This Week in Comics—January 8, 2014

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Archie hits the streets of Riverdale to find his parents while Betty and Veronica face horrors at the Lodge mansion, Gambit finds himself as part of a new team, the Avengers work to protect the Earth from a new threat, Black Widow tries to atone for her past, the heroes of Earth 2 find hope in their battle against Superman, Quantum and Woody team with white supremacists, and Mulder finds an ally from the past might have returned.

Due to the extreme weather in the Midwest, this entry of “This Week in Comics” is a bit delayed, but it was well worth the wait.  The winner for the week continues to be Afterlife with Archie, but Earth 2 is quickly becoming another fun read.  X-Files—Season 10 also continues to be fun and Marvel kicks off some new titles in their All-New Marvel Now line with mixed results.

This Week in Comics—January 8, 2013 includes:  Afterlife with Archie #3, All-New X-Factor #1, Avengers World #1, Black Widow #1, Earth 2 #19, Quantum and Woody (2) #7, and The X-Files—Season 10 #8.

Afterlife with Archie #3

Publisher:  Archie Comics

Cover Price:  $2.99

Writer:  Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Artist:  Francesco Francavilla

Date:  February 2014

Title:  “Sleepover”

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Afterlife with Archie #3

Riverdale has fallen to the zombie plague accidentally started by Jughead.  Now as Veronica, Betty, and their friends hide in the Lodge mansion, Archie hits the streets of Riverdale in a last ditch effort to locate his parents before it is too late.

Afterlife with Archie is a surprise hit and one of the best comics of last year…now it is taking over this year.  The comic in art and style just gets it right and is quickly becoming one of the few comics I really look forward to.

The series takes a rather tired subject (zombies), but still manages to breathe new life into them (pun intended).  By placing them with the Archie gang, you get a real fun blend that doesn’t feel insulting to either the zombie genre or so far from a regular Archie comic that it seems alien.

It is aided by the great art of Francesco Francavilla who really captures that EC horror Tales from the Crypt feel that they are trying to get.  Francavilla’s toughest job is to create “real” Archie characters but also have them still resemble the original comic.  He’s mastered it and it helps add to the idea that you are reading a real Archie comic (instead of one of those gross “real world” Archie comics that they tried in 2000s).

I can’t recommend this title enough.  The issue contains a back-up old horror story (Horripilate Host) from the Chilling Adventures in Sorcery series from the ’70s and it seems that it is going to be a continuing feature.  Sales have proven that Afterlife with Archie is growing in popularity, and I honestly don’t know where the series is going to go, but I’m having fun find out.

All-New X-Factor #1

Publisher:  Marvel Comics

Cover Price:  $3.99

Writer:  Peter David

Artist:  Carmine Di Giandomencio

Date:  March 2014

Title:  —

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All-New X-Factor #1

X-Factor’s name has been sold to a corporation called Serval Industries.  Now, with a goal to create the first corporate funded superhero team, Gambit, Polaris, and Quicksilver have been recruited as the team’s first members.  Their first mission is to raid an A.I.M. laboratory…which might be experimenting on superhuman subjects.

All-New X-Factor is part of Marvel’s All-New Marvel Now line in which they are irritatingly relauching all their series again (remember when #1 meant something?)  The comic picks up from the end of X-Factor which ended with X-Factor (2) #262 (November 2013).

I have always liked Peter David’s X-Factor.  I fell off reading the regular series, and have kind of regretted it…I will say that this issue sadly did give me a reason to pick it up again.

Though I liked the issue, I don’t feel much happened in it.  I wanted a bit more story and less Gambit/Wolverine and Gambit/Polaris.  As mentioned I was a big fan of David’s X-Factor and especially liked his original run on the original series.  Seeing Quicksilver and Polaris back on the team is a nice first step to getting some of the old gang together again…something I wouldn’t be opposed to.

I liked Carmine Di Giandomencio’s art for the series, but sometimes the muted colors of the issue got a bit much.  The art has a very foreign style to it and kind of reminds me of the stretched characters of Aeon Flux or something.  I do enjoy the character designs and look forward to see what other characters will show up.

I think I might actually get All-New X-Factor #2 despite not approving of Marvel’s continuous attempts to create interest by relaunching series.  If a series is well written and it is getting attention (something X-Factor might not have been doing), don’t relaunch it!  Yes, it worked here, but create buzz for series in other ways…not renumbering.

Avengers World #1

Publisher:  Marvel Comics

Cover Price:  $3.99

Writer:  Jonathan Hickman/Nick Spencer

Artist:  Stefano Caselli

Date:  March 2014

Title:  —

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Avengers World #1

Captain America has a lot on his plate.  The entire Earth is now under the Avengers’ protection and keeping it safe is a full time job.  With teams spread out around the globe in response to various threats, a main source of danger is evolving on A.I.M. Island which could pose a threat to the Avengers and the world.

Avengers World #1 is part of Marvel’s All-New Marvel Now! imprint that is both creating new series and relaunching current series.  I don’t like all the relaunches, but I am ok with new series…if they are necessary.

The events in this comic seem to spin out the confusing and clunky Infinity (also penned by Hickman).  I will say that I read a lot of Hickman’s Avengers up to Infinity, but Infinity ended it for me by spreading itself too thin and asking readers to read too many of the overpriced Avengers tie in series.

Avengers World #1 does streamline the title a bit and I do like Hickman’s team choices…but it feels like more of the Avengers.  The series seems to lack the focus that I want from the series.  If you put Avengers World #1 in front of me without a cover and told me to read it, I’d just assume it was the Avengers.  Even a lot of the Spider-Man series back in the day had specific supporting characters to specific titles…here it seems like all the characters  just show up in all the titles…if the Avengers are about effeciancy, the writers of Avengers definitely aren’t.

I am not a big fan of Stefano Caselli’s art.  It is extremely average and he has a lot of “eye” issues (like the saying goes, the eyes are the windows to the soul and I always think that they are the hardest thing to draw).  A lot of the characters here are a bit too doe-eyed when their bodies are more real.

Avengers World probably isn’t going to get a second issue with me.  It wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t great.  With a ton of Avengers titles, I’m worried about being “tricked” into believing I’m getting a full story again like with Infinity which only offered part of a story.  I won’t find myself buying three to five issues to understand one.

Black Widow (2) #1

Publisher:  Marvel Comics

Writer:  Nathan Edmondson

Artist:  Phil Noto

Cover Price:  $3.99

Date:  March 2014

Title:  “Raison D’Etre”

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Black Widow #1

Natasha Romanov is an Avenger and also one of the best assassins alive.  With her choice of assignments, Natasha finds herself jetting the globe to Dubai to stop an attempted kill.  Using unethical methods to find her target’s killer, Black Widow wonders if she’ll ever atone for her past.

I have never been a Black Widow fan…and I was never a Hawkeye fan.  Both characters have been tied together due to their past and with Hawkeye having one of the best series out there, I decided to give Black Widow a try.

The story in the comic is very, very simple.  I actually expected more from it and it appears almost as a standalone issue (something almost of heard of in modern comics).  I do find it a bit of an odd way to start a series since the story has no hook to bring the reader back.

Without a hook, the story must survive on writing and art.  I do like some of what the story accomplished with Natasha’s quest for redemption, but she’s an Avenger and not a villain.  She has proven herself in battle and saved the world countless times so the idea that she is seeking redemption is a bit far-fetched for this character.

The art is also a bit on the fringe.  I like some aspects of Phil Noto’s style and it reminds me a bit of Bill Sienkiewicz who helped me get into comic because of the bizarre looking art on his run on New Mutants.  If the story had been a bit harder hitting, I might have liked the art more.

I give a tepid thumbs up to Black Widow (2) #1, but I’m not sure on it.  I definitely didn’t hate it, but it didn’t leave me craving for next month.  I do like that the series a new series instead of a just a relaunched continuing series which Marvel Now seems to be all about.

Earth 2 #19

Publisher:  DC Comics

Writer:  Tom Taylor

Artist:  Nicola Scott

Cover Price:  $2.99

Date:  March 2014

Title:  “The Dark Age” Part 3

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Earth 2 #19

Superman is taking down the world and preparing it for colonization by the people of Apokolips.  With the heroes of Earth forced into hiding, Mister Terrific and Flash find themselves prisoners of the Kryptonian.  Meanwhile, a mysterious new Batman, Red Tornado, Jimmy Olsen, and Marella are about to discover a hidden weapon under Arkham that could change the course of the battle.

I was really worried about Earth 2 when James Robinson left.  It is usually a sign of doom when someone else takes over a comic so close to its creator.  My worries were unfounded, and Earth 2 is continuing to be a great read.

Earth 2 is like reading Watchmen-Lite.  The series is dark and twisted, but it isn’t to the same level of Watchmen.  It is interesting to see all these characters you’ve known for years in a different light, but it still holds true to the characters.  I don’t know if DC can maintain this change to classic characters, but it is fun for now (I hate to lose some of the original Earth-2 characters).

I keep looking forward to the comic just to see where it will go.  While other DC comics have been following their normal paths in the New 52, Earth 2 is completely original and unpredictable…but it also manages to work as a stand-alone comic.

Earth 2 is worth checking out.  If you quit with James Robinson, give Tom Taylor a chance.  It is a fun series worth you attention.  At $2.99, it is also a cheaper comic and definitely worth the investment.

Quantum and Woody (2) #7

Publisher:  Valiant Comics

Writer:  James Asmus

Artist:  Ming Doyle

Cover Price:  $3.99

Date:  January 2014

Title:  —

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Quantum and Woody (2) #7

Quantum and Woody are in trouble again!  As Eric is held by a racist cult which it turns out worships Quantum, Woody finds himself prisoner of a religious nut Magnum.  Woody’s escape leads to a capture by the cult and a forced team-up with the cult.

I still consider Quantum and Woody Valiant’s “other” funny book.  With the superior Archer & Armstrong, I have a hard time getting into this comic which tries a bit too hard to be wacky.  Quantum and Woody (2) #7 continues this trend.

It doesn’t feel like enough happens in this issue.  I generally like Valiant books and don’t mind shelling out an extra dollar for the $3.99 book because I admire what Valiant is doing and the challenge they are facing as a third (or really fourth) party comic publisher…but I’m just not enjoying Quantum and Woody.

Much like something like Family Guy (which I’m not a fan of), Quantum and Woody seems to go for the easy laugh.  Like Family Guy, sometimes this laugh works but it often just comes off as a bit of lazy writing.  69 and her desire for cybersex is a great example of it in this issue…it just seemed thrown in and pointless.

I do like a lot of the aspects of the art.  Ming Doyle reminds me a lot of Mike Allred’s art.  It has a simplistic aspect to it that is fun, but actually fails when it gets too detailed.  It still is more interesting than most art (but I’m not a big fan of the character designs)…I’d love to see her art on some of Marvel and DC’s more mainstream books.

Quantum and Woody probably isn’t going to make the cut after this storyline wraps up.  It just isn’t enjoyable enough to keep me reading.  I wish I liked it more but I think I’ll stick to Archer & Armstrong which gets the balance better.

The X-Files—Season 10 #8

Publisher:  IDW

Writer:  Joe Harris

Artist:  Michael Walsh

Cover Price:  $3.99

Date:  January 2014

Title:  “Being for the Benefit of Mr. X”

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The X-Files—Season 10 #8

Mr. X was always a source of information for Mulder.  When he died, Mulder lost a powerful ally.  Now, Mulder and Scully have discovered evidence that Mr. X might not be as dead as they believed.

With the benefit of being a comic, The X-Files—Season 10 can bring back characters and people from The X-Files’ prime…with no aging or contract negotiations.  This issue is a great example of how the comic can be a fun for fans of the show.

The story for this issue plays out like a real X-Files episode.  After a fun two issue “Monster of the Week” storyline involving the Flukemen, a story tied more to the X-Files mythology is back.  Filled with flashbacks and current events, the writers of the comic do a good job recreating the series.  Much like the series, the story doesn’t necessarily completely make sense and you have a feeling (like Mulder and Scully) that you are having to dig for the truth…the experimental drug, the blood vial, and the liquefying Mr. X don’t play out in this issue.

I do commend Michael Walsh for his art.  One of the hardest things for an artist portraying real actors is to capture the essence of the actor while being allowed to be original.  I especially like the art for the flashback scenes which are fun and stylish…I hope Walsh gets to do more stylized art in future issues.

The X-Files—Season 10 isn’t just a good comic for fans of the series, but a pretty good read on its own.  I don’t know that a non-fan would like it (or get it), but it is a fun comic.  It is one of the comics I do look forward to each month and hope continues.  I am also interested in the upcoming spin-off title The X-Files:  The Conspiracy which even has a Ghostbusters tie-in.  I hope they don’t ruin the comic, by too many tie-ins, but I do like that IDW is committing to it.

Preceded By:

This Week in Comics—December 31, 2013:  Holiday Edition

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This Week in Comics—January 15, 2014

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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