by Aaron Einhorn
Every week Aaron goes to The Laughing Ogre in Columbus, Ohio and spends far more money than his wife would prefer. He then comes back here and writes about the comics he reads that he thought were noteworthy. This isn’t everything he picks up, just the things that he feels merit discussion – either for being really good, or for having something really wrong with them.
What we have here is really several stories coming together. First, we have the ever popular “Figuring out the new Avengers” line-up. And honestly, this is kind of “meh”. It’s inconsistent with what we’ve already seen in Fear Itself with making mention that Thor is gone – when we all know that Thor is Tanarus. Bringing the Vision back came out of left field, and ultimately, failed to resonate. I had honestly lost track of whether he was alive or dead. This is not a good thing.
We also have Quake – whoever she is – investigating the break-out of Norman Osborn from the Raft. Other than establishing that she’s a hard-ass, has no sense of humor, and is a Level 10 Agent despite being twelve (no, not really, but she looks young), I know nothing about her. And I don’t care to.
Throw in a version of Stark who is amazingly flippant considering the past events, and we have a very “meh” issue. I love Bendis when he’s on top of his game, but this issue is not an example of that. The only things that almost save it are some fun quips, and the appearance of Norman Osborn at the end of the issue. But even so, this issue can easily be skipped.
Avengers Academy #22
If one Avengers book fell down on the job this week, at least this title is around to pick up the slack. And pick it up, it does, in glorious fashion. As the staff of the academy investigates the death of Jocasta, Pym brings in the world’s most knowledge master of the electromagnetic spectrum. He’s a member of the X-Men, and Pietro’s father. That’s right – Magneto is coming to Avengers Academy, along with Cyclops’ X-Men.
Whacky hijinks ensue, of course, as bruised egos, massive grudges, and male posturing all exert themselves. And in the crossfire, we get some amazing moments as Tigra and Emma Frost compliment each other’s fashion sense, Hawkeye tries to convince Scott that he’s being mind-controlled by Magneto and the White Queen, Pym tries (and fails) to be reasonable, and Finesse reveals that she has – if not a crush on her mentor – at least an amazing amount of respect for him.
There are also great moments between father and son, and we realize just how flawed both of these men are. For the X-Men fans, we also have some great moments when Pym tries to convince Scott to do cross-school exercises to promote understanding, and Scott shoots him down – but then says that Pym might want to contact Logan’s version of the school.
This book is fun. The action is great. And the characters grown. Without a doubt, this is the book that had me happiest about my choice to purchase it.
Fear Itself #7.3: Iron Man
Remember last week when I told you that Fear Itself #7.3 would further undo whatever moments were used in Fear Itself to make the crossover meaningful? Well, while I was wrong on the details, I was right about the idea. Here, Matt Fraction takes two of the single biggest moments in Fear Itself – Stark’s “sacrifice” to Odin, and the Grey Gargoyle’s devastation of Paris – and undoes them, even as he melts down Stark’s “Mighty”-inspired suit.
This is utter garbage, wrapped in a semi-clever narative structure, that tries to make it appear that Stark is ready to kill the Gargoyle. Even if the Gargoyle is really responsible (and the jury is out on how much the users of the Hammers can be blamed), by having Odin wave his magic wand and restore Paris, the entire issue’s set-up is just a cheap trick.
I am trying, desperately, to think of something to praise here. Salvador Larroca’s art is, at least, acceptable. But I was actually angry as I turned the pages of this comic, and I really wish I could get my money for Fear Itself back. I don’t know who this book is meant to appeal to – whether it’s readers of Iron Man, or fans who might carry over from Fear Itself, but I can’t imagine either set being pleased with this issue. At this point, I really do just wish everything related to this crossover would fade away.
Incredible Hulk #2
There has been a growing idea in the pages of the Hulk lately, all of which center around the idea that the Hulk is the hero, and Banner is really the flawed, disturbed persona. That idea has come to full force in the pages of the new Incredible Hulk, and I am loving it. Our little S.H.I.E.L.D. agent is still trying to recruit the Hulk, and is having no success. It does give us a nice little battle scene, so that’s ok. But the meat of this issue is focused on Banner and the lengths he has gone to to reclaim the big, green monstrosity.
Banner is truly crippled, and deranged. He drives Betty away, yet again, and has thrown him down a route that makes even other mad scientists go “Dude, that might be a bit much.” When we finally get to see the reunion between our two heroes, it can only be assured that it will be messy, and it will make the alliance between man and monster even more uneasy than those we’ve seen in the past.
I cannot wait. Add in the “Island of Doctor Banner,” Hulk-worshipping Moloids, and a Betty who is far more comfortable with her Hulkitude than Bruce ever was, and this is a must-read.
Justice League #3
We’re starting to get somewhere with this title, as Darkseid’s minions attack in full force, and the combined weight of Superman, Green Lantern, Batman and the Flash is thrown at them. With mixed success, but overall, more success than failure. We also finally see Wonder Woman appear in the pages of the book, and this is clearly a Diana who is less comfortable with the world at-large than the one we see in Azzarello’s title. She’s vicious, quick to fight and quick to act, and spoiling for a fight. This, of course, works well with a world that is in the middle of one.
We also finally see Vic Stone transforming into Cyborg, as his father uses illegal, stolen alien tech to save his life. On the one hand, this is kind of cool, and gives us a Cyborg who will be powerful enough to hang with the League. On the other hand, I miss the idea that Cyborg is more home-grown hero, and becoming a cyborg hero in the middle of a crisis is an easier decision than coming to terms with one’s conversion and being a hero anyhow.
The final pages also bring Aquaman in to the league, meaning we are getting close to a full line-up. Aquaman is a cocky jerk, which is an interesting change from the shy Arthur we had in the old universe, but not really all that significant.
The book is coming together, but it’s still unwieldy. It has taken too long to get to the plot, and the fact that this takes place (roughly) five years before the rest of the New 52 titles makes it stick out like a sore thumb. At $3.99, it’s a hard sell – and the fact that you need to spend an extra buck to get the digital copy (while Marvel is giving it away with the Ultimate line and Avenging Spider-Man), and it’s really bitter.
Wonder Woman #3
Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang have kept their promise of giving us a Wonder Woman book that is more horror than superhero, and Zeus bless them for it. While Diana remains as physically powerful as ever, the active interference of the Olympians in this title have firmly moved this comic into Vertigo-esque territory.
After Strife’s attack on the island, we see the Amazons bury their dead (under Strife’s eyes!) as Diana finds out about her parentage. Both Strife and Hermes strive to convince Diana of the importance of the secret, and in the middle of it all, we see how much of an outsider Diana really is – even on Paradise Island.
This book has it all. Great action. Beautiful artwork. Epic storylines. And killer dialogue. It’s a little hard trying to reconcile this Diana with the version we saw in Justice League, but honestly, I like her a lot more. She’s still a heroic figure, but one who understands that not all lives can be saved. And the gods are set up to be her enemy – which is an awesome twist. Here’s hoping Azzarello stays on the book for a long, long time.
Meanwhile, in Birds of Prey #3 the team acquires Poison Ivy as Black Canary becomes a living bomb, Blue Beetle #3 continues Jaime’s origin as we find out more about the local mafia and the scarabs, Captain America #4 sees Steve stuck in the fantasy world as Sharon, Nick and the Falcon try to take down the new HYDRA, DC Universe Presents: Deadman #3 brings Boston Brand face-to-face with the devil as he looks for answers, Fear Itself: The Fearless #3 continues to have Sin and Valkyrie hunt for the hammers in a tale much more interesting than Fear Itself, Green Lantern Corps #3 brings the Corps to the rescue of John and Guy as it is confirmed that the new enemy is using Willpower as a weapon, I, Zombie #19 shows Gwen locked underground as Skip has his first date and a new vigilante appears to hunt down the dead, Supergirl #3 gives us a new character to take the role of Lex Luthor II and lead Supergirl astray, Thunderbolts #165 brings us to the end of the Golden Age Thunderbolts as the team finds a new power source and bounces elsewhere in time, and Ultimate Comics X-Men #3 pits Stryker’s plan in motion as Jimmy meets back up with Kitty, Bobby, Johnny and Rogue.
Thoughts? Disagreements? Want to offer up ideas on what books you’re reading this week? Let us know in the comments!