This Week: All-New Invaders #1, All-New X-Factor #2, All-New X-Men #22, Avengers #25, Batwoman #27, Black Widow #2, Deadly Class #1, Eternal Warrior #5, Hacktivist #1, Hawkeye #16, Leave it to Chance – Shaman’s Rain TPB, Marvel Knights: X-Men #3, Origin II #2, Shaolin Cowboy #1-4, Wolverine and the X-Men #40, X #9, X-Men #9, X-O Manowar #21
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. If you click on a comic’s title it’ll take you to where you can buy that title on Amazon (at least until Big Pete starts selling comics online), unless it’s not on Amazon at the time when this article is published.
The only other exception to the link in the title rule is the Redacted Spider-Man, because no one should be reading that. We’ll link you to good Spider-Man comics instead. Non-title links will take you to places I think are either informative or funny, depending upon whim.
Savvy? Everyone with us so far? Cool. Onwards goes us.
Starting this off with a strange little story, but bear with me. See, I gave up reading comics a while back – I ended up in another country where I couldn’t get comics, and when I got back in town I ended up doing a bunch of stuff that didn’t leave me with a lot of spare time. Some friends of mine turned me onto a site called Scans_Daily, a small community of people that looked at comics and talked about the best of the medium. They introduced me to things like NextWave, Punisher Max, Batman City of Crime, Daredevil, the Unwritten, Fables… I cannot overstate how much their influence in bringing me back to this medium that I very clearly love. The writer of this comic is actually someone I have a great deal of respect for, personally and professionally, but he’s tied pretty closely to a moment that almost killed that site and did involve that site having to shut down and relocate. This is not to say that he is at fault, and he’s actually gone as record as saying that he didn’t expect that outcome of his complaint. MightyGodKing actually explored this very issue in detail, and I can find no fault in his summation of things. It’s just that all of that makes things a little odd for me, because I like the writer and I like this comic, but I do not want to review it. It’s a shame, too, because this comic is otherwise great. Most of the things this writer works on are, but how does one support the work of someone who nearly destroyed the means by which one got back into the medium the writers works in? I’m not sure, but I’m open to discussion.
First part of a Guardians of the Galaxy crossover, wherein a bunch of aliens come and kidnap the original X-Men after discovering that past Jean Grey is hanging out in the present. See, there’s this thing where past Jean Grey is guilty of becoming the Dark Phoenix and wiping out an entire galaxy on a whim. Of course, the Shi’ar already punished her for that and killed her, which didn’t take because Jean Grey. Anyway, those same aliens seem upset by the whole thing, or maybe they’re here to punish the X-Men for the shit the Avengers have been pulling lately. Either way, the Guardians of the Galaxy are here to help the X-Men go and rescue Jean Grey from the aliens, so we’re about to get cosmic X-Men stories, and those are pretty much always a good time.
Oh, Gods, this is pretty. So very very pretty. Seriously, this artwork is goddamn gorgeous and would be worth the price of the comic alone. Then you throw in the awesome writing and characterization and this comic pretty much becomes a must buy. There’s some spectacular character work and world building going on here, playing directly on the character as portrayed in the movie and bringing her to life with what’s already been portrayed in the comics. There’s all sorts of cool exploratory redemptive themes running through this book and it’s quickly become one of my favorite things to read – I can hardly wait for a collected trade given how strong this has been so far. We also get our first look at a character that looks to be the villain for this story, and he’s established in grand and terrifying fashion. This comic feels like the best parts of Batwoman and Sleeper mingled with intelligent hopeful spycraft. It makes for a heady package that needs to be read to be believed.
So, it looks like Alyssa Milano has quietly matured into one of the best people. That’s sort of cool, and something we knew nothing about until we saw the solicits for this comic and noted that she was involved. That made us look at this title where we might not have otherwise, which, well, that was a good thing. This is one of the better ideas carried out properly in a comic we’ve seen in a while – two internet moguls doing their best to save the world from itself instead of being selfish gits. There’s a whole plethora of complex issues touched on by this comic, and it’s handled with the sort of subtle deftness that manages to not overdue anything while presenting an entertaining narrative. The setting, characters, means, motivations, and conflicts have all been established without any hint of obvious exposition, and that’s as much a credit to the art as the writing. This is fantastic, and exactly the sort of comic that everyone should be studying to see how to tell a story in the medium properly.
Consistently speaking, this is Marvel’s best book now that Young Avengers has wrapped up. I mean, yeah, Black Widow is quickly closing in on that title, but Hawkeye has been running for a year and a bit now without any sign of slowing down. This comic divides its time between Clint Barton and Kate Bishop, going into what they do when they’re not being superheroes. Clint, it turns out, has pissed off some eastern Mafia in New York and is having to deal with that. Kate has been tricked, betrayed, and bamboozled out west and been moonlighting as a private investigator, which has been pretty great. She’s also made an enemy in Madame Masque, a villain I’m learning to have a healthy amount of respect for. We get some pretty strong indicators that we’re getting a returning to that feud here, which just makes me want the next issue more. The art is, as always, fantastic and meshes perfectly with the story and pacing. This whole comic is greatness.
This comic is an older title about the daughter of her world’s greatest magician, a wizard who protects the whole world and lives in one city. The mother is missing and dad is busy but does take time to check in with his daughter, an inquisitive and resourceful young woman named Chance. This is actually one of the comics that got be back into comics after my long absence, and a title I recommend to friends with kids to get them into comics. It does everything well – comedy, danger, tragedy, all the important stuff that the best sorts of stories have. It also has a great lead in Chance, who is clever and mischievous and awesome, a Harry Potter without the whining or a Percy Jackson without the idiocy. Also, Chance is a girl, so there’s that. The art and writing are charming and whimsical, fables of the very best sort. This comic has been oddly forgotten and that’s a tragedy, so if you manage to find a copy show it some love and take it home with you.
Origin II #2
Wolverine continues to be one of the most popular characters in comics, despite his general idiocy in recent comics. There’s just something about him, some primal aspect that draws people to him and makes him such a ridiculously cool concept to muck about with. It helps that he’s borderline immortal and has been kicking around for a few hundred years. We got to see him grow up from a child into a horribly traumatized man in Origins I, and this picks up where that left off. Greg got to cover the first issue of this, and he was damn lucky to get that chance – the first issue was a masterwork of a comic, the sort of legendary crafting of narrative that can completely re-inform a character. This continues where that left off, introducing two people that will haunt Logan for the rest of his life. The first is Nathaniel Essex, otherwise known as Mr. Sinister. The second is a little more personal, and will mature into Logan’s nemesis: Sabertooth. We get the first meeting of Logan and Creed here, and it’s interesting to see Creed as the more civil of the two. I’m looking forward to seeing where this is going, because Keiron Gillen is the sort of writer who does not build and then waste opportunities.
Wolverine and the X-Men #40
There’s two stories running in this comic, and both of them are equally great. The first one is tied to the overarching thread of the x-books, and has Wolverine and Cyclops working together for the first time since Schism link. They break a Sentinel making factory run by SHIELD, and the fact that SHIELD has a Sentinel making factory is the sort of thing that would make me, as a mutant, not want to be anywhere near SHIELD. Anyways, they do that and then have a drink together, working through their shit and mending some of the bridges that were burned for no goods reason. The second story also features SHIELD, this time as two undercover agents that have infiltrated the Jean Grey School with the express purpose of blowing it up. Seriously, whoever was doing the psychological profiles for deep cover assignments was asleep at the wheel when they sent in an obvious mutant hater. The kids manage to resolve things for themselves and save the school and one another without any loss of life or even serious injury. It’s pretty great. Jason Aaron, Marvel’s resident expert of writing stories on an epic level, manages both a his usual skill. The art is fun and everything is great, except that SHIELD clearly still thinks that mutants are bad guys. Good to see that casual speciesism still in effect.
No comic currently being published comes close to the greatness that is X-O Manowar. The alien space suit that made our favorite Space Viking invincible has been taken from him, and he and his people have been taken captive by the United States government. They plan on squeezing him for information, hoping to somehow make themselves relevant in a post-Harada world. Aric makes as startling discovery by accident and it looks like this whole comic is going to start moving in a whole new direction, which is actually sorta great. This comic continually evolves, building on its mythology and deepening that same mythology, and the sheer complexity that has been built here in less than two years is, quite simply, staggering. This comic is very much the soul of the Valiant relaunch, and month after month this comic proves just how perfect a choice that was.
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.
Maybe there are consequences for putting reality in peril? We’re finding out here; the Avengers were the original Marvel super team from back in World War II, and they were pretty great. Getting them back together to unveil a forgotten character from the past could be interesting, and the set-up is cool, but the Sentry has still left a bad taste in my mouth. I hated the fucking Sentry, but I’m still willing to give this a shot.
So, this is a thing that happened. Rogue planets and intersecting realities and people acting mostly in character. The original Avengers popping into an AIM controlled lab is kind of cute and shockingly well-written, but the rest of this is just sort of there.
Continues to be a perfectly average comic. There’s a concerted effort to try and ape the lost art style that is appreciated but not quite as good – at least, not yet. We’ll have to see where this goes, I guess.
The first half of this comic is about a kid on the streets, having been abandoned after watching his parents die. It’s about the sort of bullshit that happens to those that fall between the cracks, and the minimalist color helps set the tone. Then we get into a hidden school of assassins and what it takes to get in, and it’s pretty damn great.
We get a time jump to a dystopian fantasy future and all the bullshit that goes with it – the idea that cities are evil mingled with the horror of a world without gods, the exact world that the Eternal Warrior has been trying to create in this series. It’s all pretty great, and a nice set up for the horror that is sure to come.
The choice to resurrect the Marvel Knights imprint has been pretty damn great so far, and this story continues to be pretty Twin Peakish and over all excellent. Haunting artwork and stories delving into the personal hells of each character involved in this story make this one of the more interesting books Marvel is publishing right now.
Big Pete turned me on this comic, selling me on the first four issues by virtue of the opening of the first. There’s a couple people in office that have read that opening and have ended up giggling uncontrollably. This feels more like the best parts of Samurai Jack than the Samurai Jack comics, which might be the best description I can give of this comic.
Continuing the trick of being one of the more conceptually interesting superhero stories, X confronts a villain who wants to die for one sin, but X doesn’t kill crazy people for reasons of his own. In this case, though, he might have to. There’s a lot of interesting things going on in this comic, and it’s continuing to build a mythology nicely. Worth checking out.
Better than the last month’s offering, but not as good as where it started. The art is expressive and fun and the characterization is better than it was the previous issue, and the choice to focus on Rachael Grey in lieu of Kitty Pryde was a good one. Also, really like the idea of the Sisterhood and the characters involved there, but really don’t like how some of those characters are being written. It’s frustrating, because I really want to like this comic and the ideas are all sorts of neat.