This Week in Comics—March 5, 2014

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Archie learns zombie love is tough love, Archer has a meet-and-greet with Bloodshot, the evil Superman gives the Atom a hand, Magneto welcomes mutant haters to the neighborhood, Moon Knight meets a C.H.U.D. in the sewers of New York City, She-Hulk faces the danger of hiring a paralegal assistant, Nika and William learn their love does span to test of time, Aquaman gets voted most likely to be attacked by Darkseid at his class reunion, H.A.R.D. Corps faces hard times, the Fantastic Four are “Four No More”…again, and Hawkeye and his brother have some quality time together.

This is a big week of comics due to me slacking off for the two prior weeks.  I have seven new comics for this week (Afterlife with Archie #4, Archer & Armstrong (2) #18, Earth 2 #21, Magneto #1, Moon Knight (6) #1,  She-Hulk (5) #2, and Trillium #7) and four “back issues” (Aquaman (5) #28, Bloodshot & H.A.R.D. Corps:  H.A.R.D. Corps #0, Fantastic Four (4) #1, Hawkeye (2) #15)…just look below for complete reviews!

Afterlife with Archie #4

Publisher:  Archie Comics

Cover Price:  $2.99

Writer:  Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Artist:  Francesco Francavilla

Date:  April 2014

Title:  “Archibald Rex”

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Afterlife with Archie #4

Archie’s attempt to get to his parents leads to tragedy as his beloved dog Vegas faces down the zombie Hotdog.  Archie and his mother also learn that Hotdog visited Archie’s father…and Archie is forced to make a tough decision as the zombie plague grows.

Afterlife with Archie has rapidly become one of my favorite titles.  I am so over zombies, but this comic does make it fresh with clever writing that finds a good balance between the humor that is Archie and the classic horror comics of the ’50s.

I could say that the praise really needs to go to Francesco Francavilla who’s art just oozes atmosphere, but I think that would really be an insult to Robeto Aguirre-Sacasa who is crafting a great story that carries the art…it is horrifying and often touching at the same time.

I look forward to seeing where the series is going to go.  I like the little vignettes with other characters (like the creepy incestuous Cheryl and Jason Blossom here) and I do rather enjoy the Archie Comics horror flashbacks since they are often forgotten with the Marvel, DC, and EC horror taking the front seat…I would like a collection of their horror released sometime as well.

Archer & Armstrong (2) #18

Publisher:  Valiant Comics

Cover Price:  $3.99

Writer:  Fred Van Lente

Artist:  Pere Perez

Date:  March 2014

Title:  “Mission:  Improbable” Part 1

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Archer & Armstrong #18

Bloodshot has a new target…Obadiah Archer!  As Project Rising Spirit goes after Archer and Armstrong, Archer and Armstrong prepare their assault on Project Rising Spirit by strengthening their ties with the Master Builders.  When Archer finds himself ambushed by Bloodshot, one will surely fall!

Archer & Armstrong is my favorite comic of the relaunched Valiant (followed closely by X-O Manowar).  I love the humor and buddy feel of the comic, but it keeps a better humor/action balance than the other funny book Quantum & Woody.

Here, we get to see Archer & Armstrong’s first crossover with the Valiant Universe.  The comic previously featured an appearance by Armstrong’s brother Gilead that has since been featured in his own comic and Unity.  Crossovers make me nervous, but the first part of this crossover keeps the themes of Archer & Armstrong (but still is good with Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps fans).

The art continues to be solid and I do like Perez’s version of Bloodshot…it is a bit different than his appearance in his own comic.  One of Valiant’s great parts is that they make really good quality books…nice paper and bright coloring.  Often they appear cleaner and neater than Marvel or DC.

Archer & Armstrong continues to be a fun book and I like that they are keeping as almost a stand-alone book.  I don’t mind the occasional crossover, but I hope that this doesn’t become a trend in one of my favorite books.  The Mission:  Improbable storyline continues in Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps #20.

Earth 2 #21

Publisher:  DC Comics

Cover Price:  $2.99

Writer:  Tom Taylor

Artist:  Nicola Scott

Date:  May 2014

Title:  “The Kryptonian” Part 1

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Earth 2 #21

The battle against Superman is failing as Earth’s heroes find themselves in hiding.  The hope for the future of Earth could be in a young Kryptonian being sheltered by Batman and the band of heroes fighting against Superman.  Superman’s agents however are looking for resistance and the secret of the Kryptonian could soon be uncovered by Superman.

I am really enjoying Earth 2.  There was a lot of fear when Robinson left the title but Taylor has stepped in and proven himself with it.  I do find the cover to this issue a bit misleading since Dr. Fate plays such a little role in the issue.

Unlike the standard DC series, Earth 2 doesn’t fail to shock.  Be it Atom losing his arm (and Superman beating him with it) to Superman cutting open and dumping helpless humans from a shuttle, Earth 2 is pretty ruthless.  It is nice to see a none Vertigo, non-Elseworlds title be a bit darker and edgier, and Taylor delivers.

Taylor is backed by nice art by Nicola Scott.  I think his style is a nice blend between the old style of the ’80s (reminds me a bit of Perez’s work on Crisis on Infinite Earths) with a more modern look.  With “retro” characters the art goes well.

Earth 2 is a very non-DC DC comic.  If you aren’t that into DC, it might be enjoyable to you in that you really don’t need much background in the characters to enjoy it…however having a background does help when more minor characters like Conner Hawke and Mister Miracle do show up.

Moon Knight (6) #1

Publisher:  Marvel Comics

Cover Price:  $3.99

Writer:  Warren Ellis

Artist:  Declan Shalvey

Date:  May 2014

Title:   “Slasher”

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Moon Knight (6) #1

Moon Knight is back in New York City and secretly working with police as “Mr. Knight”.  When he’s called in on a dismemberment murder, he discovers a horror beneath the city streets., but the horror doesn’t compare to the horror that Marc Spector is going through when he learns the truth about the dissociative identity disorder.

Poor Moon Knight.  The character just has never caught a break.  Moon Knight #1 (the original series) was one of the first comics I bought as a kid and my first trip to a real comic book shop, but even that series suffered from an interesting character in dull storylines.

This version sees Marc Spector forced to cope with new problems involving his mental state but working almost as a Sherlock Holmes style detective…further connecting him to Batman who the character always closely was associated with.  It works in this issue, but I’m not sure if it will continue to work to have Moon Knight as a “non-superhero” hero like Hawkeye…I would prefer it.

I do love the art for the comic.  The style of the all-white Moon Knight costume in the dark, dark world created by Ellis in the story is a nice contrast and looks fantastic.  The character needs some sort of stylization to get him to stand out more (much like Hawkeye).

Moon Knight has been written, rewritten, and reworked multiple times and it just never seems to stick.  I hope this version works.  It has gained “second issue” status due to the fact that this issue was interesting enough and I am curious were Ellis (who is sometimes great and sometimes bad) will take the character.

Magneto #1

Publisher:  Marvel Comics

Cover Price:  $3.99

Writer:  Cullen Bunn

Artist:  Gabriel Hernandez Walta

Date:  May 2014

Title:  —

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Magneto #1 Marvel Animals Variant Cover

Magneto is a mutant on a mission.  He’s out to stop those who have preyed on mutants and is killing in the name of his mission.  When Magneto learns a young man has been taken into custody in California, Magneto discovers that the man’s motives might not be his own.

X-Men:  First Class made Magneto cool again (in my opinion).  As a super villain, he always spouted a lot of flower speeches but really was almost always “all talk”.  In First Class you got to see him use his powers to the max as he hunted Nazis.  Here the Nazis are dead, but Bunn has created a similar Magneto who is after those who prey on mutants.

The story is rather simple but enjoyable.  Magneto kills a mutant killer and goes after another mutant killer…only to discover he’s a victim that has been transformed into Sentinel.  The issue feels like set-up for future issues and the simple story might get complex quickly.

I do like the story and it is backed by strong art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta.  Walta does some great stuff with concept of Magneto being a costumed hero and there are some great imagery (like the full page image of Magneto attacking the police station.  His art definitely helps make the book.

Magneto will probably get a second issue.  I don’t love that most of Marvel’s new titles are $3.99, especially for fringe characters like Magneto so the writing will have to keep strong and the art will have to stay tip-top if they hope to keep me reading…if the first issue is a sign, they will.

She-Hulk (5) #7

Publisher:  Marvel Comics

Cover Price:  $2.99

Writer:  Charles Soule

Artist:  Javier Pulido

Date:  May 2014

Title:  “…And?”

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She-Hulk (5) #2

She-Hulk has a problem.  She has her new firm but no clients.  After a day of paperwork, she heads out with her friend Patsy Walker for a night on the town…and that includes trouble with A. I. M.  With bills already mounting, She-Hulk needs a client, and she’s about to get a big one!

I’m loving She-Hulk, but I admit that my loved is clouded with a bias shroud.  I have always been a She-Hulk fan from her serious first series, to the goofy second series, and to the blended third (and fourth) series which this title most resembles.  Soule is creating a great new read in the Marvel Universe that is a must!

The comic is fun.  It is light and fluffy, but still manages to get enough “superheroing” in to be a superhero comic.  Patsy Walker is a perfect edition to the cast in that her old comics were a lot like She-Hulk’s normal life aspect of the story…Soule is doing a weird classic “girl” comic combined with super heroics…I could see She-Hulk struggling to pick out an outfit for half an issue and then battling Galactus the second half, and it would make sense.

In addition to the fun story, Soule has a great artist in Javier Pulido.  I have liked his art for a while and it is nice to see him land on a series with one of my favorite characters.  It all ties into that style that Soule is trying to create and works perfectly.

She-Hulk is a must.  If this team remains, I’ll remain and will continue to enjoy it.  It is also a slightly cheaper comic at $2.99 and that also is a selling point.  Get on the She-Hulk bandwagon now.  I could see her showing up sometime soon in some Marvel movie continuity since she has a long rich history from which to borrow.

Trillium #7

Publisher:  DC Comics/Vertigo

Cover Price:  $2.99

Writer:  Jeff Lemire

Artist:  Jeff Lemire

Date:  May 2014

Title:  “All the Shadows Have Stars in Them…”

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Trillium #7

Time is running out for Nika and William as both of their timelines are beginning to crash.  Drawn to the temple, Nika and William must find a passage through time to each other before it is too late!

Trillium is just a weird comic.  I can’t say it is the most original comic or that it is my favorite comic, but its presentation is 100% original.  Lemire taxes his readers and challenges them to flip, examine, and explore just how to read the book…I have no idea how the collection will work (especially with some of the earlier issues).

In addition to the odd storytelling, Jeff Lemire brings his very stylized art.  It can be a bit jarring to new readers, but there is something charming about the scaled back style.  The visuals he does create in the series do remind me of stuff like Star Wars in scope and presentation.

Trillium is winding down.  It has been a fun run on a strange and different series.  I look forward to the conclusion in the final issue and have enjoyed the comic thus far simply due to the unusual storytelling methods of Lemire.  If you haven’t been reading Trillium, it isn’t a “jump on” type series, but get the back issues or the collection when it is released for a fun ride.

…And here is a BasementRejects “Missed ’Em” section in which I catch up on some of the titles I did not report on in the last few weeks:

Aquaman (5) #28

Publisher:  Marvel Comics

Cover Price:  $2.99

Writer:  Jeff Parker

Artist:  Paul Pelletier

Date:  April 2014

Title:  “Triton”

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Aquaman (5) #28

Aquaman finds he is no longer alone under the sea.  The pursuit of Karaqan’s essence leads Aquaman to Triton Base and learns his underwater kingdom is being challenged.  The challenge of Triton Base will have to wait when Aquaman gets a summons…to his high school reunion.

Written by Jeff Parker and illustrated by Paul Pelletier, Aquaman (5) #28 continues Parker’s takeover of Geoff John’s New 52 title…and this issue brings me some hope.

I was on the verge of cancelling my purchase of Aquaman and was going to struggle through this first arc under Parker…but once again, Aquaman gets a pass after a rather fun issue.

I will say that the title is a bit all over the place in this volume, but it has a sense of fun that Parker’s last two issues have lacked.  I don’t particularly care about the Triton Base or the guy following Aquaman, but the class reunion sequence was great.  It was light, fun and a step out of the heavy-handed Aquaman format that has been going since the relaunch.

Pelletier still continues to be a great choice to do Aquaman though I sometimes wish that artists would figure out a way to do underwater scenes differently…to remind you that you are hundreds of feet underwater.  It could be a good use of computer illustration.

Aquaman (5) #28 is a good purchase and shows hope for the title.  The series needs to get back to trying to incorporate “land life” a bit better (Johns did more of it at the beginning) and remember that Aquaman did spend half his life on it.

Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps:  H.A.R.D. Corps #0

Publisher:  Valiant Comics

Cover Price:  $3.99

Writer:  Christos Gage/Joshua Dysart

Artist:  Valentine De Landro/Joseph Cooerp/John Livesay/ChrisCross/Victor Olazaba

Date:  February 2014

Title:  “Rise and Fall”

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Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps: H.A.R.D. Corps #0

The origin of Project Rising Spirit’s H.A.R.D. Corps is tracked form 1970 Saigon at the height of the Vietnam War to a failed exercise in 1993 against Bloodshot.

I enjoyed Bloodshot, but I find Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps kind of tedious.  H.A.R.D. Corps were generic characters when introduced in the ’90s and they still are generic characters now…no matter how hard they try to make them individuals.  It reminds me a lot of DC’s Challengers of the Unknown…they dress them a like and give them different hair, but they all blur together.

This title works moderately better in that it really isn’t about the H.A.R.D. Corps agents and instead it is about the program.  I do find the “history” aspect of the issue interesting but it still gets clunky in the third act in 1993.

I also like that different artists were brought in to do different decades.  I wish that they had gone the route of Alan Moore’s Supreme and stylized it more with each decade…maybe make the comic look more like a comic from the ’70s, ’80s, and early ’90s for a fun throwback.

Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps unfortunately is getting close to being dumped.  I’m going to stick with it through the crossover with Archer & Armstrong but its future past Mission:  Improbable seems a bit Improbable in my pull collection.

Fantastic Four (4) #1

Publisher:  Marvel Comics

Cover Price:  $3.99

Writer:  James Robinson

Artist:  Leonard Kirk

Date:  April 2014

Title:  “The Fall of the Fantastic Four” Part 1

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Fantastic Four (4) #1 Alex Ross Variant

Sue is looking back on the recent events of the Fantastic Four in a letter to Franklin and Valeria and recalls how a good day led to the end of the Fantastic Four.

Fantastic Four has always been about family.  As presented in this version, new writer James Robinson is presenting a shattered family.  While this is not a new idea, I hope that Robinson can bring some of his classic style to the story.

I had really enjoyed the FF portion of Matt Fraction’s run and was sad to see it ending with yet another relaunch of the Fantastic Four…was a relaunch necessary?  No.  Creative teams take over comics all the time and they don’t need new #1…it feels forced and tired and I wish Marvel would just focus on keeping a comic interesting rather than trying to spawn interest by renumbering it.

Despite this, the story does have potential.  Both Robinson’s writing and Leonard Kirk’s art really capture the essence of the characters, and I hope this story is just a nice four issue run that leads into a better, more unified Fantastic Four that was lacking in the Fraction run…if they’re going to get rid of FF, I want the fun back in Fantastic Four.

Fantastic Four has held the title of “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine” for years and other than the initial run, everyone has strived to live up to this title.  I love Robinson’s sense of history when he approaches comics so hopefully Robinson will try to get back to these roots.

Hawkeye (2) #15

Publisher:  Marvel Comics

Cover Price:  $2.99

Writer:  Matt Fraction

Artist:  David Aja

Date:  April 2014

Title:  “Fun and Games”

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Hawkeye (2) #15

Hawkeye and his brother Barney are facing down the mafia threatening Hawkeye’s home.  As the mafia seeks a loophole to take Hawkeye’s property, Hawkeye could finally have met his match.

Written by Matt Fraction, Hawkeye (2) #15 has the rare (and weird) distinction of being released after Hawkeye (2) #16 due to a publishing problem.  Hawkeye (2) #16 was a Kate Bishop issue and now we get two Hawkeye issues in a row (that’s a plus).

Hawkeye continues to be strong with Fraction’s different writing styles.  I don’t always agree with the jumping around, but I admire his attempts to make the book more than just a simple read.  I do like a challenge and sometimes it is hard to follow Hawkeye’s timeline.

The Aja art is the best Hawkeye art.  I love his style and color and could read page after page of his art.  He is one of those artist that really captures the essence of the writing, simple as it may be, and turns it into something interesting (with great coloring by Matt Hollingsworth).

Hawkeye is one of the best reads out there now.  In addition to a great read, it also has great art so it is a complete package (while still being “cheap” at $2.99).  If you aren’t reading Hawkeye I do recommend it for a superhero story with very little superhero.

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This Week in Comics—February 12, 2014

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This Week in Comics—March 19, 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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