Kidding aside, this week was ridiculous. I didn't think I was ever going to finish the reviews and I don't think I even managed to review every book I bought yet. I'll try to update later tonight with any I missed, but may just have to do a third set of reviews tomorrow at this rate.
I'm just going to let you guys get to the reviews because my hand hurts from typing.
Written by Dan Slott & Christos Gage
Art by Stefano Caselli
This was another solid issue from the Initiative team, but it lacked focus and seemed to have some odd scene changes, like with the Skrull Hank Pym explanations, which felt like retcons to cover up the fact only Bendis probably knew he was a Skrull. While not covered in this issue, I also found it funny that the Pym that was replaced by a Skrull in Civil War was actually a Skrull in the first place.
We find out that this Pym is a complete screw up and that the easiest way to detect Skrulls is to look for people that like strawberries and pickles. I kid you not.
One thing I found amusing was that Triathlon actually had the audacity to make fun of the old 3D Man costume's colour scheme, as if his hideous, multi-coloured monstrosity was actually better. In the end, he took the goggles from the costume, which he received as a gift from the retired 3D Man.
Turns out Triathlon received the cushiest job in the Initiative as the new leader of the Hawaii team and, after some quick introductions to some interesting characters, of which I can't tell if any are pre-existing characters or not, we find out that the goggles, they do nothing! Er, I mean, they do something. As in they let the wearer see who is and isn't a Skrull and he quickly sees that one of his recruits is a Skrull, who they eventually manage to take down with a well placed sword through the head.
Verdict - Check It. I'm a little annoyed that these goggles can detect the Skrulls so easily while Spider-Man's spider-sense, Wolverine's overpowered senses, telepaths and even the sorceror supreme of the entire freaking universe can't tell who is or isn't a Skrull. Otherwise, the issue was another good outing from what I'd consider the best Avengers title on the stands.
Written by Ed Brubaker & Greg Rucka
Art by Michael Lark
This arc seems to be addressing every problem that has been levied against Brubaker's erratic run since taking over the book as it is jam packed with story, continues to build on the intriguing murder mystery plot and doesn't spend half an issue dragging Matt's life through the dirt or dwelling on how much crap he's been through.
While there's still very little Daredevil in this story, it does feature some great Matt Murdock moments as he starts reclaiming his life by having him interact with old friends, like Luke Cage, Dakota and even Ben Urich.
I especially liked the spotlight on Dakota this issue as she gets revenge on her attacker from last issue and still has some time to trash talk with Luke Cage and rip Matt a bit over his return to his Matt Murdock persona after a few months of brooding as Daredevil.
Verdict - Must Read. I'm not usually one to get sucked into these murder mystery trials, as they are typically just twist endings or that random clue right at the end to turn the tide, but Rucka and Brubaker are doing a great job of fleshing this out while still finding time to focus on the characters.
IMMORTAL IRON FIST #16
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by David Aja
This marks the last issue of the Brubaker / Fraction / Aja era on Iron Fist. Good night, sweet prince. I'll miss you as this also marks my last issue based on the previews for the next issue and the knowledge of who the writer will be.
Thankfully, this is amazing send off from Fraction and he sets up so many possibilities for the character that it's really a shame that neither he nor Brubaker could stick around to write this book. I still think it's some money related thing where the sales don't justify the creative team, especially based on everything Fraction has ever said about the book and his desire to write it forever or even a second book for a Tales of the Iron Fist-type spinoff, but I'll save my moaning and conspiracy theories for another time.
Coming off the recent tournament arc where Hydra assumed control of his company's resources and nearly destroyed K'un-Lun, Danny has reprioritized his life and the focus of his vast fortune. He's gone so far as to dismantle his company, piece by piece, and is dedicating his life to giving away his entire fortune to the needy and is in the process of creating a charity organization.
We start the issue off with his most recent endeavour - the creation of a new dojo for impoverished children - and quickly cut to where he explains his new direction in life to his friend and the man that formerly ran Danny's company, Jeryn Hogarth. There's a hilarious scene where they are in an elevator and Jeryn asks if Danny's been funding the New Avengers where Danny tries to deny it before admitting to it.
From there, we get to see the other Immortal Weapons and their search for information on the rumoured Eigth Capital City. This is a great scene as everyone is in civilian clothes. Fat Cobra is wearing a shirt and tie with glasses and is actually acting like an intellectual, which was a funny juxtaposition to his, "bring me my victory wenches!", persona during the tournament.
The rest of the issue focuses on Danny's relationship with Misty Knight that leaves it open ended and with his friendship with Luke Cage and his asking him to join him with his new charity in their old Heroes 4 Hire building. The latter scene featured a cameo by Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker, which was a nice touch. There were two others in that close up cameo, but I'm not sure what Aja looks like, so can't tell if he is one of them.
We end one of the best creative team runs in recent memory with Danny discovering that all Iron Fists have died at the age of 33 and only Orson had escaped that fate when he fled K'un-Lun at the age of 33. Just as he comes to this realization, Misty, Luke and Colleen show up with a surprise birthday party and a cake for his 33rd birthday as the issue fades to black.
Verdict - Must Read. This creative team made me read a comic about a guy who does kung-fu in a pair yellow slippers and it was awesome, that's how damn good they were. With how much they set up in this issue, I can't believe they're actually leaving the title, but I guess all good things come to an end.
MARVEL 1985 #2
Written by Mark Millar
Art by Tommy Lee Edwards
Millar and Edwards are doing an excellent job of straddling the line between fantasy and reality with this 'villains enter our world' story and this issue quickly ramps up the pace as we see a beautifully rendered fight, right off the bat, between the Hulk and Juggernaut.
Millar's writing for the little boy is excellent and manages to distill the sense of awe and wonder to the reader over these two comic book characters come to life right in front of his eyes and battling it out.
Obviously, no one believes the child, not even his father, but it does promp the father to go visit the mysterious and much hyped Wyncham character, who is being kept in a mental ward or hospital and cannot speak or move. The villains are staying in his vacant home, for reference.
The boy begins wondering if he imagined the whole thing or if it was real, but, before he can decide either way, the villains make his choice for him as they begin attacking the small town.
Verdict - Must Read. I find it very easy to relate the main character, through which we see the events of this story, and Millar is doing an incredible job of relaying the thoughts and feelings of the young boy. Edwards art is a perfect fit for this style of book and the fight with Hulk and Juggernaut is something to behold.
MIGHTY AVENGERS #15
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Khoi Pham
Hank Pym is a screw up. The Skrulls know it, you know it and everyone on Earth knows it. Even the Skrulls took the time to question why the hell they would replace him and this issue shows exactly when they did it, showcasing just how much Bendis dislikes this character.
Basically, Pym treats Janet like crap, she leaves him, he hooks up with a college girl, tells her everything about his life and she turns out to be a Skrull, who captures and replaces Pym. Shocking, I know. This is all between Disassembled and the formation of the New Avengers team, for those curious.
It does contradict a lot of stuff, such as moments when Pym has been shown to be thinking like Pym with no hint of Skrull and other times he's shown as thinking like a Skrull, which makes it hard to wonder why psychics can't figure this out in 5 seconds flat.
Finally, this "explains" how they took down Iron Man by having Pym explain to the Skrulls how Fem-Ultron discovered the weakness to Starktech and his Extremis powers, which lead to them creating an organic virus that shut down all the computers on Earth. Riggghhhttt.
Verdict - Avoid It. While the New Avengers issue was at least an enjoyable enough read if you checked your brain at the door or ignored the numerous mistakes, this Mighty issue features more Bendis hate on Hank Pym and treats the founding Avenger like a joke, similar almost to his Ultimates incarnation, and just makes the whole Skrull mess more annoying. All that was needed was to say he was replaced after House of M and before New Avengers. We didn't need any of the other padding on this issue.
Written by Joss Whedon
Art by Michael Ryan
Much like my glee over Kirkman's days on Ultimate X-Men being over, I can finally look forward to actual good issues of Runaways again, assuming Whedon's horrible, delay ladden run hasn't killed all fan interest in the relatively low selling, niche series.
This issue wrapped up the whole time travel plot. Not sure what happened, honestly. The winged guy flies the bomb into the air, it explodes without really doing any damage and there's a brawl still going on between the random super powered people, all of whom I have long since forgotten about.
From there, Nico shows up (not sure if it was even shown how or if she escaped since it's been so long since the last issue), the team leaves with the red head dancer in tow, run into Gert's time travelling parents, Chase shows up from the future where he did...stuff...and they all head back to the future.
However, because no one demanded it, the red head stays behind and the little girl that was married to some pedophile joins the team and goes back to the future with them as the new member.
And, to wrap up the random old lady plot from a year or two ago, back when this story began, she's revealed as the red head dancing girl Vic loved and she cries over how she didn't come to the future with him.
Verdict - Avoid It. Go back to Buffy, Whedon, and never touch the Runaways again. PLEASE.
SECRET INVASION: RUNAWAYS / YOUNG AVENGERS #1
Written by Christopher Yost
Art by Takeshi Miyazawa
This should have been titled Secret Invasion: Runaways with a little blurb about guest starring the Young Avengers. It's told entirely from the Runaways perspective, we get some great dialogue from the team and Miyazawa's art, if you're a fan of that style, is terrific (well, his Young Avengers were a little iffy, but everything else was great).
The issue picks up right where Runaways #30 left off with the team back in New York after their trip back in time. The little girl from the past has some funny, "oh, the future is so weird", moments and the team had some fun dialogue, especially Xavin's "rule the world" speech.
After the brief introduction to the Runaways team, we see the actual Skrull invasion begin and Xavin quickly turns on the team as the other Skrulls show up. It's all a ruse on his part, although his teammates didn't know this, as he knows exactly who these Skrulls are and what they would have done to the Runaways if they had fought back.
He talks it over with a couple of invading Skrulls and then takes his "captives" away from the battle. We see a bit of the Young Avengers battle from the main Secret Invasion book repeated here, but it's only a brief scene and nothing noteworthy.
Xavin has a little misunderstanding with Nico and Victor when they wake up, but it's eventually smoothed over as he explains himself and we find out some information on the Skrulls leading the invasion and how they are merely a overly zealous religious faction and this isn't as unified an invasion as we had imagined.
Xavin ended up staying behind as the rest of the Runaways fled in their ship. He ends up saving Hulkling, a half Skrull / Kree and prince of the Skrull Empire, from some of the invading Skrulls who have orders to terminate Hulkling on sight so that his heritage won't lead to any mutiny in the invading armada.
Verdict - Must Read. It was fun, gave us some great Runaways moments, added more to the Secret Invasion plot than every Bendis written tie-in so far and was just a joy to read. I just hope the Young Avengers get a little more spoltight in future issues.
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #123
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Stuart Immonen
I'm not sure what to think of this issue. Is it a recap? I don't remember the story Eddie Brock is telling. Is it from the Ultimate Spider-Man game from way back when? If so, it was a jumble of random images with a long winded monologue from Eddie and not the most effective way to kick this story off.
I'm just confused as to the reasoning behind telling it this way. Eddie Brock sits on a park bench and tells a story about how he got his powers, hates Peter Parker / Spider-Man, got in a fight with Silver Sable and her mercenaries, how he fought Spider-Man in a museum and then eats some guy at the end (he may have eaten more people, as the people listening to his story kept changing, but it only showed one confirmed kill).
That's all that happened and it was kind of boring reading endless walls of text in every panel. During the brief museum fight with Spider-Man, which ended with Silver Sable showing up and shooting them as the panel faded to black, Peter kept complaining about a headache, but I have no idea what's wrong with him or what caused it.
Verdict - Avoid It. I love Ultimate Spider-Man and don't really regret buying this issue, but no one will be missing anything if they skip this issue and, if I had it over again / wasn't obsessive compulsive "don't ruin my comic run" nerd, I probably wouldn't buy this issue.
YOUNG AVENGERS PRESENTS: HAWKEYE #6
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Alan Davis
This! This is what these Young Avengers Presents one-shots should have been like! This issue was absolutely amazing and Marvel needs to tell Heinberg to go back to television and give Fraction a Young Avengers on-going because this is an absolute Must Read issue.
It had it all - character development, passing of the torch moments with Hawkeye and Ronin, the entire Young Avengers team featured and acting like a group and managed to still keep the focus on Hawkeye. It was like the perfect team book member spotlight issue and one of the best issues I read this week.
To open up, we had Hawkeye and Patriot on a date, but Hawkeye's stubborn personality causing friction and her not wanting to call this an actual "date" that ended up causing a big fight between the two.
Before anything could happen, though, Ronin, aka the former Hawkeye, Clint Barton, reveals himself as the horse driven carriage driver and quickly knocks out Patriot while he toys with Hawkeye, obviously testing her. There's some fun dialogue and Ronin gives her an invitation to come alone to see him the next night at the New Avengers' hideout.
When she arrives at their base the next night, there's a great scene with Spider-Man and Luke Cage playing Gears of War and Luke screaming, "Chainsaw! Chainsaw! Chainsaw!", as Spidey moans, "I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!". The scene was repeated later with Patriot and Hulkling doing the same thing back at the Young Avengers base near the end of the issue.
The confrontation with Clint eventually leads to Hawkeye losing her (well, technically it's Clint's) bow and the name Hawkeye to Ronin in a simple bet and it leads to a funny Hawkingbird joke, referencing her original codename and costume from the Young Avengers series.
To keep this short, there's some fun team interplay with them finding out she lost her name and bow and some more conflict with Patriot that has Hawkeye rushing off with Speed, who eventually talks her in to stealing her bow back while the Avengers are off on a mission.
They recover the bow, Ronin gives Hawkeye a nice pep talk and his approval and, in the end, she patches things up with Patriot, simply asking him to give her time to come to terms with herself.
Verdict - Must Read. Like I said, it has everything a Young Avengers or any comic fan would want in a book with great writing, beautiful art and lots of character moments.