This Week in Comics—September 25, 2013

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Week 2 of the new feature “This Week in Comics” sees a lighter load this week.  After debate, I have decided to drop Avengers with issue #19 (issue #20 was released this week), due to the increasingly fractured storyline due to the Infinity crossover.  What started out as a fun series which incorporated some different characters has ended up mushy and incoherent with not enough direction (the Ex Nihilo stuff just kept going and going).  Maybe it will end up in a “Bonus Comics” section someday in a future edition.

This week’s comics are:  Aquaman (5) #23.2 (Ocean Master), Batman (2) #23.4 (Bane), FF (2) #12, Guardians of the Galaxy (3) #6, Saga #14, and Bonus Comic:  Harbingers (2) #16

AQUAMAN (5) #23.2

Publisher:  DC Comics

Cover Price: $3.99 (Ocean Master Hologram Cover)

Writer:  Tony Bedard/Geoff Johns

Artist:  Geraldo Borges

Date: November 2013

Title:  “New Fish”

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Aquaman (5) #23.2: Ocean Master

Ocean Master escapes Belle Reve and heads back to his kingdom in the ocean.  As the inmates of Belle Reve ravage the land, Ocean Master must decide if the barrier between being a man and an Atlantean separates him from humanity.

The second “Villains’ Month” tie-in in Aquaman (like Aquaman (5) #23.1 Black Manta) has a heavier tie to Forever Evil than some of the other glut of “Villains’ Month titles.  I stuck with my guns and picked up the hologram cover for the extra dollar because I have to admit that they are rather well done.

I did find both this title and the previous entry of Aquaman a little better than some of the other “Villains’ Month” titles in that the stories are stand alone, but they also felt like they fit in with Geoff Johns’ Aquaman series instead of just being some sort of stand-alone.  This is mostly due to the fact that though Bedard wrote it, Geoff Johns helped script it…I wish more of the titles had followed this path.  It will be interesting to see how Aquaman continues after “Villains’ Month” since the title ended in such a cliffhanger in Aquaman (5) #23.

I kind of liked Ocean Master in this title, but I really wish that Tomasi had pulled the hard punch at the end and had Ocean Master abandon the woman and her child instead of returning to the city.  I know that it would have been rather cold and maybe even a bit uncharacteristic, but he already proved his coldness with the guard earlier in the issue.  I don’t see the character having that much change of heart in the end, and I like it when villains are sometimes just villains…not with a heart of gold.

Geraldo Borges art is also solid.  With the whole “dark” theme of the stories, it is hard to really get a feel for some of the designs and the script isn’t the wordiest of scripts.  It isn’t over-inked, but it is very dark.

Overall, I still continue to be pleased with Aquaman and feel it is one of the best relaunches of the New 52.  Unlike many, I wasn’t an Aquaman hater to begin with…I feel that “weaker” superheroes are often more interesting than the powerhouse like Superman (or even Batman who technically has no powers) because they have to be more innovative and fight more to survive…Much like the Aquaman title which I hope has a long life.

BATMAN #23.4

Publisher:  DC Comics

Cover Price: $3.99 (Bane Hologram Cover)

Writer: Frank Tieri

Artist: Christian Duce

Date: November 2013

Title:  “Bullies”

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Batman #23.4 Bane

Batman is dead according to reports, and now it is time for Bane to make his move to take Gotham.  Travelling from his island home of Santa Prisca, Bane heads toward Gotham but sets his plans in motion by a takeover of Blackgate Prison and vows that Gotham will fall to Bane.

Batman (2) #23.4 is the fourth entry in the “Villains’ Month” title for Batman’s primary title.  The story ties in with the bigger story Forever Evil which is running through all of DC’s titles.  I decided to get the hologram version of this cover which runs for $3.99…but that also is the usual price for the Batman book.

“Events” sometimes bother me and with rising prices of comics, it is a lot to ask of readers to buy four extra titles for a month.  The story in this volume and the previous volumes are almost incidental and could easily be skipped…I do like a good Bane story however and this one is so-so.

I am a bit depressed about the art for this issue.  I want to state that Graham Nolan’s art is good.  I have no problem with it, but it is very standard comic book art.  However, I do love the cover art for this book by Guillem March.  The Batman art on the cover looks fine, but I really like the Bane design and style for it…with a month full of essentially “fill-in” stories, I wish that they had been a bit more experimental with their art and writing.

“Villains’ Month” needs to end, and I think I, like many readers, are war weary.  With so many titles, issues like this Batman really don’t necessitate an extra purchase or leave you wowed.  It might set up some future events for the title, but I think that Snyder probably has a pretty tight wrap on what is going to occur down the line.

FF #12

Publisher:  Marvel Comics

Cover Price: $2.99

Writer: Matt Fraction/Lee Allred/Michael Allred

Artist: Michael Allred

Date: November 2013

Title:  “Mind Mischief”

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FF (2) #12

Scott Lang is still haunted by the death of his daughter Cassie, but learns that Caesar and Maximus might be stirring new hope for the “real” Fantastic Four’s return.  As things start to heat up between Scott and Darla, the students of the Future Foundation try to adjust to their new classmate Adolph Impossible…by explaining to him that his father the Impossible Man is really a villain.

I have to say that FF is one of my favorite Marvel titles right now (probably just behind Hawkeye).  I don’t read the companion Fantastic Four, but I do enjoy the book.  With news that Fraction is leaving, and Allred is in charge, I actually have even more hope since he often brings a humor to his books.

As of now, I can’t tell how much influence the Allreds have.  The book has a completely different tone than many of Fraction’s books, so it might be that they are the primary writers (Lee Allred is listed as the script writer for this issue).  I will say that this isn’t my favorite of the issues and do kind of wish that the title would get moving a bit more.

I love Michael Allred’s art.  It is the primary reason that I picked up the title in the first place (that and I also enjoyed the previous volume of FF).  Allred has that ability to connect with old comic books and new comics at the same time with the throwback Kirby-esque style…I’m just glad that they keep adding interesting characters to this comic for him to draw.

FF is still a must for me.  I worry about fringe titles like this since they aren’t the focus of Marvel and their parent company Disney.  I will keep buying this comic until it runs out or the staff changes completely…I hope others do too.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (3) #6

Publisher:  Marvel Comics

Cover Price: $3.99

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist:  Sara Pichelli/Olivier Coipel

Date: November 2013

Title:  —

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Guardians of the Galaxy (3) #6

The Watcher observes as Gamora, the deadliest woman in the universe, meets her match in Angela on the surface of the moon.  As the Guardians try to deal with the threat of Angela (who seems familiar to all of them), Peter Quill aka Star-Lord finds himself facing off against Thanos…and Thanos has some bad news for Earth.

Guardians of the Galaxy poses a problem for me.  The Guardians are some of my favorite characters, and I have loved them in all their incarnations (though I would kill to see the original team back in some form).  With a movie coming out, Marvel is really hyping the Guardians, but this seems odd since they are a team made up of essentially “the other guys” who never fit on a team.

The problem I have with the current Guardians of the Galaxy is Brian Michael Bendis who has soured me against his writing through years of destroying the Avengers and nonsense crossover that continue to strain the Marvel Universe and turning it from fun to dumb.  Here, I’m reading the Guardians out of duty to the characters but still not loving the story.  The problem is illustrated in this issue which had almost nothing happen.  The Guardians have an issue long fight with Angela (which started last issue) and Peter Quill talked for a few pages to Thanos which in truth revealed little.

The art for Guardians of the Galaxy is quite good.  I think Pinchelli has a nice feel for the characters and has good designs.  The big push for this storyline is the incorporation of Neil Gaimen’s Angela into the Marvel Universe (which began in the Age of Ultron which I didn’t read).  Pinchelli’s Angela is quite good, and I hope the character is explored in a positive way.

With Neil Gaimen serving as a contributor to this series, I hope that it does evolve into something I like more…I will continue to buy the series with hesitation, and I hope that it does start to grow on me (though I’d rather just have Abnett and Lansing back if we’re sticking to this team).

SAGA #14

Publisher:  Image

Cover Price: $2.99

Writer:  Brian K. Vaughan

Artist:  Fiona Staples

Date: September 2013

Title: 

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Saga #14

Alana and Marko find D. Oswald Heist, the author that brought them together in A Nighttime Smoke and their meeting might mean a change in heart for Marko’s mother Klara.  As Marko and Alana try to lay low, The Will considers giving up his life of a bounty hunter for a more relaxing pace, but avenging The Stalk’s death might change things.

I can’t say enough praise for Saga which continues to probably be the best book on the shelves right now…the hard thing is, it is hard to express why it is the best book.  If you sit and describe the basic plot outline of the story, it sounds like a rather ho-hum story of a Romeo & Juliet doomed romance which is very unoriginal.  It however is the unusual touches and dialogue of Brian K. Vaughan which save this story and raise it to something special.

Vaughan doesn’t pull any punches with his dialogue and the comic timing is perfect…even better than his previous successes in Ex Machina and Y:  The Last ManSaga #14 is no different in this sense.  Not much happens in the issue but it is such a pleasure to read that it doesn’t matter…the only thing it does do is leave you wanting more and anxious for the next installment.

Vaughan is assisted by the great art from Fiona Staples who also provides the fantastic palette of colors for the issues.  The art while sometimes seeming two dimensional and flat actually has a lot of depth on closer examination.  It also combines great with Vaughan’s writing style and weirdness (I mean this issue we have what looks like a giant talking ferret as an informant for The Will).

Saga is great and a must for adult readers.  If you aren’t reading Saga, you must and do it quickly.  At $2.99, it is well worth the investment when you consider how little you get from Marvel and DC books that might be charging a dollar more.  Saga is a true quality title.

BONUS “THIS WEEK IN COMICS” COVERAGE!!!

HARBINGER (2) #16

Publisher:  Valiant Comics

Cover Price: $3.99

Writer:  Joshua Dysart

Artist:  Barry Kitson/Mark Pennington/Brian Level

Date:  August 2013

Title:  “Perfect Day”—Part 2

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Harbinger (2) #16

Kris has beaten to death Torque with a skateboard…or has she?  The Renegades find themselves sucked into Torque’s fantasy world of Torquehalla where Torque is king!  The Renegades are transformed into Torque’s fantasy versions, but find other things strange things are happening…and fantasies are coming true.  As Torque works to free his friends from his imagination, the real secret behind the Renegades’ problems are revealed.

Harbinger is probably the meatiest of the Valiant titles and maybe the wordiest.  Dysart writes the comic rather heavy, but this storyline feels a little bit lighter from previous stories.  The problem with this story is that I kind of figured out the basic premise in the first part.

In Harbinger (2) #15, all the Renegades were getting their dreams…Faith was getting Peter, Peter was pleasing everyone, Torque was getting to rock, and Kris and Charlene were having an…interesting time.  Here it is revealed it is all in their mind (as I predicted), but Torquehalla reminds me a lot of Jack Black’s video game Brütal Legend which makes sense.

I do like the art for Harbinger and the trip to Torquehalla provided some fun variety for the artists by allowing them to “dress-up” the Renegades in fantasy costumes…something that feels a bit lighter than some of the previous heavy issues of the series.

Harbinger has been a pretty heavy title since its onset with a lot of bad stuff happening.  Granted, you get Torque beaten to death essentially at the beginning of this issue, but I am enjoying a “lighter” Harbinger.  I’d like to see the Renegades get a break.

Preceded By:

This Week in Comics—September 18, 2013

http://basementrejects.com/latest-news/this-week-in-comics-september-18-2013/

Followed By:

This Week in Comics—October 2, 2013

http://basementrejects.com/latest-news/this-week-in-comics-october-2-2013/

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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