DARK AVENGERS #3
Written by Brian Bendis
Art by Mike Deodato
Dark Avengers #3 is starting show cracks around the edges as Bendis falls back into his familiar writing patterns.
This is most apparent in the forced and contrived Norman Osborn-led therapy session with the Sentry, whereby were given a flashback to where Osborn convinces the Sentry to join his Dark Avengers. How does he do this? By telling Sentry that they are both the same (aka nut jobs) and that Void isn't real before taking him out for some hamburgers. No, I didn't make the hamburger part up.
Dialogue is usually one of Bendis' strong points, at least when he can stay away from the 'Bendis-speak', and the therapy scene did have some decent dialogue. However, I just can't buy anyone believing a word that comes out of Norman Osborn's mouth and the fact that everyone and their mother has known the Sentry was off his rocker and have tried convincing him that the Sentry isn't real. To honestly expect me to believe a five minute chat with Osborn and being told you're the same as the Green Goblin is supposed to make Sentry all better and to fall in line with what Osborn's selling is just insulting as a reader.
Aside from the Sentry pyschobabble, we were treated to a protracted and drawn out fight sequence with Morgana and the Dark Avenger team where nothing new was really offered to the reader. It was drawn incredibly well and Deodoto should be commended for the job he's done, but there was nothing really brought to the table storywise here and it felt like we were just biding our time and padding out the story for the trade as opposed to actually continuing our fight.
In the end, the only thing we were shown was Osborn basically forcing the immobilized Dr Doom to give up access to his armour's technology so they could travel back in time to stop Morgana at her source in the past. Why didn't Doom just do this from the start?
Verdict - Check It. Despite the negative tone of the review, I didn't hate this issue and it was still much better than any of Bendis' recent New Avengers work. I was just disappointed that he's fallen back into his NA writing patterns when he had been doing something unique, for a change, with the Dark Avengers.
Written by Sterling Gates
Art by Jamal Igle and Keith Champagne
Actually ended up picking this book up after giving it a flip through on the shelf today and was glad I did. I had never been much of a Supergirl fan and still can't stand the costume DC has her sporting, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this issue.
While I had not been reading this series, I was given the liberty, thanks to my excessive reading habits, to skim through just about anything at my shop with little fear of outrage or retaliation from the proprietors of said establishment, giving me free reign to 'Byrne' most issues that catch my fancy. As such, I had been following along with this "Who is Superwoman?" storyarc and knew about the whole situation with Reactron going in.
As I had speculated in last month's Moments of the Week, where we saw Reactron blasting Superwoman with his gold kryptonite beams, it was actually revealed that Superwoman was wearing a special suit to block out the radiation, much like how she has a lead plated mask to stop Supergirl from seeing who she is under it. As such, she's back on the Kryptonian watchlist. The bad news about this mystery is that Supergirl's and my only suspects for who she actually is was thrown out the window with last week's reveal that Flamebird was Supergirl's Kryptonian friend, Thara Ak-Var. As I haven't been following the book very closely (mostly skimming) up until now, I have no idea if there have been other clues to Superwoman's identity and there didn't seem to be any dropped her either.
The majority of this issue was actually spent dealing with the Superwoman and Reactron situation, which was actually a mission from General Lane for Superwoman to bring Reactron back to base and kill his former girlfriend to tie up any loose ends. Once completed, the duo were then teamed up and told to take down Supergirl, which was a fight promised for next month.
The remainder of the issue dealt with supporting cast and Supergirl's personal life, which, to be honest, wasn't nearly as entertaining for someone just jumping into the book as the Superwoman/Reactron bits. However, the parts with Supergirl communicating with her mother were solid and the emotions conveyed were strong from both the writing and art standpoints.
Verdict - Check It. Sterling Gates has done an impossible job of actually making me like a Supergirl comic, which will probably lead me to picking up some back issues of his short run and continuing with it for the time being. While not an absolute Must Read comic, entertaining and a solid pick if you are enjoying the current World Without Superman event.
Written by Andy Diggle
Art by Bong Dazo
Where I decided to pick up Supergirl this week, I officially dropped Thunderbolts, at least for the duration of this Deadpool crapshoot. As such, this isn't so much a review as a declaration of intent.
For those curious as to why I dropped it, the first part of the Deadpool crossover was absolutely terrible and failed to be serious nor comical and I wasn't even sure which part of the spectrum they were shooting for after reading it, making the read that much more painful.
This issue of Thunderbolts, from what I read, continued the trend and it felt like Diggle was forced to sideline any and all of the progress he had been making with the series and the new team since he took over a few short months ago. I think he did a better job with Deadpool than Way did in the first part of the story, but that's not saying much either.
Finally, the switch in artists, going from a gritty, pseudo-realism style to something more in line with what Deadpool's had works from a consistency standpoint, but only serves to undermine everything the Thunderbolts were about and accentuates the absurdity of this crossover, further undermining everything Diggle had been building.
Verdict - Dropped. Not sure what Marvel was trying to accomplish by forcing this crossover between the two titles. If it was to get people to pick up both titles or increase sales in general, they've failed miserably and only managed to lose a customer on one of the titles. Not even sure if I'll bother coming back in two or three months time when this is all over and done with.
Written by Mark Millar
Art by Steve McNiven
While I enjoyed this issue, it felt very disjoint and it was almost as if we took a big jump from the buildup stage of our story to the climax, sort of like we went from A to D in one go.
For instance, this issue started with Logan and Hawkeye being chased by a Venom symbiote controlled T-Rex, beautifully rendered by Steve McNiven. It was the typical exciting and 'widescreen movie' scene writing Millar often employs and worked extremely well in the whole 'cross country tour' we've been following up until now.
From here, Black Bolt shows up, kills the T-Rex, our heroes get teleported to Emma Frost's home, we find out Black Bolt is basically her lackey and there's some back and forth chatter between Emma and our dynamic duo before they get sent off on their merry little way. Kind of interesting, but I couldn't figure out what if there was even a point to the whole thing or not.
Continuing after their chat with Emma, the duo trek across the country and proceed to the final delivery location of their mystery package, which turned out to be a large batch of a modified Super Solider formula that was supposed to go towards creating a new team of Avengers to take back the world since the villains had grown old and complacent after seizing power. From here, the buyers of the product reveal themselves as government agents and promptly kill Hawkeye and pump Logan full of bullets, ending the issue and our heroes' journey.
As I said, this all happens so fast and none of the scenes really connected in any meaningful way to get us to this point in the story. While I did enjoy the issue, primarily on the strength of McNiven's art and my love of alternate futures, it just felt like someone told Millar it was time to finish his story and he tacked on this bit about a new Avenger team and Super Soldier formula shipment to get us to the finish line without properly setting up the events.
Verdict - Check It. While I was a little put off by the pace and jarring sequence of events in this issue, I don't think anyone that has been following the storyline will be disappointed with the purchase and I'm sure Logan is at his breaking point after the final pages of this issue, promising lots of action to finish out this story in the coming issues.
Written by Peter David
Art by Valentine de Landro
In keeping with Peter David's wishes, all I'm going to say about this issue is that 'stuff happens'.
Verdict - Check It. There would be more, that would be spoiling things.
Okay, okay, I'm not that anal about these things and spoilers are kind of my speciality, so PAD be damned. This issue picks up with the huge reveal from last issue that Layla Miller is alive and still knows stuff. The dumbfounded Madrox is beside himself (No, not with dupes, just a turn of phrase. Actually, the priest dupe is on the floor, but I'm getting way off point now, so let me continue already!) at the site of the grown up Layla, but isn't given much time to get his bearings as Layla reveals she's simply a hard light construct sent back in time and that she's there to bring him to the future with her, which we last saw in the Layla Miller special.
Surprisingly, David decides not to give us too much information on this storyline and we only get a brief glimpse of the future where we see that Layla has teamed up with Ruby Summers post-Summers Rebellion and I assume we'll be seeing more of her in the future. Uh, our future, not their future. Well, technically, their future, but they're in that timeline, so it becomes their present, but is still the future. I give up. Goddamn time travel.
Even more surprising than the relatively small amount of Madrox/Layla face time we were given after that big reveal from last issue is how enjoyable reading about the rest of the cast of X-Factor was this issue. The team hasn't been this interesting since well before Messiah Complex and it's like a mini-renaissance for the X-Factor title and, hopefully, a sign that things are finally getting back on track for a book that hasn't been this good in over a year or more worth of issue.
Verdict - Check It. Tempted to give it a Must Read, but don't want to get too far ahead of myself. While I was pleased with the other cast member's portrayals, I wish we had been given a little more Layla time and explanation behind the return to the future for Madrox, as that's the main reason I came back to the title. However, if PAD can keep this pace up, I can see this title returning to it's Must Read status very quickly.
Written by Chris Yost & Craig Kyle
Art by Clayton Crain
What was probably one of the stronger recent X-Force issues ends up being my last on the title for a while as Yost & Kyle shift focus to the upcoming Messiah War event. Surprisingly, I don't find myself upset or even caring in the slightest that I'll be dropping the title as I've been left cold and apathetic towards the title, much like the very characters and events contained therein.
Much like last issue, the star of this issue is, sadly, the Leper Queen. In my eyes, she's had more development and been a much more sympathetic character than our "heroes", which is rather pathetic when you think about it. The Leper Queen is a rascist bigot that has killed hundreds of mutants and her inner monologue and reasonings behind her actions makes me care more about her than anything Wolverine's forced justifications for his own actions in his own thought boxes this issue conveyed.
The Leper Queen is a character that believes in her convictions and purpose and cannot abide by the living bondage she has found herself in through her servitude to Bastion. As Bastion will not allow her to kill herself and seeing no other way to free herself, Leper Queen has opted to take Boom Boom hostage and force the X-Force team to kill her.
The problem with this plan is that Cyclops, in his infinite douchebaggery, has decided that it's more important to chase after his own son, Cable, and wants to use X-Force to recover the 'messiah baby' by any means necessary. Cyclops had commissioned time travel devices from Beast last issue and has told X-Force that as soon as they are ready, they will be leaving for the future, regardless of what else was going on. Yes, he doesn't care who lives or die and the time travel physics of how someone in the future won't be there regardless of how long they wait doesn't seem to make sense anyway you wrap your head around it, so friends and fellow mutants get to die because Cyclops wants to save mutants by, uh, letting them die? Makes sense to me!
As you can probably guess, this time travel plot led to a standoff with Leper Queen and her hostage, Boom Boom. Queen simply wants them to save Boom Boom and kill her in the process. As Wolverine is ordering the kill, Cyclops initiates the time jump, warping the X-Force team away and leaving Boom Boom to die at the hands of the Bastion controlled Leaper Queen, who can only curse her own fate. It's a touching scene and the only problem I have with it is that it's the goddamn villain I have to care about since everyone else is so devoid of the most basic emotions and practically revel in their killing ways.
Verdict - Check It. While one of the strongest issues of X-Force, to date, I'm officially done with the title going forward as I just can't connect with any characters or the supposed "heroes" we've been following.