little riff on the Order of St. Dumas and Azrael. This is… something. The art is decent enough, but this feels like something between low-rent Nikita or low-rent Azrael, and either way, it’s not especially good.
This is down here because I don’t want to give anything away. Thief of Thieves is freaking brilliant, basically an Ocean’s Eleven in comic book form, and it’s better than that movie was in every possible way. This is exactly the sort of thing you give to people that are sick of the cape-and-spandex set.
You mean the zombies aren’t the real monsters? The real monster is man? I never would have guessed that. Look, the real horror of the zombie tale is the slow decay of human civility in the face of death, and Kirkman gets that and has crafted pretty much the best zombie story since Shaun of the Dead. Funny thing: I’m currently listening to “My Body’s a Zombie for You” by Dead Man’s Bones. Well, I think it’s funny.
A Kid Gladiator spectacular that actually went a long way to making me like the character, who I’ve never really cared for. Kid Gladiator and his father are from an alien species that becomes more powerful as they gain confidence. The are is great and the story fantastic. It’s set against the backdrop of Infinity, so it has that working against it, but still somehow manages to be one of my favorite comics this month.