|Each well drawn and written six page exploitation is cheeky SciFi spliced with 20th century history tropes.|
|Abe Sapien #12 The Garden||+||+||+||+||/||A-|
|Hypnotizing southern gothic narrating us through the apcalyptic end times with an art style just as foreboding.|
|Action Comics #31||/||+||+||+||/||B|
|Interesting duality between Superman and Doomsday and the morality of having blind faith in Superman.|
|After Life with Archie #05||+||+||+||+||+||A|
|We’ve left our life in Riverdale and there’s none better to lead us away than Francavilla & Sacasa|
|All New Ghost Rider #03||+||–||–||–||/||D-|
|Beautiful action can’t rescue the bogged down pacing from the superfluous and pointless word balloons.|
|All New Ultimates #02||+||+||+||–||+||B|
|Despite half the book being an action scene, Ultimates proves we can still have intrigue and character development.|
|All New X Men #27||+||+||+||/||/||B|
|Although we’re attacking the base again with excessive double page spreads, it still feels fresh and captivating.|
|Amelia Cole & The Enemy Unleashed||/||/||/||+||/||C|
|Slap & paste plot made it difficult to follow Amelia and her comrades.|
|Americas Army FCBD||+||–||–||–||–||F|
|Half the comic is a debriefing the other half was a reused issue while both lacked action.|
|Archer Coe & 1000 Natural Shocks 10 & 11||+||+||+||+||/||A-|
|The pacing was smooth and each plot reveal and character development enhanced the mystery|
|Suspending belief is rewarded with a fun romp through 50’s culture and Sci-Fi with some dashes of modern irony|
|Ash & the Army of Darkness 07||+||–||/||/||/||C-|
|Plot adds some to Ash’s past but it felt just as much of a throw away as this issue.|
|Astro City 12||+||+||+||+||+||A|
|Wow, this was an excellent reminder of why we love stories about villains.|
|Atomic Robo & Friends FCBD||+||/||+||+||/||B|
|A quirky and fun Sunday Comic Strip style story|
|A gripping Illuminati story which divides the pious Captain and the amoral Iron Man|
|Avengers Undercover 04||+||–||+||+||+||A-|
|Repercussions from killing Arcade is used to unveil human natures and individual identities.|
|Creepy action from rag doll wasn’t able to overshadow the awful melodrama|
|Bloodshot & Hard Corps||+||+||+||/||/||B|
|Surprising twists turns the issue into a captivating techno thriller when Bloodshot goes rogue.|
|Captain America 20||+||/||–||–||+||C-|
|There’s some novelty with the Dream within a Dream trope otherwise it severely lacked any development|
|Captain Marvel 03||+||+||–||+||+||B|
|Complex cast and a dynamic plot that wonderfully balanced human emotion with a cosmic adventure.|
|Clive Barker’s Next Testament 09||/||+||+||+||/||B|
|God moves in psychopathic ways and ends up being challenged by his chosen heralds.|
|Great artwork but the story had some tonal inconsistencies|
|Deadly Hands of Kung Fu||+||–||–||–||/||D-|
|Great Kung Fu action couldn kick the awfully unoriginal story and characters into shape.|
|Because of some Pokemon drop outs and Deadpool’s extravagance, the honeymoon turns into a fun and hot pursuit|
|Deadpool vs Carnage 03||+||–||+||/||+||B-|
|Instead of just grinding out the death toll the creative splatter and humor keep it from being monotonous.|
|Because the pacing is too quick for the deceit to sink in, the protagonist seem to have precognition or omniscience|
|Uncle Scrooge & Donald Duck FCBD||+||+||+||+||+||A|
|A great FCBD double whammy which has smart and memorable laughs|
|another bored and cliché millennial using superheroics as a form of escapism|
|Plenty of metafictional humor and irony to keep flipping the pages|
|Les Miserables Fall of Fantine||+||/||+||/||+||B|
|Magna art style compliments Fantines emotional tragedy|
|Federal Bureau of Physics 10||+||+||+||+||+||A|
|Great character development which twists around reality warping machines and spooks|
|Gravel combat Magician 04||+||–||–||–||/||D-|
|Bloody awful english stereotype offensively gets in the way of his own story.|
|Green Lantern Corps 31||+||/||/||/||+||B-|
|The pacing from the breakout and riot let’s the desperation and gravity slip through its fingers|
|Grimm Fairy Tales Annual 2014||/||/||+||/||/||C|
|The story and artwork were bland and lacked any fantastical elements that make this series shine.|
|Robyn Hood Vol 3.4||/||/||+||+||/||B-|
|Rich with needed character development from introspection and plot twists|
|The Dark One||+||+||+||–||/||B-|
|A god and mortal romance which twists various Fairy tales and religious mythology together.|
|Hellboy In Hell 06||+||+||+||+||+||A|
|Art & writing create a world full of myths, characters, and humor which prompt to be reread multiple times|
|Iron Man 25||+||+||+||/||+||A-|
|A well pace and excellent beat down which put the fear back into Malekithe|
|Action cop with squid arms shoots ghosts and zebra people. Why not?|
|A counterproductive finale and sexist artwork finish off a story about sex trafficing.|
|Campy but creative fight sequences emerge while fighting the dark judges|
|Justice League United 01||+||/||+||+||+||A-|
|An alien super baby with three tentacle nipples & other unexpected surprises from this cheeky group|
|This tale has been wrapped up with a nice little bow on top. Hope to see them next fall.|
|Minimum Wage 05||+||+||+||+||+||A|
|Our favorite everyday man is getting back in the saddle while facing ultra relatable insecurities & awkward situations.|
|Miss Fury 11||+||+||+||+||+||A|
|A self contained time stepping and mind bending adventure of what makes Miss Fury tick|
|New Avengers 18||+||+||+||+||+||A|
|Illuminati weight the moral consequences of saving their own universe by destroying other universes and fighting superheros.|
|Go exploring in Kurt & Amanda’s past before tripping in some major plot holes.|
|Quantum & Woody 10||+||+||+||+||+||A|
|Another clever adventure of Woody bumbling and sucker punching his way through dating, robbing, and being an awful brother.|
|Secret Avengers 03||+||+||+||+||+||A|
|Ales Kot finally delivers a twisted and fun brain hemorrhage which Kot is know for.|
|United States of Murder Inc||+||/||/||+||+||B|
|What if the mafia won alt history with just enough character development and plot to hook us in.|
|This is an electrifying and witty fun ride.|
STORY BY Brian Michael Bendis
ART BY Michael Avon Oeming
COLORS BY Nick Filardi
LETTERS BY Chris Eliopoulos
It’s part welcome back partner part crime involving kidnapping women. We are quickly reintroduced to Power’s veterans Deena Pilgrim and Christian Walker before Bendis throws us into batshit crazy hijinks that makeup the Power’s world. Bendis seems to always shine the most when he is able to cleverly take familiar and ridiculous themes from popculture or other lore and twist them into a different direction. This story arc is no different. We discover that someone is knocking up women, and sometimes men too, with power super sperm which forces them to incubate a kryptonite infused xenomorph which births like one can imagine. Yep, if you’re thinking WTF?, you are a normal human being. However, that’s part of the writing style Power’s readers love about this series.
Powers is a great companion to the super hero world because Bendis builds its foundation and humor off of asking what it would be like to live in a world of superheros. However, this isn’t a nihilistic Moorian take. Instead Bendis will ask questions like,”Would Superhero Groupies buy Power’s Sperm off the Black Market so they can have Power babies?”, or “Can undercover cops exist in a world with psychics?”.
Furthermore, the readers couldn’t ask for better characters to guide us through this world. Each panel gushes with humor because of the Agent Pilgrim’s foul mouthed quips and Agent Walker’s stonefront sarcastic retorts. Their banter combined with Pilgrim’s neurotic personality and Agent Walker’s sordid Power’s backstory fleshes out their dynamic personalities, and it’s a consistent pleasure to see how the agents will handle each new situation.
Because Oeming’s minimalist art style has flourishes like deep shadows and sharp and defined lines which creates a noir tonality, it perfectly compliments the crime procedural theme. The style could be compared to Batman: TAS with the coloring opting for gold rather than blue tones. Also, Oeming’s artwork is also just as over the top as the plot. Each fight scene is godly and brutal, each power ability is eery and luminescent.
There’s never a dull moment in this series. Each twist or new plot point will make any comic book lover smile and soak in the gritty behind the scenes take on living in a powers world. If the reader isn’t laughing at the human element, they are mesmerized by the incredible action from the Powers.
|Original Sin #01||+||–||–||+||/||C-|
|Great artwork doesn’t compensate for the unfocused roll call story.|
|Beautiful Cyber Punk Dystopia told from relatable narrators.|
|Southern Bastards #01||+||–||+||–||+||C|
|Southern Style is Tasty but the brewing story ain’t refreshing.|
|New 52 Future’s End #01||/||–||–||–||+||D-|
|If not for Firestorm & Grifter holding it together, Future’s End would be a monotonous mess.|
|The Wake #08||+||+||+||+||+||A|
|The Wake pulls you into the deep depths of it’s world and never lets you go.|
|Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #01||+||+||+||/||+||A-|
|A poetic narrative & burning art style about balancing on the razor’s edge|
|Grindhouse Doors Open at Midnight #08||+||–||+||+||+||B|
|Grindhouse is as septic & sloppy as a stripper’s dollar bill with undying novelty|
|Nemo: The Rose of Berlin||+||+||+||–||–||B|
|Effortlessly weaves together Nazi’s & German Expressionism with needless hot splashes of T&A|
|Powers The Bureau #09||+||+||+||+||+||A|
|This time Powers does a tongue in cheek commentary on groups like New Mutants|
|Batman Eternal #05||+||–||–||/||+||C-|
|Batgirl always screaming the obvious was obnoxious. We know already move on|
STORY BY Rick Remender
ART BY Matteo Scalera
COLORS BY Dean White
Black Science is a genre redefining science fiction epic. Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera take us on a reality hoping adventure with a team of flawed ego-maniacal scientists. They’ve just finished building “The Pillar” which allows people to travel to alternate dimensions. They describe it like an onion, the Pillar slides them down through layers of reality to presumably arrive at the core and foundation to all realities. Nevertheless, all is not well since the Pillar had been sabotaged and is constantly jumping the team from one hostile dimension to the next.
Although each jump usually leads the team to a more desperate location, to stay behind will inevitably forfeit their chances of ever going home. With the diminishing crew dying off, even if they choose to carry on who knows how long until it leads to their ultimate destruction. Meanwhile, there’s the chance the Pillar itself is cracking through realities and making all of existence unstable.
Unlike other similar stories such as Fantastic Four, Lost in Space, or Sliders, Remender always puts the danger in the foreground. The peril and doom is just as prominent as any character whether it’s coming from sources such as Frog Warriors, possessed primates, or getting caught in a genocide war or much more. It also serves as the primary motivation for Grant and the team to get everyone back to their own reality. If that wasn’t enough, there’s constant inner-group conflict revolving around power struggles and trust.
As the story progresses, we discover that the team has just as many layers as an Onion. In many stories a character like Grant would be the hero or all round good guy; however, Remender doesn’t insult the readers with stereotypes, cliches, or overused tropes. Instead, Remender likes to bring healthy doses of realism to his characters. From little Pia to Kadir, each is well defined with their own personal flaws, self absorbed motivations, as well as their brilliance and fearlessness. A large amount of tension stems from conflicts between all these very diverse set of characters. This isn’t to say the characters aren’t likable. In fact, not only are the readers able to connect to these characters, but also their realistic portrayal helps anchor us down in this unbelievable epic. For example, we see Grant break away from the idealism and conventional nature of explores and scientists. Each new threat or revealed secret peels back another layer of Grant’s ego until only his raw and primal nature remains. Perhaps he sums it up best when he says,
“Ideology is masturbation. A jerk-off afforded to those few privileged with time on their hands and no wolves at the door. Put that shit to the test in the field. This is what you get. A savage monkey willing to die so long as he destroys his enemy”.
Also, Remender isn’t afraid to sacrifice lives in order to remain true to the tale. By issue six, the readers have already seen some prominent characters die. With a steady death count, most writers fail to keep the readers from becoming detached. However, each life which is lost, no matter how small their role, is always a gut punch to the readers. Because we care about these people, it adds just that much more tension and feeling of risk. Once again, this shows how much talent is embedded in the writing.
Meanwhile, Matteo Scalera does an excellent job of balancing the familiar with the exotic. Each creature, plant, civilization looks somewhat familiar while simultaneously new and exotic. The eyes never feel like they are staring at another world or planet; rather, they are looking at this world from a flipped and reinvented perspective. Furthermore, praise also goes to Scalera and his team’s endurance for being able to completely rebuild our world from issue to issue. Each new dimension has its own unique and defining characteristics, and it’s always a dark and beautiful treat for the eyes.
At the end of the first arc, we’re left with a nail biting conclusion that Remender has only just begun this ride. He’s kicked off a dynamic and beautiful tale which is willing to challenge conventional story telling and examine how human nature and destiny fit into scientific and technological progress.
STORY BY Rick Remender
ART BY Paul Renaud
Rick Remender takes a break from his reality splitting, time hopping madness of his Apocalypse Twins story arc. Instead, Remender gives us a satire about the entertainment industry while using Mojo as his surrogate. The story begins with Mojo trying to pitch his new high concept story arc to a room full of statistic vomiting board members until they finally green light a story about the Uncanny Avengers being attacked by their supernatural counterparts. Sound familiar because it should. This is a nod to the DC crossover event, Forever Evil, which was kicked off by Justice League and Justice League Dark fighting each other before they united to confront a larger antagonist, the Crime Syndicate. This metafictional nod sets the tone for the whole rest of the issue while Remender consistently makes fun of the poor choices the artists, editors, writers, and critics have been guilty of making in the Comic Book if not Entertainment Industry as a whole.
It’s interesting when the board members tell Mojo the story needs more highschool type drama in order for its target demographic to better relate to the characters. This is a self-referential sucker punch to Young Avengers, Jean Grey’s School, Hellfire Club, Avengers Academy. It has become increasingly frustrating watching the story arc play second fiddle to the love quadrangles. Brian Michael Bendis has admitted that the relationship between Emma Frost and Scott Summers made little sense. Storm is now with Wolverine instead of Black Panther. Does it matter? Nope, but the writers will still use this gossip to world build like it was one of Grandma’s daytime soap operas. Seriously, Logan is old, hairy, short, broke, angry, alcoholic, who had killed his “one true love” who he was having an affair with. Yet, Wolverine has slept with more people that would make even Emma Frost blush. If Wolverine didn’t have the healing factor, 80% of Marvel’s female population would have STD’s because of him.
However, the big jab is towards audiences in general. Remender comments how today critics are too afraid to say they don’t understand a plot. Instead, they will take the opposite approach and compliment the story no matter how indecipherable the story may be. No one wants to appear stupid so everyone goes along with the flow. In addition, if the story is too straight forward, people will whine about how boring it is. Basically, Rick Remender has boiled critics down to an adolescent child who suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder.
Quite honestly, how can we argue? Plot twists, action, and relationships being shoveled in just to keep peoples attention doesn’t equal good writing. Soon, it turns into a tangled mess and like Rogue in this story warns, “don’t pull too hard at the loose plot strings”; otherwise, it will cause the whole story to unravel. Perhaps the audience should dare to question the integrity of these stories. Hang on Mark Waid. How’s Daredevil able to jump around a city without killing the little girl with a bomb inside her gut or Hulk jumping around the city with his brain hanging out? Let’s not even get into the babbling nonsense of Faction’s Inhumanity or Spenser and Kot’s Secret Avengers.
In addition, it’s always a pleasure when writers stab at marketing research which force writers to curve their writing towards what is hot and trending in order to connect with their target demographic. For example, using a Marvel version of twitter in place of dialogue boxes even though it slows the pacing to a grueling stop is just as tacky as when the 80’s Teen Titans would reference Michael Jackson or product slogans. Yep, here’s looking at you Brian Bendis and Kieron Gillen.
Rick Remender has given us a fun commentary about the state of the Comic Book Industry. Although it came out of nowhere, it is nice that an A list writer validates the back slide of comic book standards. Although a critic can now be anyone with an internet connection, a 7th grade level of education, and a working knowledge of pop culture, doesn’t mean the industry should lower their own standards. Somebody should take accountability for the quality and content.
STORY BY J.M. DeMatteis, Ray Fawkes
Blight is the Jungian Shadow projection or manifestation of all of Humanity’s fears and evil thoughts. Unlike other stories which claim evil is an outside antagonist influencing people’s actions, evil in Fawkes and Matteis story is created by people themselves. When the Crime Syndicate invaded earth causing massive amounts of death and destruction, people’s fears and anger enhanced Blight’s strength and presence until it became it’s own devastating force. This imbalance between good and evil disrupted the natural order of Earth thereby forcing heroes like Swamp Thing and new Justice League Dark member Nightmare Nurse to find a way to restore balance. Meanwhile, Constantine remains self-invested in finding his lost lover Zatana. This was a nice throwback to the silver age of DC comics when writers would borrow heavily from new age philosophies.
With two writers, it’s impressive the characterization of everyone remained consistent. This keeps the story focused and although there are times the characters get in their own way, such as John Constantine, the story never undermines the characters in order to gain a cheap win. For example, Nightmare Nurse goes against her antagonistic nature in order to heal her team mates. Phantom Stranger goes against the league in order to save his friend. Constantine ends up being exiled for his bias towards self preservation. However, got to give Constantine credit for his uncanny ability to find a way to be naked around every female character in this story. Although we see character development, the writers never go against their protagonist’s natures. Each motivation, flaw, and strength makes the characters believable and relatable.
Another excellent feat is this is a eighteen issue story arc, yet it never slows down by throwing in filler and fluff. The action is steady but they weight it down with just the right amount of exposition boxes to give it the needed tone and danger. With an eighteen issue story arc of adrenaline action it could have been easy to just let the action push the story along; however, the writers take this opportunity to use inner dialogue boxes to further flesh out each person’s motivation. This is a nice contrast to some of the other Forever Evil story arcs which have villains being evil for evil sake or other shallow and unimaginative plot development.
Despite the heavy concept and high octane pacing, the story arc still manages to find room for humor to completely round out the story’s dynamic. The epitome of this comes when the protagonists are asking the great and powerful God for help and the writers rip a page from Wizard of Oz. Yep, the voice of god comes through a dog who is a mirror image of Toto and explains to John Constantine that he really does have a heart. Needless to say, it doesn’t take long before Constantine grows tired and walks out on God’s divine ability to state the obvious and take credit for other peoples work. Relax, this is a story where one of the most powerful heroes is a talking tree trunk. It isn’t exactly scripture although there was that talking bush that one time. Hmm, with all the other biblical references it wouldn’t be too far fetched for Matteis and Fawkes to write a scene about the Parliament of Trees speaking to Moses. After all, half the fun of reading Justice League Dark and Trinity of Sin is to see how the writers weave different religious mythology into the DC world.
Overall, Forever Evil: Blight is definitely one of the better installments. Although it lacks A list villains and heroes, the readers will inevitably care for each player involved, even the villains are able to earn the readers sympathy. In addition, these writers have proven they are capable of more than sitting on the sidelines cheering on the main Crossover event. Instead, they have crafted together an intense ride which showcases the difficulty of flawed individuals with conflicting motivations working together to achieve one goal.
STORY BY Mark Waid
ART BY Jim Cheung
We’re introduced to the newest member of the Nova Corps and who currently flies with the New Warriors. Unlike other spin offs or crossover events, issue zero does a nice job of catching the readers up on who Nova is. In addition, it throws in a little skirmish to fully nail down the tone and character of Nova. Nova also becomes the relatable narrator. Because Nova is new to the world of Marvel’s Cosmic Universe, new readers are learning along with Nova. This makes it easier for the readers understanding when the story transitions it’s focus on The Watcher.
Presumably, by the time issue one hits the shelves The Watcher, Uatu, will already be dead. After all, Original Sin carries the tag line of, “Who Killed the Watcher”. With that in mind, it’s nice issue zero gives the readers a chance to know the victim and understand Uatu’s purpose. Otherwise, the crossover event of the year will retain little gravity.
Furthermore, the story arc is a classic who-done-it mystery. It will be interesting to see if this mystery will have re-readability to live pass its conclusion. Often these types of mysteries lose their appeal once the ending has been spoiled. Regardless, one of the greatest parts about these types of mysteries are the skeletons hiding in various peoples closets and how those secrets will influence their motivations. Issue zero already revealed secrets behind Nova and The Watchers motivations. Meanwhile, secrets are being revealed in other tie-in issues such as Avengers and Mighty Avengers.
What’s also interesting is issue zero revealed images from other Marvel continuities or universes. We’ve already witnessed Ultimate and 2099 universe converge into the Marvel Now continuity. Perhaps there are more forgotten characters or time lines waiting to be reintroduced.
There’s a large team of great artist behind this story arc and each panel shows it. There’s so much detail crammed into the backgrounds of the panels it almost looks like each section is fighting for attention. Wandering into The Watcher’s layer and exploring what he sees was a treat for the new eyes and old fans. There’s also plenty details given to hologram technology to give every cosmic fan a sense of nostalgic wonder. The colors and shading bring every character to life and the action feels like its exploding off the page. The Marvel Now cosmic titles show how much comic book art has been able to progress since the cosmic era of Jack Kirby.
Overall, we’re sure to see surprising guest appearances emerge from the shadows while other revelations will subvert our understanding of well known characters. Whether or not Original Sin can keep up with its promises remains to be seen, but its first shot in the dark certainly grabs attention.