Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in review! Or: The Forth Annual X's Untitled Awards post!!!

Here we go! 2011 is coming to a close, and 2012 is just a few hours away. The end of the year means one thing here at this blog... It's time for X's Forth Annual Unnamed Year End Awards!!! I honestly can't believe this is the FORTH annual year end awards post I'm doing! I didn't expect this blog to last past the one year mark, and we are now on year four here. That's truly amazing to me. But enough about me, this post is ALL about comic books and the year 2011. I'll be handing out awards for various topics, basically a combination of past year-end posts I've done as well as whatever else pops into my head. Before we get started, first a disclaimer... All of these awards I'll be listing below? They are all my own personal opinion. That's all there is to it. These are the things I enjoyed or hated about the year 2011. Years of doing this post have taught me that there are some people who take great offense at anything that doesn't agree with their opinions... I'm always happy to discuss my picks with other passionate fans, and I'd love to hear what all of you guys reading this would have chosen as your own picks. All I ask is that we keep it civil around here, don't be that person who chimes in with the always helpful, “I didn't agree with your pick for favorite writer... YOU SUCK!” I already KNOW that I suck, you don't need to tell me! Instead of that, tell me who YOU would have picked and why. Productive dialogue rules! Besides all of that, remember, while I've read a crazy amount of comic books this year, I haven't read EVERY comic book that dropped this year. So yes, there may have been really good titles that I've missed out on. I can only talk about the stuff I read. Okay, with the boring stuff out of the way, let's get to the fun stuff. Here are my official picks for the best of 2011!!!

Favorite Writer: Christos Gage. While this was the first category I decided to do for the year, this was also the toughest category for me to select a winner from... Seriously, there were several writers who COULD have conceivably come away with this award, but nobody really jumped out at me. In the end, I went with the writer whose work I can ALWAYS rely on for at least an 8 out of 10 score-wise, Christos Gage... And trust me when I say that I agonized over this pick. Avengers Academy has been a fantastic series(good enough to win series of the year? Read on to find out!), and prior to that I thoroughly enjoyed Gage's work on Avengers: The Initiative. Gage is one of those rare writers who can tell a great story, keep it interesting, AND bring fantastic dialogue. Looking back at everything of Gage's that I've read this past year, I can't point at anything and say, “Yeah, that sucked.” Add his work from prior years(yeah, I shouldn't do that, but it's my awards post, so I can fudge the rules how I like!), and Gage is the ever so slight nod as my favorite writer of 2011.
Runners-up: Rick Remender(Uncanny X-Force, Venom), Dan Slott(Amazing Spider-Man), Jason Aaron(Wolverine, X-Men: Schism, Wolverine and the X-Men).

Least Favorite Writer: Tony Daniel. Here's the topic that usually gets me the most flak from angry comic book fans, but hey, if I was afraid of pissed off fanboys, I'd have closed this blog down years ago. Tony Daniel has done two things I'd never have expected to happen... First, he caused me to drop Batman prior to the DC reboot. Then, he caused me to drop Detective Comics after the DC reboot. That says a lot about my thoughts on Daniel's writing... Don't get me wrong, I think he's a fantastic artist, but as a writer? No. No thanks. Now, whenever I see the name Tony Daniel on a comic, I rapidly walk past it. So, what are my gripes with Daniel? Well, prior to the reboot, the Sensei and Catgirl stuff completely turned me off, and then post-reboot we ended up with Joker cutting off his face, the Dollmaker and Penguin... So yeah. Bad stuff there.
Runners-up: Geoff Johns(Brightest Day, Flash), Dan Didio(Outsiders), Brian Michael Bendis(Avengers).

Favorite Ongoing Series: Avengers Academy. And here's the first major surprise of this year's awards. After a quick search of the blog, I narrowed my favorite ongoing comic series down to 4. From there I went through my posts for those four series and checked out what I scored them. Amazingly, Avengers Academy came away with FOUR perfect scores for the year. Considering I only gave out 27 perfect scores for 2011, that's a pretty impressive percentage. So what is so good about this series? For me, it's everything an Avengers comic book SHOULD be, as well as giving us some fantastic characterizations, great stories and solid art. I mean it's the total package! Each of the Academy cadets are flawed and interesting, the teaching staff is also full of their own issues, and they recently added Hawkeye as a member of this series... There's honestly not much I could possibly think about that could make this series any better for me. So kudos to Christos Gage and company for putting together the best comic book on the market today. If I can convince a single comic fan to give this series a shot due to this post, then I'll have considered this post a major success.
Runners-up: Uncanny X-Force, Venom, Amazing Spider-Man, pre-reboot Batgirl.

Least Favorite Ongoing Series: The Avengers. Okay, first off, right off the bat, this result surprised me. I was going through the blog and noticed that I gave Avengers two 0 scores for the year. After that, I started to check out the rest of the scores, and man was this series schizophrenic! The beginning of the year wasn't that bad. We had 3 scores over an 8 1/2, and one as high as a 9 1/2. Then, right around the time Fear Itself started up, this series nosedived... And bad. The past 7 issues included two 0's, a 1, and a 2 1/2. We went from having relatively okay Bendis, to having HORRIBLE Bendis, all over the course of a few months. Now, with the Fear Itself event over and a huge Ultron storyline on the horizon I'm expecting Bendis to right the ship here, but unfortunately, and yes, surprisingly, Avengers gets the nod as the worst ongoing series I currently still read.
Runner-up: Generation Hope. Since I cut down on a lot of the comics I wasn't enjoying, that's it here.

Favorite Event of the Year: Fear Itself. I know there are a lot of people who would disagree with me on this one, but I honestly enjoyed the Fear Itself event for the most part. The first two or three issues were exceptionally strong, and the ending was satisfying. Yeah, the middle dragged a bit, and some of the tie-ins didn't add much to the story(Home Front started off well enough but rapidly fell apart, the Fearsome Four was awful and Ghost Rider was just bizarre), and Marvel has already begun to undo much of the things that happened during this event(ie: Bucky & Thor's “deaths”), but like I said, overall I enjoyed this. The story was strong and many of the tie-ins(Youth In Revolt, the early Iron Man stuff, most of Journey Into Mystery) actually added to the main story, which is something you don't often see with events of this size. I can safely say that this was one of Marvel's better events, from start to finish in recent memory.
Runner-up: Spider-Island.

Least Favorite Event of the Year: Brightest Day. Yes, this is kind of a cop-out answer considering I also had this as my Least Favorite Event of 2010, but hey, it DID go on until March, so I CAN still use it here. And honestly, Brightest Day was so horrible on SO many levels, it deserves being named my Least Favorite Event for two consecutive years. Hell, if I could figure out a way, I'd probably try to name it the worst event for 2012 as well! This was an event that had literally no redeeming qualities. It had a horrendous reveal at the end(Swamp Thing? Really?), most of the stories made no sense(Hawk NEVER did what he was tasked to do and yet was never punished!), and I gave the final issue a score of about -400 or so. So really, there was nothing that even came close to reaching the levels of terrible this event reached.
Runner-up: War of the Green Lanterns(while I didn't read the whole thing, and skipped massive parts of the story, from what I did see, it looked like your basic I ♥ Hal Jordan story Geoff Johns has been writing for years now).

Favorite Mini-Series of the Year: Avengers: The Children's Crusade. Well this is weird... Much like my Least Favorite Event, Children's Crusade also came away with the award for my Favorite Mini-Series from last year... That just goes to show you how damn delayed this excellent mini-series has been. As for why I picked this as my favorite mini-series, it's quite simple... 9 1/2, 10, 10, 10, 9, 8. What does that mean? Those are the scores I've given the 6 issues of this mini-series that came out this year. Honestly, it doesn't get any better than that. Add the fact that the stuff happening in this mini-series DOES have bearing on the current and future Marvel Universe(Rictor kept the powers he received in this mini, Wanda has been confirmed to take part in this year's Avengers vs X-Men event), plus a perfect blend of story, dialogue and art and you have a mini-series that will probably go down as my favorite EVER. And considering all of the comic books I've read, that is insanely high praise.
Runners-up: Hawkeye: Blindspot, Kick-Ass 2, Captain America: Man out of Time.

Least Favorite Mini-Series: Silver Surfer. So you're Greg Pak. Marvel has told you to do a mini-series involving the Silver Surfer. They've told you that you can use the awesome High Evolutionary as the main villain of the piece. What do you do? You de-power the Surfer, turn him into a whiny bitch, and remove the best part of the Surfer's comic books, the whole cosmic aspect... It made no sense when I read it then, and it makes no sense in retrospect. Add strange cameos(the FF! The woman from Iron Man 2.0!) and you have a truly awful mini-series. One that SHOULD have been SO much better...
Runners-up: X-Men: Prelude to Schism, Wolverine & Jubilee.

Hero of the Year: Captain America(Steve Rogers).This was another category I had a tough time picking a winner for... In the end though, it was hard to chose anybody but Steve Rogers. Steve started the year as the head of the agency that used to be SHIELD/HAMMER, ran the Secret Avengers and was the “commander” of the Avengers(whatever THAT means...). After the “death” of his best friend and former sidekick Bucky Barnes, Steve took the Captain America mantle back and rallied the Avengers against the Serpent and his forces, at one time standing before the Serpent and ALL of his Worthy by himself! Now THAT takes balls! Steve, with Thor's hammer, took the fight to the Serpent possessed Sin, and helped lead the Avengers to a victory over the Serpent, saving the Earth in the process. After that, Steve, now as Cap full-time again, puts together a new team of Avengers, sees to the reformation of SHIELD, and does his own solo thing. In other words, Cap was busy this year! Add a blockbuster movie, and this year has to go to Cap.
Runners-up: Thor, Spider-Man, Iron Man

Villain of the Year: The Serpent. It's hard not to pick the character that devastated the Marvel Universe throughout the Fear Itself event. The Serpent and his forces destroyed most of Washington DC, toppled Avengers Tower, rampaged through New York City and Dayton, Ohio(I'm still puzzled over that one...) and destroyed Paris(although that's already been retconned). Add killing Thor personally(which is on the way to being retconned) and directing his forces to kill Bucky Cap(which has already been retconned) and that is one hell of an epic year for any villain, especially a brand new one! Sure, Marvel is already undoing most of he Serpent's vile deeds, but looking back at what he did, before it was undone, that is a great body of work for any villain.
Runners-up: Sin, most of the faculty at Morning Glories academy, Plutonian, pre-reboot Lex Luthor, Archangel, Barry Allen, Dan Didio & Geoff Johns, the Red Right Hand... This was a great year to be evil!

Best Single Issue of the Year: Avengers: The Children's Crusade #5. Not only was this my favorite issue of 2011, it's probably going to go down as one of the greatest single comic book issues I've ever read. And I don't make a statement like that lightly. I've been reading comic books for 15 years now, since I was a wee little punk. I've managed to amass a comic book collection that would rival that of a small comic book shop. I've read thousands upon thousands of comic books. THIS issue is one of the truly great ones. This is an issue I'll be thinking back on for years to come. Scott Lang's embrace with his daughter, poor, poor Jack of Hearts, Wanda finally getting her memories back, Doom vs Magneto, Doom telling the Avengers off, every single page of this issue was seven different flavors of awesome. Since I could literally go on and on about this, I'll simply leave a link for my review of this issue HERE and move on.
Runner-ups: Hawkeye: Blindspot #1, Fear Itself #7.1, Avengers Academy #15, Avengers: The Children's Crusade #6.

Worst Cancellation News of the Year: REBELS!!!!! I'd been souring on DC from the end of Blackest Night. Brightest Day was just plain awful, and made me realize that the writers and editors at DC weren't as great as I'd once thought. But there were some great books still coming out of DC towards the early portion of this year, prior to the reboot... Detective Comics, Batgirl, Red Robin, Zatanna, Gotham City Sirens... But none of them were as good as REBELS. REBELS was far and away my favorite DC series. It had fantastic characters(Vril Dox and his son Lyrl are still amongst my favorites in ALL of comicdom), it had a great villain in Starro the Conquerer(seriously, Tony Bedard turned Starro from a joke into a BEAST), it had great stories, it had great art, the dialogue was great, I think you get the message... It was all great. So what does DC, in their infinite wisdom, do? Why they cancel it of course! So yes, I was downright angry when I found out. Then a few months later, word of the DC reboot leaks out... “Okay,” thinks I, “Maybe DC will bring this series or a LEGION series back with many of the same characters.” Instead we get an OMAC series, a Frankenstein series and TWO Legion of Super-Hero series, but no REBELS/LEGION series... But you know? Maybe that's for the best. I truly don't think the Powers-That-Be currently at DC can tell their asses from their elbows, so maybe it'll be better for these great characters to remain in limbo until DC gets some new blood in their highest offices. You know, people who aren't fanboys obsessed with DC's Silver Age. It's at that time I will be holding out hope that REBELS/LEGION returns. Oh well, at least I'll always have this:Runners-up: The entire DCU, Daken: Dark Wolverine(yeah, it hasn't happened yet, but since the news broke in 2011, I figure I can use it here)

Favorite Cover of the Year: Captain America: The Korvac Saga #4. You know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? With that old adage in mind, take a gander at this cover:I'm sorry, but every time I see that cover I can't help but chuckle just a bit. I mean it's CAPTAIN AMERICA punching frigging GALACTUS in the FACE! On top of that, the actual facial expressions of the two characters involved are just priceless... You have Cap's determination, and Galactus's “Is he out of his mind?!?” expression. Sure, this scene, nor anything resembling it took place IN this comic, but that cover... It ruled.

What the HELL?!? Moment of the Year: Killer Croc: cannibal with a heart of gold. The DC reboot has done a lot of things. Some good, some bad. Opinions have been quite varied. I'll be the first to say that I'm not a fan of the reboot as a whole, but will admit that some good DID come from it(more on THAT later). However, with the good, came the flat out bizarre... Such as the strange case of Killer Croc... Now, in the pre-DC reboot world, Killer Croc was originally a stone cold killer with delusions of becoming Gotham City's top crime lord. Eventually he mutated and pretty much became a crocodile, and started eating people. In other words, he was a real nasty piece of work. In the post-reboot DCU, Killer Croc will forever be known for this:Yes, that's right, this version of Killer Croc not only WOULDN'T kill Roy, he starts giving him advice!!! I mean, fine, let's say the new, post-reboot Croc isn't a cannibal. Hey, maybe the Powers-That-Be eliminated that from his characters. Maybe he doesn't even have his eyes set on becoming Gotham's reigning crime lord... But what kind of self-respecting super-villain would say THIS:This whole scene is just too bizarre for words... If there's a super-villain union, Killer Croc needs to be tossed out of it pronto. On the plus side, if Croc does decide to quit being a villain, he probably has a career as a motivational speaking in his future.
Runners-Up: There are none! Nothing could top this!

Worst Moment of the Year: The DCU Reboot.This was actually a tough one to choose because I'll admit, there was some good that came with the reboot, namely many of the Wildstorm characters being brought into the DCU. I mean getting Grifter and Midnighter in the DCU HAS to be considered a good thing. Jason Todd FINALLY got his own series, and Roy Harper is a part of the cast! Sure, the first few issues haven't been that great, but with two of my favorite DC characters in that series, I'm still holding out hope. My problem is with everything we lost to get those few good things... The Stephanie Brown Batgirl series? Gone. Steph as Batgirl? Gone in favor of that washed up, has-been Barbara Gordon... And I say that as somebody who LIKED Babs prior to the reboot! Superboy? A completely, unrecognizable character that's more robot than human. Wonder Girl? Unrecognizable. Gotham City Sirens? Replaced by an inferior Catwoman title. Power Girl? Seemingly changed into a totally different character. And of course, the lowest of the low(for anybody who isn't a total Silver Age fanboy), Wally West apparently never having existed... Yep, because Geoff Johns and Dan Didio have hard-ons for Barry Allen, the past 25 some odd years of Wally's adventures, all of his character growth, his development as a hero, his wife, his family, all of it has been seemingly struck from existence by two scumbags. That right there? Wally's banishment? THAT is why I am so down on DC comics as a whole. I'll state it right here, right now. If DC kills Barry back off and replaces him with Wally, I would pick up ALL of the DC series I dropped these past three months, as well as try out several series I skipped originally. Seriously, Barry Allen, more than any story, any event, any character, anything, has drained my enjoyment of DC comics. Plain and simple. The moment Barry's gone and Wally's back is the moment I embrace DC the same way I embraced Marvel after they did away with all of that idiotic Norman Osborn HAMMER nonsense.
Runners-up: Bucky Cap's rather pathetic death during Fear Itself, The return of Black Bolt(but not Vulcan!), The downward spiral of the Avengers series during Fear Itself, Marvel having the balls to sell Fantastic Four #600 for $8(!!!).

Best Moment of the Year: The return of Bucky Barnes in Fear Itself #7.1. So back in early June, I was pretty happy with the way Fear Itself had been rolling along. The story made sense, the build was well done, the threat seemed large enough that it deserved it's own event, it was all good. And then Fear Itself #3 came out. And Captain America(Bucky at the time) was killed off. Not only was he killed off, but he was basically dismissed as a nothing before he was killed off. It wasn't like the Sin/Bucky battle raged on for several pages and Bucky threw himself in front of a bus full of crying babies, sacrificing his own life for the infants... No, Sin just kind of smacked Bucky around before impaling him with her ax. The end. Considering the huge Bucky fan I'd morphed into due to Ed Brubaker's excellent work with the character, I was pretty upset. Fear Itself #3 was one of the first comic books that got a review AND a standalone post dedicated to it... On the SAME day! Bucky's death kind of left a pall over the entire Fear Itself event for me. Forevermore, whenever I thought of Fear Itself, I'd think of Bucky's death, at least until Marvel brought Bucky back sometime down the road. I mean I'm no fool. I know how comic books work. A character dies for a few years and then said character is brought back to life. So while I was sure Bucky would be back again someday(much like Frosty the Snowman...), I knew the wait was going to drive me crazy... And then a wonderful thing happened... In the very first Fear Itself epilogue issue(Fear Itself #7.1), Bucky was brought BACK to life! Yes, Bucky coming back to life so soon(he was only dead for 5 months real time and like 5 days comic book time) makes me wonder what the sense in actually “killing” him in the first place was(yes, he was “killed” to get Steve Rogers back in the Cap uniform, but wouldn't Bucky being terribly injured serve the same purpose?), but hell, I wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth! And then to add some more awesomeness to the situation, we learn that come February 2012 Bucky will be starring in his own self-titled series(Winter Soldier), written by Ed Brubaker! So while he probably shouldn't have died in the first place, Bucky's return is definitely my fondest moment from the year 2011.
Runners-Up: The Scarlet Witch regaining her memories and showing that she has the ability to return mutant powers, Jason Todd getting his own series, Hawkeye as a playable character in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3(what?! It WAS a great moment!)

And I think that will just about wrap this post up. The first thing that I noticed upon proofreading this was the lack of DC related events here... But when you really think about it, I could really only choose DC related events prior to Flashpoint, which began around April or May. Once Flashpoint got underway, DC's entire line of books pretty much went into a holding pattern, since the entire company was setting the table for the reboot in September. Add the fact that I really couldn't use anything post-reboot, seeing as that we're only 4 issues in and nothing that I'd deem “major” has happened yet, mainly due to writers trying to reestablish the characters who have been retooled. It's difficult for something important to happen to a new character, which is what pretty much EVERY character in the DCU is now, a new character. Will 2012's award post give us a bunch of DC winners? I honestly don't know, but I have to say that seems very unlikely, since, much like the end of 2011, I'm going to have to think all of 2012 will be a rebuilding year for DC. On the other hand, Marvel is poised for a big 2012 as they've already lined up their next big summer event(Avengers vs X-Men), and have several interesting things lined up(Winter Soldier, the end of Avengers: The Children's Crusade, Nova's return, etc). No, if I were to make a “bold” prediction for 2012's award post, it would be that it's going to look nearly identical to 2011's. I'd like to hope that DC takes home a few more awards than they did this year, but realistically? I'm going to go out on a limb and say that 2012 will be the year of Marvel Comics. With the excitement for the DC relaunch already beginning to fade, as evident by November's sales figures, along with Marvel gearing up for the massive Avengers movie, and their many events, unless DC can pull out a miracle(or Marvel absolutely shoots themselves in the foot, which IS possible), this should be a mammoth year for the House of Ideas. As for X? Here's hoping this is a mammoth year for me as I FINALLY manage to put that diploma of mine to good use and get myself a real job! And that my friends, is that. Thanks for reading, and thanks for helping make 2011 this blog's most successful by far. Hopefully 2012 sees the blog reach even greater heights. Until next time, X out.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Ultimate X-Men #5

Okay, let's stick with the X-Men but switch things up and check out the Ultimate X-Men! This will be the last comic I review in 2011, as I'll be posting my Year End Awards next(probably around 7 PM Saturday). So let's hope we close out 2011 with a bang!

Ultimate X-Men #5:

What Happened: Quicksilver manages to smooth talk the president of the United States into sending a fleet of Nimrod Sentinels after William Stryker in exchange for Cerebra, which would allow the president to know where all of the mutants in the US were. Valerie Cooper is fully against making a deal with Quicksilver, but the president feels the public support for collecting the free mutants would outweigh everything else, and as such makes the deal with Quicksilver. As for Valerie, she begins to dig deep into William Stryker's files to see what his issues were. Speaking of Stryker, he's in Times Square(you know, this is the FORTH time in two nights a comic I've read has had major action taking place in Times Square) curing mutants of their powers and then murdering them for not repenting their sins. Iceman, the Human Torch, Jimmy Hudson and Rogue arrive on the scene, and before they can attack Stryker, Rogue betrays the rest of the team since she had a preexisting deal with Stryker, where she would betray several mutants to Stryker in exchange for being expunged of the “sin” of being a mutant. Shroud arrives on the scene and attacks Stryker before he can kill anybody else, at which time Valerie makes the shocking discovery that Stryker himself was a mutant, and that his power was to control machines. With that, all of the Nimrod Sentinels the president sent to Times Square to take Stryker out fall under Stryker's sway.

The Good: The Stryker revelation was a nice little twist that I didn't see coming. The cliffhanger was good. If this team of X-Men were to stay like this(maybe minus Rogue), I'd be fine with that. I enjoyed the parts with Quicksilver.

The Bad: I know I've said it before, but it bears repeating... I am sick of Stryker!!! Okay, so now he's a mutant... Fine, that's something different, but he's STILL the same boring-ass character he's always been! Now he just has some powers... With Rogue betraying the team to Stryker, there's NO reason she should be allowed to stay on this team. Forgiving her would be, to me, unforgivable. While the cliffhanger was good, it means we're stuck with yet ANOTHER Marvel comic in which Stryker appears next issue...

The Verdict: This comic was okay, even with Stryker in it. I'm pretty certain that Nick Spencer should be able to have himself a nice little run on this series... Once he gets away from Stryker!!!

Score: 6 out of 10.I have to admit, I'm not usually for killing characters off, but when Stryker gets whacked I'll be doing my happy dance!

Uncanny X-Men #3

Hey, it's time to take a look at my least favorite team of mutants(possibly EVER), the current version of the Uncanny X-Men! Here's the score for those of you who don't know. I hate this team of X-Men. They're more the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants than a legitimate X-team(seriously, except for Storm, tell me I'm exaggerating!). As such, I'll be hoping they get smacked around some more by Mr. Sinister, who is, for me at least, the hero of this piece... Go Team Sinister!

Uncanny X-Men #3:

What Happened: The Brotherhood battle against the army of Sinister clones, but have little luck defeating the Sinisters since they just keep coming. Danger arrives on the scene to lend a hand, but even she can't tip the battle back in favor of the Brotherhood, as the Sinisters just keep on respawning. Eventually Emma Frost realizes that Sinister had based much of his mind on Lord Summers, and since she knew the mind of Lord Summers better than anybody, she manages to shut down Sinister and his army, but not before forcing Sinister to send the Dreaming Celestial's head back to it's body. Defeated, the Sinisters melt away, at which time ANOTHER Sinister strolls out of the museum Sinister had taken over. Sinister tells the team that he had learned from the past mistakes of the Sinister who had just lost, and as such ridded himself of his over-reliance on Lord Summers brain patterns. Sinister tells the Brotherhood that he'd be back someday before teleporting the museum away and shooting himself in the head. With Sinister gone(for now), Lord Summers and the Brotherhood head out to the Golden Gate Park just in time to watch the Celestials touch down to see who had tampered with the Dreaming Celestial. Lord Summers decides to tell the Celestials that the Earth was under his protection(REALLY??!?!?!?), at which time the Dreaming Celestial gives the rest of the Celestials the sign to leave since it was no longer in any jeopardy. The Brotherhood seems to think that THEY chased off the Celestials(for real?!) and the Brotherhood seem pleased by this turn of events.

The Good: Um... I guess Sinister will be back again sometime down the road. Granted, he's still bizarro Sinister, but maybe by the time he returns he'll be more like his normal self... That's all I've got...

The Bad: The Lord Summers/Celestials scene was one of the most cringe-inducing, horrible things I've read in some time... Has Lord Summers become so delusional that he thought he could take THE CELESTIALS?!? The Celestials are a cosmic force, Lord Summers is a deluded madman... If the Brotherhood were to fight the Celestials it would be akin to a platoon of tanks battling a pack of dogs... Our Lord and Savior Hope was in this comic. The Brotherhood won.

The Verdict: If you're a fan of this version of the X-Men, then I KNOW you liked this issue way more than I did. However, if you're like me and despise this version of the X-Men Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, this was a very unsatisfying ending to the first storyarc. I guess I'll have to take solace in the fact that Emma lost an arm. See, I DO try to look on the bright side of things!

Score: 4 out of 10.So speaketh Our Lord and Savior Hope!!!

Teen Titans #4

The first review for this Friday night? How's about we switch things up and take a gander at a DC book? In this case, the forth issue of Teen Titans. I'll admit, the first two issues of this series did NOTHING for me, but the third issue actually grew on me. Now the question is will this issue be like issues #1 & #2 or like issue #3?

Teen Titans #4:

What Happened: Wonder Girl ends up being confronted by EVIL Superboy in Times Square on New Year's Eve. It should go without saying that this leads to a fight. Meanwhile, Red Robin has invited Bunker and Skitter to his... um, back-up home(?) and we learn some more about Skitter(when she's in her bug form she remembers what she's done but has little control over herself). Somehow, Kid Flash and Solstice end up at Red Robin's door, and I literally mean somehow, since Kid Flash and Solstice were in Antarctica last issue. Back in Times Square, Superboy and Wonder Girl have a relatively even battle until SB unleashes all of his powers, sending WG for a loop. Red Robin and the rest of the Teen Titans(well, they aren't OFFICIALLY the Titans yet, but let's face it, they will be by the next issue) see the battle raging in Times Square on the TV and head out, arriving just in time to prevent SB from putting any more of a beating on Wonder Girl.

The Good: For the most part, this comic flowed along nicely. There wasn't anything that I could point at and say that I really disliked. The cliffhanger, while something that we've known was coming for like four months now, was still fun to see. I liked that we got some more background on Skitter. As usual, the art here was nicely done.

The Bad: What the HELL was up with Kid Flash, Red Robin and the clothes?! Seriously, did the two of them go from being 16-ish to being 6-ish?! That was just weird... If I'm being honest, I'd rather Superboy DIDN'T join the team next issue(or any issue for that matter). It's enough that we have moody Wonder Girl, do we really need broody Superboy here as well? I say leave him as a villain/occasional ally of the Titans and let him do his own thing in his own series. What the hell was the deal with Kid Flash and Solstice suddenly arriving at Red Robin's front door? With NO explanation?

The Verdict: Thankfully, this issue was more like the third issue than the first two. To be honest, I think Scott Lobdell has done such a good job with the characters he has here that THIS series may just be the DC series most primed to have a great 2012. And trust me, back when I read that first issue I NEVER thought I'd be saying THAT! But I can give credit where credit is due(occasionally) and yeah, Lobdell has done WAY better than I'd have expected here. Once some of the more confusing aspects of the story get sorted out, this could very well morph into my favorite DC comic.

Score: 7 1/2 out of 10.How odd...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Captain America & Bucky #625

Final review of the night will be the latest issue of the Captain America and Bucky series. Now that both Cap AND Bucky have their own ongoing series's, I'm somewhat intrigued to see just what this series will be giving us...

Captain America & Bucky #625:

What Happened: The second Bucky(a guy named Fred Davis... As for why he was the second Bucky, after the first Cap and Bucky “died” President Truman decided to replace the duo with two other heroes, since he didn't want the country demoralized by the loss of the original Cap and Bucky), now an elderly man, is giving a speech about the 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack when he is attacked by an android. Luckily, Captain America is there to save the day and destroy the robot before it could kill Fred. Later on, Cap and Fred talk, and Fred reveals that the android was very similar to the one that murdered the second Captain America(William Naslund), which itself was led by ANOTHER android named Adam II. Adam II had been thought destroyed, but now Cap isn't so sure. While the two men are talking, they are met by William Naslund III(?!), who reveals that he was indeed the secret grandson of the second Cap. Naslund is an expert in robotics from the Pentagon and offers his assistance with the case. Cap agrees and contacts the original Human Torch, since Adam II was created by the same man who created the Torch. With that, Cap, Naslund and the Torch leave, while Fred has a sneaking suspicion that something was fishy. This issue ends with a Bucky android exiting it's stasis tube.

The Good: I've always been a sucker for the history of Captain America(from Steve Rogers right on down to Bucky Barnes), so I enjoyed this look back at the second Cap and Bucky. The story was okay, even if it's a tad bit predictable(or so I think...). Everything from the story to the art to the dialogue was solid.

The Bad: It seems pretty likely that this William Naslund is either evil (and/)or an android... I mean him showing up like that was just a bit too convenient. The cliffhanger wasn't exactly the best I've ever seen... I mean an android version of Bucky comes out of a stasis chamber... And? While everything was solid, nothing was spectacular.

The Verdict: Eh, this was one of those perfectly acceptable comic books I yammer on about from time to time. I mean there was nothing wrong with it, but it also didn't get me excited for the next issue. It was okay, plain and simple.

Score: 6 1/2 out of 10.Sheesh, is that any way to treat the flag, Cap?

Avengers: Solo #3

Next comic in line for a rushed review, Avengers: Solo... Man am I behind with my reviewing so far this week...

Avengers: Solo #3(of 5):

What Happened: Trace reveals to Hawkeye that she(as well as several other women) had been operated on by some clandestine organization that wanted the women to give birth to little super-soldiers. The person supposedly running this organization? Captain America. It goes without saying that Hawkeye doesn't believe his role model would do something like that, and tries to convince Trace of that fact, but Trace insists that the people running the clinic were followers of Cap. Because of that, Trace implores Hawkeye not to involve any other Avengers in the investigation into what was really happening, and Hawkeye agrees to that. Hawkeye manages to trick Chance into giving him some information on who was running the organization that experimented on Trace and her friends, and upon leaving the prison Chance was being housed in, Hawkeye is attacked by some freaks sent out from the mysterious organization. Trace comes in to assist Hawkeye, as was the plan, but she decides to go against Hawkeye's plan by allowing herself to get captured, figuring Hawkeye could now follow her back to the organization's headquarters. Hawkeye is annoyed by Trace's recklessness, but has no choice but to follow. The back-up story dealt with Pym, Striker and Finesse of the Avengers Academy being attacked by a bunch of robotic dopplegangers of the original West Coast Avengers. The trio manage to shut down the robots, but before they can celebrate, Pym is knocked out and the two Academy cadets are confronted by Alkhema(!!).

The Good: The back-up story was, once again, the best thing about this issue. Adding Alkhema to the equation simply made a great story that much greater! The main story had lots of Hawkeye, so that's good, right?

The Bad: I'm just not into the main story here at all... An evil organization has conducted experiments on some women with the hope being that the women would one day get pregnant and have super-powered kids? The fact that the story actually makes you think that MAYBE Cap WAS behind this organization was flat out bizarre! The scene with Cap and Hawkeye was obviously meant to make us suspect that Cap was possibly up to no good, but come on, who's gonna buy that?!

The Verdict: Just like the first two issues of this mini, this one had a mediocre lead story that was saved by a great back-up feature. Honestly, if not for that fact that Hawkeye was the star of the main story, I'm not sure I'd have bothered reading this one until sometime early next week. I'll mainly be picking up the next issue simply for the back-up story and to read Hawkeye's dialogue, because I just don't see myself ever getting into the main story here.

Score: 6 1/2 out of 10.The only way this could have been better was if there was a robot Pym there in that awful red jumpsuit Pym used to wear...

Kick-Ass 2 #6

It's time to check out the next to last issue of the Kick-Ass 2 mini-series. I've enjoyed this mini for the most part, and with the climatic final battle on the horizon, things SHOULD get even better.

Kick-Ass 2 #6(of 7):

What Happened: After saving Kick-Ass from the Mother-Fucker's goons, Hit-Girl manages to convince Kick-Ass that he had to fight back against the Mother-Fucker. The two arrive at the Mother-Fucker's base and ambush some of the Mother-Fucker's lackeys. After some torture, Hit-Girl discovers that the Mother-Fucker was amassing his super-villain army in Times Square for a major assault. Hit-Girl calls her adoptive father(who is a cop) and warns him, so her dad has the NYPD beef up security in Times Square. As for Kick-Ass, he's putting the call out for all of the so-called super-heroes to head to Times Square in case there was any trouble. Mother-Fucker is pissed by the increased police presence in Times Square, but Mother Russia manages to draw the cops out of Times Square by setting on several explosions in other parts of the city. With most of the cops leaving Times Square to deal with the explosions, the Mother-Fucker and his crew know they have a good 10 minutes or so of total carnage before the cops realized they were misdirected. However, before their “fun” can get started in earnest, Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl confront Mother-Fucker and his posse. Mother-Fucker smugly tells the duo that they were outnumbered, but is taken aback when he realizes that several super-heroes had heeded Kick-Ass's call and had come to Times Square to back Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl up.

The Good: This comic was as over-the-top gory/profane/insane as you'd expect. The Mother-Fucker is a wonderfully evil character. I mean he's the total antithesis of Kick-Ass, thus making him the perfect foil for Kick-Ass. The next issue should be fantastic as it should close out the story that started in the first Kick-Ass mini-series.

The Bad: For whatever reason I just didn't enjoy this issue as much as I did the prior few... It seemed very rushed. There really wasn't any suspense, since we knew what the entire mini-series was leading up to(it was shown in the first issue!)... We knew Kick-Ass would pull himself together, we knew Hit-Girl would go back to her costumed alter-ego again, and we knew that the super-heroes would face down the super-villains in Times Square. I usually love JRJR's work, but much like the story, the art seemed oddly rushed as well...

The Verdict: Eh, this issue was nothing but a set-up issue for the final part of this story. It was okay, and accomplished everything it needed to do(set the stage for the final battle, get the various characters where they needed to go, etc), but that was all it did. If you skipped this issue and went from issue #5 to issue #7, you really didn't miss much. Needless to say, this was my least favorite issue of this thus far highly enjoyable mini-series, but I'm expecting Mark Millar and John Romita Jr to pull out ALL the crazy stops for the next issue.

Score: 7 out of 10.It's showdown time!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Deadpool #48

Next(and last) review for today? Deadpool! I don't know about anybody else, but I've been LOVING this Deadpool vs Evil Deadpool story thus far. Here's hoping it continues to be as good(and hilarious!) as it's been.

Deadpool #48:

Summary: Evil Deadpool has kidnapped the New York City Police Commissioner's children and poor stupid Deadpool has kidnapped a random little boy simply to try to steal Evil Deadpool's thunder. Deadpool figures Evil Deadpool would release the Police Commissioner's kids and go after Deadpool, since Deadpool had upstaged him. Unfortunately, Evil Deadpool could care less about what Deadpool has done, and has managed to get dozens of law agencies from Interpol to the FBI after Deadpool. Oh yeah, plus Evil Deadpool has tricked Captain America into thinking that Deadpool and Evil Deadpool were working together... Yep, Deadpool is right screwed here. Realizing that Evil Deadpool had screwed him but good, Deadpool tosses a bag of explosives out the window of the cab he stole, at which time he tells the child he kidnapped to drive the cab away. Deadpool exits the cab, the kid drives off and the explosives explode(as is what explosives do), which gives Deadpool the chance to hightail it away from the area to try to figure out how to find and stop his evil counterpart. Meanwhile, Evil Deadpool is concocting a trap that will force the Police Commissioner to accidentally kill his own children... Why? Because he's evil!

Thoughts: Meh. This comic was okay, but we didn't get any Deadpool on Evil Deadpool action, thus hurting my enjoyment of this one. Sure, Evil Deadpool and Deadpool are fun on their own, but together they are pure comic book gold! But sadly they were never together here. The story was solid, but the hilarity that had marked the previous few issues wasn't here, and as I've stated before, one of the main things I expect from a Deadpool comic is a few good laughs, which, to me at least, is the most important thing about an issue of Deadpool. Oh well, here's hoping we get the mammoth Evil Deadpool/Deadpool showdown next issue.

Score: 7 out of 10.Evil Deadpool sure does say “dude” a lot, doesn't he?

Avengers: The Children's Crusade #8

The first comic book review of this week is an easy one... This is the best mini-series I've read in ages, and depending on how things end up, it could wind up being my favorite mini-series ever. How's that for an introduction? So without further ado, here's the penultimate issue of Avengers: The Children's Crusade.

Avengers: The Children's Crusade #8(of 9):

Summary: We begin this one with Dr. Doom now in control of the Scarlet Witch's reality warping abilities. Doom is happy about this fact(needless to say) and promises to use the powers to make the Earth into a utopia... Provided he was accepted by everybody as the Earth's ruler. Wanda tells Doom to return her powers since they would undoubtedly destroy Doom as they destroyed her, but Doom feels he's better equipped to deal with the power and disregards Wanda's words. Doom asks the Young Avengers if they would follow him, but they also refuse. Spurned, Doom sends the Young Avengers and Wanda back to where the X-Men and Avengers had been battling. The X-Men immediately attack Wanda and Emma Frost knocks Wanda out telepathically. The Young Avengers warn the two teams that Wanda was no longer a threat, and upon looking in Wanda's mind, Emma sees that Doom did indeed possess Wanda's powers. Lord Summers, even knowing that Doom was the real menace here, still wants the X-Men to take Wanda into custody to answer for all of her depowering of mutantkind, and all of the damage that rash act had caused. Wiccan sticks up for Wanda, trying to explain that her actions were a tragic accident, and that most of the X-Men and Avengers committed crimes before they had become heroes. Before the heroes can decide whether to listen to Wiccan's words or not, Doom appears on the scene and offers the X-Men and Avengers several boons(cures to various ailments, world peace, the return of dead friends/teammates), provided they accepted his “benevolent” rule. The assembled heroes natural say no to that offer, so Doom grows to an enormous size and engages the Avengers, X-Men and X-Factor in battle. Wanda asks for Wiccan's assistance, figuring the two of them would be able to create a spell that would force Doom's stolen powers back where they belong(I think...). Ant-Man joins the fray, figuring he could disrupt giant Doom's attention by flying into his ear, but he is seemingly squashed by Doom. Stature freaks out at that and grows to match Doom's size, flooring Doom with a punch. Doom retaliates with a massive blast of energy that sends Stature hurtling away from him. The rest of the Young Avengers join the fight against Doom, which allows Wanda and Wiccan to complete the spell, which opens a portal granting Doom more power. Doom continues to try to absorb the power, but it turns out to be too much for his body to hold, as the power burns Doom's face and body, leaving him back where he started, scarred and without Wanda's powers. Wanda tries to help Doom to his feet, but Doom pushes her away and seemingly takes credit for all of the evil acts Wanda did during Avengers Disassembled and House of M(??), before teleporting away. With Doom gone, Ant-Man regains consciousness and returns to normal size just in time to see all of the heroes tending to his critically injured daughter.

Thoughts: Well, first things first, I guess. This issue was probably my least favorite issue of this mini-series thus far. That's not to say that it wasn't still really good, it just didn't move me like so many of those early issues did. Maybe it's because most of this issue was just a big fight between giant Doom and the heroes, which robbed us of all of the awesome dialogue and character development we had been getting prior to this issue. Besides that, Wiccan and Wanda's actions were kind of hard to figure out... Were they trying to get the powers away from Doom and back to Wanda? Were they trying to get the powers away from everybody? Were they trying to force Doom to try to absorb more power than his body could handle? Were they going for something else altogether? I was never sure. Oddly, this series is kind of making me LESS interested in the upcoming Avengers vs X-Men event... I mean we're already GETTING the Avengers vs the X-Men in this mini-series, probably written and illustrated WAY better than we'll wind up with come this Spring. I would fully expect a perfect score for the next issue, because with the main battle already fought, we should get what made those early issues so fantastic, lots and lots of character interactions in the aftermath of this one. Will Wanda have her powers? Who will take her, the X-Men or the Avengers? Did Ant-Man return to life just to watch his daughter die? What of the Young Avengers? Will they end up back in limbo, or does Marvel FINALLY have plans for these wonderful characters? So while this issue didn't blow me away, I'm already expecting the final issue to be one of the best comics of 2012!

Score: 8 out of 10.Oh Doom... When will you ever learn...

New Comic Day! December 28th edition

Hey there X-Maniacs, we are only a few days away from the New Year... But more importantly, we are only a few days away from X's Forth Annual Unnamed Comic Book Awards Post!!! Yes, it WILL be awesome. But more on that in a bit, first let's talk about the real purpose of this post, the fact that it's New Comic Day!! Huzzah! Last week I had an ungodly number of comics to review, here's hoping things are a bit more manageable for me this week. As such, let's take a peek at which books I snagged earlier today! Green Lantern: New Guardians #4, Justice League Dark #4, Teen Titans #4, Voodoo #4, Annihilators: Earthfall #4, Avengers: The Children's Crusade #8(!!!), Captain America #5, Captain America #6(two in one week!?), Avengers Solo #3, Deadpool #48, Captain America and Bucky #625, Iron Man 2.0 #12, Kick-Ass 2 #6, Mighty Thor #9, Secret Avengers #20, Ultimates #5, Ultimate X-Men #5, Uncanny X-Men #3. So 18 new books this week(it would have been more, but I'm still waiting for my shop to get I, Vampire #2, which is why I didn't pick up I, Vampire #4). That's better than last week, but still a tad bit higher than I'd like. If we could drop to around 13 or so, I'd be quite pleased. Anyway, this week's Pick of the Week is an absolute no-brainer, so I'm not even going to bother drawing out the suspense. It's Avengers: The Children's Crusade #8, period, the end. There are some other books here that look good, but nothing else I have in front of me is anywhere close to the awesomeness of Children's Crusade. As for this week's Runt of the Litter, that was a pretty easy pick as well. It has to be Green Lantern: New Guardians #4. The last page of the prior issue was SO bad that I seriously considered dropping this series then and there! This issue will probably go a long way in helping me decide whether this book stays on my pull list or whether it gets dropped. The deciding factor? Larfleeze. If I see too much of him in this comic, it'll be getting the ax, plain and simple. Now, this week is a bit tricky... I'll be posting two or three reviews tonight, three reviews on Thursday and Friday night. As for Saturday? I'll be posting the aforementioned year end post, meaning no new reviews. Sunday I'll go back to posting new reviews. Or at least that's the plan, we'll see what happens. But expect reviews up tonight(probably late tonight) for Children's Crusade #8, Kick Ass 2 #6 and/or Deadpool #48. And I think we have reached the end of the line for yet another New Comic Day post. I'll be back later on with those reviews, so until then, it's X out........ Oh wait, no it's not! I almost forgot, I'm trying to get my picture blog back on it's feet(check it out HERE!), so I'll be moving the Random Scan of the Week(which normally accompanies this post) to the picture blog. So feel free to check that out over there. Now, until later, (for real this time!)X out!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Avengers #20

The last comic to be reviewed in my new comic pile? This week's Runt of the Litter, Avengers #20. I am SO not looking forward to reading this... I mean I was actually considering reviewing this issue using Brightest Day Rules... THAT'S how much I expect this one to suck! Seriously, I am expecting the absolute, total and complete worst here... PLEASE prove me wrong, Bendis...

Avengers #20:

What Happened: We start off by learning that it wasn't actually Norman Osborn confronting the Avengers at their press conference, but a hologram of Osborn. Red Hulk ends up getting rid of the hologram before Iron Man can trace the signal, which means the Avengers have to try to find Osborn and his HAMMER lackeys the old fashioned way. With that, Captain America splits the team into a four groups and sends them out to various old Osborn haunts. Naturally, all four locations are traps, and this issue ends with the Avengers on the defensive.

The Good: After we got past the complete stupidity of Osborn and Viper as well as Osborn and the press conference, this was a pretty solid story! The Avengers were ambushed on four fronts, all but one of the traps making pretty good sense. For a change, I'm actually looking forward to the next issue of this series.

The Bad: Iron Man being corrupted by HAMMER and/or AIM probably shouldn't have happened... I'm pretty sure Tony Stark's technology is heads and shoulders better than AIM's. The beginning of this issue was Bendis at his worst, especially the utterly pointless conversation between Osborn and Viper. No matter how much he wants it to be otherwise, I just can't take Norman Osborn as a serious threat to the Avengers... Spider-Man? Sure. But Earth's Mightiest Heroes? Nope.

The Verdict: The good here definitely outweighed the bad, so huzzah for that. This issue turned out to be a very pleasant surprise, as I was expecting a comic so bad I'd be using negative numbers to score it. Was it perfect? No, of course not, but it was WAY better than what we've been getting from this series for the past 8 months or so. So for that, I have to say I am happy. Hopefully Bendis will wrap up this Osborn story and get back to the relatively good stories we were getting back when this series relaunched.

Score: 7 out of 10.Yeah, that's kind of creepy...

Daredevil #7

And now we come to a Christmas issue of Daredevil... You know, if I would have realized this was a Christmas issue earlier, I'd have done this review for Christmas, instead of a few days after... Oh well...

Daredevil #7:

What Happened: While taking some blind kids on a trip to the Catskills for Christmas, the bus Matt Murdoch(Daredevil!) was riding in ends up crashing, killing the driver and stranding DD and the eight blind kids. DD keeps up a brave front and tries to lead the kids to safety, but the inclement weather ends up wreaking havoc on DD's radar senses and he ends up falling down a hill and knocking himself silly after hearing a truck off in the distance. Luckily for DD, the eight kids build a makeshift gurney(!?!) and drag him through the snow to an abandoned house where DD could call the cops from. With that, everybody is safe and sound(except for the poor bus driver, who's dead!) and we end this issue happily.

The Good: Until the UBER-hokey ending, I was enjoying this issue. Mark Waid built a great sense of dread here and had me honestly wondering how DD would get out of this one(especially since his clothing had been torn and his DD costume was exposed). The art was solid. I enjoy the occasional one and done comic book to break up all of the 5 and 6 part storylines I'm constantly reading.

The Bad: As I mentioned above, I was thoroughly enjoying this issue until that ending... I get this was supposed to be an uplifting holiday issue but ugh... The kids not only get DD to safety(where he can steal some clothes to hide his DD attire), but they also build a gurney out of sticks!? There's a bit of a cliffhanger depicting a graveyard, but it didn't exactly get me psyched for the upcoming Spidey/DD x-over.

The Verdict: This was a good comic. If there would have been a better ending, I'd probably go so far to say this was a really good or even great comic. But alas, it was not to be. Don't get me wrong, I totally get what Waid was doing here(show that the kids weren't helpless even when the super-powered adult was), but blind or not, what 8-12 year olds(which is where I'm guessing these kids fell age-wise) are going to have the wherewithal to build a gurney and drag their mentor to safety after he's injured himself?! Hell, if I was one of those kids I'd be long frozen to death, not creating stuff out of sticks! Then again, I was a really dumb kid... Eh, regardless, that ending was a bit too sugary for my taste. This is a series that's right on the fence in terms of me dropping it... Most likely I'll stick around for the Spidey x-over and then say so long to ol' Hornhead.

Score: 7 out of 10.Yup, DD's a loser...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Incredible Hulk #3

Although I've been enjoying this series a ton, this is probably going to be the last issue I pick up. Marvel has been bleeding me dry with their damned double and triple shipping every month, which has led to me identifying certain $4 comics that are going to wind up on the chopping block. This series is sadly one of those series. Probably... We'll talk after I give it a read.

Incredible Hulk #3:

What Happened: Hulk returns to his mole-people and discovers that Crazy Bruce Banner's(yes, he's officially “Crazy Bruce” now.) weird gamma-warthog pets had captured all of the child mole-people to draw Hulk out... You know, this scene is WAY better than it sounds... Trust me on that one... Anyway, Hulk and the two warthogs battle for a while with the battle ending when Hulk smashes the ground open which causes the warthogs to be swallowed up by the earth. Realizing that if he stayed with the mole-people he'd be allowing his enemies to possibly hurt him through them, Hulk leaves the mole-people and returns to the government agents who were tracking Crazy Bruce, telling them he'd join up and help them hunt Crazy Bruce down. This one ends with one of the government agent's tracer devices finding Crazy Bruce's island and Crazy Bruce preparing for the inevitable invasion with an army of gamma-powered animals.

The Good: I have to say, I really enjoyed the story here... It was chock full of action, and was the type of story you really didn't have to think too hard about while reading it. The cliffhanger was fantastic... Probably too good... Dammit...

The Bad: I'm just going to come right out and say it... The mole-people are a dumb concept. There. It had to be said... I guess there COULD have been a bit more to this comic than Hulk smashing some green warthogs, but that's not a huge complaint... The only way I can see this storyline ending is with Hulk and Crazy Bruce merging again, especially since that appears to be the only way Crazy Bruce won't die from his brain tumor.

The Verdict: Dammit!! When I wrote the introduction to this post, I was like 86.8756% certain I'd be dropping this series after closing this comic book up. Instead I'm almost positive I'll be forced to pick up at least another issue, as I REALLY want to see the Crazy Bruce/Hulk confrontation. Yeah sure, I have a pretty good idea of how the storyline will(probably) eventually end(look above at “The Bad” section!), but I still want to see Crazy Bruce and Hulk get in each other's faces. *sigh* Well, I guess I'll probably drop the Ultimates and keep this series... For now...

Score: 8 out of 10.Hulk no angry, Hulk sad...

Supergirl #4

Ah yes, Supergirl... This is a comic book that's been written well, has good art and everything, but doesn't have a lead character that's really overly appealing to me... This version of Supergirl just hasn't grabbed me yet, and three issues in, that's not a good sign. The writing team here has done a great job highlighting SG's plight, but hasn't made her exceptionally likable(or unlikable for that matter)... Oh well, let's get to this issue and see if that changes.

Supergirl #4:

What Happened: A guard on Tycho's space station takes pity on Supergirl and releases her from the Kryptonite room she had been locked in. With cameras everywhere, Tycho realizes what had happened and before the guard could reach the escape pods, Tycho and his security detail appear in front of SG and the guard. Tycho has the guard killed, which infuriates SG since he was the only person to show her kindness since coming to Earth. Tycho orders his guards to recapture SG, but being away from the Kryptonite, and being so near the sun helps her power back up and trounce Tycho's goons. Tycho retreats to his control room and when SG arrives, he shows her a Sunstone that had been found in the pod she arrived on Earth with. Tycho offers SG the Sunstone in exchange for a single drop of her blood, but SG can't understand a word he is saying and blasts a hole through the floor, hitting the central core of the space station. With Tycho distracted, SG rushes over and grabs the Sunstone before exiting the station, confident the people inside would manage to escape via the escape pods. However, Tycho stays behind in a desperate attempt to repair the damage and ends up blowing up with the station. Outside, SG realizes that the Sunstone had been damaged in the struggle, and wonders what to do next. This issue ends with Tycho, now just a head and torso, but alive due to his people and his wacky science experiments, spotting some of SG's blood on the shirt of one of his men and realizing that he got what he wanted after all.

The Good: Again, the story and art was strong. We got a tiny little bit of character development with SG, as she saw that not all humans were evil and out to harm her. Tycho stole the show again, and I have to admit that I'm happy to see that he's still alive. Now just clone him a Kryptonian body and we're set.

The Bad: SG still doesn't understand any language except Kryptonian, and has no idea what to do with herself from here. While the sense of confusion has been perfectly executed these past 4 issues, we still haven't gotten much character development for SG. Is she virtuous like Superman or is she borderline psychotic like Superboy? We still don't know.

The Verdict: It's funny, I can pretty much pencil in a score of an 8 or higher before I even open an issue of this series, and yet I'm still considering dropping the title... After reading this issue, I can say I will definitely be sticking around for issue #5, but past that? Who knows. That's probably the biggest negative for DC concerning their reboot... It's SO damn easy to drop a series. Pre-reboot, I'd be more willing to stick it out with a series since the characters were more developed due to DC's long history. But post-reboot, since DC threw away it's history and started from scratch(pretty much), I just don't have that same bond with any of the characters...

Score: 8 out of 10.HA! He said, “HA!”

Thunderbolts #167

First review for this Monday? The Thunderbolts. I've been enjoying the evil Thunderbolts trip through time, and I'm hoping this issue will be as good as the prior few have been.

Thunderbolts #167:

What Happened: We discover right away that Satana had been trapped by some evil spirits that had taken to hiding in the bodies of London's streetwalkers back in the 1880's. That is the reason Hyde has been killing prostitutes, to free Satana from the spirits. The evil T-Bolts attack the spirits, allowing Satana to break free of their spell, which results in Satana eating the souls of all but three of the spirits in retribution. The following night, Boomerang and Satana dress up as locals and manage to hire the still possessed hookers, taking them to a room where Satana eats the souls of all but one of the spirits, telling Boomerang that he had to kill the final woman Jack the Ripper style in order to keep the past intact. Boomerang reluctantly and angrily does as he's told, and Centurius reveals that the Thunderbolts must have actually been Jack the Ripper, thus explaining why he was never caught. With that, the evil T-Bolts fire up their base and end up catapulting even further back in time, winding up during the days of Camelot. Besides that, Luke Cage, Songbird and Valkyrie manage to open up a connection to Troll's battle ax just long enough for Ghost to secretly teleport to the evil Thunderbolts.

The Good: Satana eating the spirits souls was fun. It was nice to see that the good Thunderbolts in the present were still trying to track down their evil counterparts.

The Bad: The Thunderbolts were Jack the Ripper? Lame. The way this story turned out really bugged me... I'm not sure what it was, but the evil T-Bolts being Jack the Ripper just sort of bothered me... I'm not looking forward to the evil T-Bolts going further back in English history... Couldn't they have gone to Greece or Rome or hell, the Ottoman Empire or something instead of England again?

The Verdict: Eh, I didn't like this one. The Thunderbolts as Jack the Ripper reveal really annoyed me, to the point where I didn't enjoy this story in the least. Claiming the Ripper's victims were possessed by evil spirits, thus explaining their fate just seemed... wrong to me...

Score: 4 out of 10.Damned zombie heads!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Fear Itself: The Fearless #5

Last review of the night is the continuation of the Fear Itself story... The more I think about this mini-series, I can't help but wonder, what exactly is the endgame here? Does Sin get her powers back? And if she does, then what? She'd be too powerful to be in Captain America's rogue's gallery, meaning I guess she'd end up facing the Avengers? I'm just not quite sure where this is all going... Eh, maybe we'll find out some more in this issue.

Fear Itself: The Fearless #5(of 12):

What Happened: The Thing reveals to Valkyrie that he allowed her to bypass the Baxter Building's defenses because he WANTED her to take the hammer he wielded during Fear Itself away, since he didn't want to fall under it's sway again. Valeria wanders over and helps the two free the hammer from the vault Mr. Fantastic locked it in(because god knows you CAN'T have a comic book featuring a member of the FF without Valeria showing up...), at which time Valkyrie leaves with said hammer. Meanwhile, Crossbones and some of the DOA attack the Vault to get the hammer that was being held there. Instead of securing it inside, Luke Cage makes the idiotic decision to bring the hammer into the battle, allowing Crossbones to knock Luke down with some magic before making good his escape with the hammer. This issue ends with Sin revealing that she intended to power one of the Red Skull's old Sleeper robots with the hammers... Really?!

The Good: I liked that we didn't get the obligatory Thing/Valkyrie fight in this one... Thing simply wanting her to take the hammer away made sense considering all of the terrible things it made him do... Although it does make Mr. Fantastic look like quite the ass for keeping something that was obviously disturbing Ben at the Baxter Building... As usual, the art was good.

The Bad: Sadly, most of the rest of this comic... The flashback in the beginning wasn't worth mentioning(which is why I didn't mention it!). The battle between the Thunderbolts and the Raft's staff and Crossbones and company was just plain bizarre... Why in the world would Luke Cage bring the hammer right TO Crossbones?! That was just horrible strategy! I hope I misunderstood the ending of this one(which is possible), because if the endgame here is for Sin to power up a giant robot with the hammers, that's just about the worst end to this mini that I could think of...

The Verdict: I can't say I liked this one much at all... The issues prior to this one were actually pretty good, but this particular issue just didn't do it for me. Between the stupid battle strategies, Valeria popping up to save the day(as usual...), and Sin powering up a giant robot, this one failed for me... Hopefully next issue we get back on track again.

Score: 5 1/2 out of 10.Oh look, it's Valeria! If there's a problem, you KNOW it's getting solved now!

Hellblazer #286

Huh, this isn't exactly what I'd call a very Christmas-y sort of comic... Oh well, that's the way the new comic pile shook out, so here comes a very Constantine Christmas!

Hellblazer #286:

What Happened: We get started with Constantine destroying Tamsin's book of demons as a way of telling her to stay the hell away from his niece. From there Constantine learns from his father-in-law(and all around scumbag), Terry Greaves, that some mobster was sent over from New Jersey to murder Constantine as a result of Constantine accidentally killing two other mobsters from NJ. As for the mobster sent to whack Constantine? He is Toni Gisulfo, who is currently in possession of Constantine's possessed coat. Toni murders the coat's former owner(a girl named Georgie), and Constantine hears from his cabbie friend about a girl(Georgie) who was ranting about a possessed coat. Constantine heads to Georgie's place and is confronted by Toni and his angry coat. Constantine manages to sweet talk the coat, telling it he never intended to be separated from it, so it murders Toni and Constantine takes the coat back... Huh... Anyway, with the mob and coat business taken care of, Constantine and his wife return home and are horrified(disgusted?) to find Constantine's niece and his father-in-law having sex on their couch. Terry leaves and Constantine's niece tells him she only did it to hurt Constantine. Constantine's niece continues, telling him that if he went to Hell to see if her mother really belonged there she'd stop seeing Terry. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Constantine readies himself for a trip to Hell.

The Good: The parts with the coat were, as usual, great. Everybody around Constantine were portrayed perfectly scuzzy... His father-in-law, his niece, they were all just wonderfully horrible to Constantine. The end of this story and the promise of the next one has me excited for what's to come.

The Bad: I really hate Constantine's niece... If ANYBODY should end up in Hell, it's HER! The reconciliation between Constantine and his wayward coat seemed kind of anti-climatic. All of this build-up for Constantine to sweet talk the thing?!

The Verdict: Eh, this was a perfectly acceptable comic. Nothing more, nothing less. Oddly enough, even though it concluded a storyline, it seemed to spend more time setting up the next storyline. I was expecting major fireworks when Constantine met his coat again(there's a line I never thought I'd be typing...), but instead of fireworks we got sparklers. Oh well, maybe we'll get those fireworks come the next storyline.

Score: 7 out of 10.♫Reunited and it feels so good!♫

Invincible Iron Man #511

I managed to get the three reviews I'll be posting tonight finished up yesterday since I wasn't sure if I'd be able to post any new reviews today with it being Christmas and all... Am I a swell guy or what? Yeah, I know... “Or what”... Anyway, here's the first review of the night, the hopefully drawfless Iron Man.

Invincible Iron Man #511:

What Happened: Zeke Stane and the Mandarin notice that Iron Man's chest repulsor was damaged, and had remained damaged since Fear Itself ended, causing the two villains to think that they may have finally found a chink in Iron Man's armor... Literally. To take advantage of this they change up their original plans and send Living Lightning to attack Tony. Lightning catches up with Tony over Manhattan and the two battle, with Lightning focusing on Tony's damaged chest repulsor. Lightning manages to damage it more, causing several of Tony's systems to shutdown, which results in Tony crashing in the middle of Times Square. Meanwhile, Sasha Hammer takes over the Detroit Steel suit since she figured the original pilot was dead(he's not anymore thanks to Odin), Spymaster is told his time inside Stark Resilient was coming to an end and Bethany Cabe and Pepper Parks talk out their differences.

The Good: The fight scene between Iron Man and Living Lightning was well done. The cliffhanger was good. We finally seem to be getting towards the endgame with regards to who Spymaster was impersonating in Stark Resilient. I like Mandarin operating as a puppet master with not only Iron Man, but with his own cronies. It really helps show you the pecking order of Iron Man's enemies.

The Bad: I can't say anything all THAT interesting happened here... While it's good that we're getting towards the end of the Spymaster/Stark Resilient thing, I don't really care enough about anybody in the company to want to take a guess at who Spymaster has been impersonating. That damn dwarf was in this issue.

The Verdict: Meh. This was an okay comic, but that's all it was. I mean it killed a few minutes and all, but it's not something I'll look back on with warm, fuzzy memories.

Score: 6 1/2 out of 10.That's gonna leave a mark!

The obligatory Merry Christmas post!

Hey there X-Maniacs, X here to take a moment to wish everybody a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! So far today I've been spending time with family and was given an AWESOME haul of comics from my sister(a slew of old issues of Captain America and Dr. Strange from the 70's!), so here's hoping everybody else is having a great day. I won't be able to review anything tonight, BUT, I DID manage to type up a few extra reviews last night, which I've scheduled to post tonight! So that's what'll be coming down the proverbial chimney for all of you good boys and girls later on tonight. As for now, here's a Christmas-y comic scan, and I'm off! X out.If Marvel ever created a shirt like that? I'd buy SEVEN and wear them every day of the week!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Amazing Spider-Man #676

Um, I don't really have anything to say to introduce this issue... Excelsior!

Amazing Spider-Man #676:

What Happened: Dr. Octopus gets put in his new armored shell since his body had finally given out. With that taken care of he decides to attack MODOK's(!) Intelligencia. It appears the Intelligencia have created a weapon that could transport anything on Earth into Earth's orbit with a mere touch of a button. Octopus and his Sinister Six attack MODOK's base, and after a bit of a battle(including a battle of wits between MODOK and Octopus), Octopus and his forces win when he blasts all of MODOK's goons into space with the Intelligencia's own weapon. With that, Octopus makes MODOK call him the superior intellect, before Octopus and his Six destroy MODOK's base and weapon, since Octopus couldn't allow the Intelligencia to conquer the world in 2011 when Octopus had plans to conquer it in 2012!

The Good: I've always been a sucker for super-villain battles. They're always so much more fun(and rarer) than your basic hero vs villain or even hero vs hero fights. This issue went a long way in showing the Sinister Six as a major force to be reckoned with. MODOK showed up here!

The Bad: Yeah, sorry, but Spider-Man comic or no, there's NO way Octopus and his Six should have been able to defeat the Intelligencia. Nor should Octopus have been able to outwit MODOK. Octopus has always been smart, but he's not in that upper echelon of evil geniuses. A Spidey comic with NO Spidey?! Blasphemy!!

The Verdict: This comic was okay. I mean I liked the premise and all, but didn't enjoy the way it ended. For me, the wrong team won, and that can go a long way in souring the way you feel about a comic. A fan of Octopus and the Six would have enjoyed this comic because they won, but the Six utterly humbling the Intelligencia? I just don't think so...

Score: 7 out of 10.No way in hell Doc Ock is smarter than MODOK. No way.

Wolverine #20

So X-Factor got me back on track with a strong score. Now let's hope Wolverine continues the trend.

Wolverine #20:

What Happened: Kingpin meets up with the head of the Japanese Yakuza in Central Park to agree not to mess with each other's groups. Those two Canadian cannibals(the Buzzard Brothers) start killing Yakuza goons, at which time the head of the Yakuza figures Kingpin had double-crossed him. As luck would have it, Wolvie happened to be in the area and rushes over, attacking the Buzzards. He is soon assisted by a trio of women, the leader of the group being the thought to be dead Seraph. Wolvie and the women(Marvel's next new series title perhaps???) manage to take down the Buzzards while spiriting Kingpin and the Yakuza head away. After making sure the head of the Yakuza had safely made it onto his airplane back to Japan, Seraph tells Kingpin that one of her girls interrogated the Buzzards and they claimed to be working for ninjas... Kingpin denies any involvement with the Buzzards and is soon escorted away from Wolvie and company by his Hand ninjas. This issue ends with Sabretooth managing to murder the Yakuza head by throwing him out of his private jet.

The Good: Wolvie's battle with the Buzzards was energetic and fun. The cliffhanger was somewhat interesting. The art was good.

The Bad: Yay, Wolvie is trapped between the Yakuza and the Hand... *yawn* I just don't care about Wolvie's Asian adventures. They've always bored me to tears. Sabretooth's big return was spoiled for me, oddly enough, in Wolverine and the X-Men #3. I mean yeah, I'd heard he was coming back, but having him appear in two comics, the very same week as his first appearances since his return seemed kind of weird. Especially since Jason Aaron writes both series! Speaking of Sabretooth, I'd rather we learned HOW he came back(which I believe we will next issue) before seeing him...

The Verdict: What can I say, I didn't really like this issue... Nothing here did anything for me. Wolvie stuck in the middle of the Japanese mafia while they go to war with the Hand pretty much showcases all of the things I like the least about Wolverine's origin. Now we'll probably end up getting months and months of Wolvie and Yukio, his “daughter”, and people throwing the word “gaijin” around... Wake me when this storyline ends.

Score: 4 1/2 out of 10.I wish Kingpin would have busted out a ninja pose here as well...

X-Factor #229

Happy Christmas Eve everybody! Three comics on tap for tonight, all from Marvel. Thus far this week's comics have been rather underwhelming, so here's hoping things pick up a bit starting............. Now!

X-Factor #229:

What Happened: We finally learn more about that weird scene where we find Madrox standing over the corpses of himself and Layla on their wedding day. It appears that the moment Madrox died at the hands of Bloodbath, he somehow was transported to another dimension, one where he married Layla and Banshee hadn't died. Madrox ends up learning that it wasn't Wolfsbane who committed the murders, but her daughter(remember, in the 616 Marvel U Wolfsbane had a son), who killed Madrox and Layla at the behest of Layla herself(?!?). Wolfsbane's daughter goes to kill Madrox, since she figured she didn't properly kill him back with Layla, but Madrox manages to get away from Wolfsbane's daughter... Only to get run down and killed by a drunken Valerie Cooper... HA!! This issue closes with Madrox waking up near the corpse of another dead Madrox, this time in a apocalyptic looking world.

The Good: As always, Peter David can tell a good story AND manage to throw a couple of legit laughs in there. Val drunkenly running poor Madrox down really made me laugh for some reason... It just made perfect sense in an idiotic way... I THINK I can see Madrox's way out of this and back to his proper dimension already... The Layla who was killed was adamant about Wolfsbane's daughter killing her... Obviously THAT Layla KNEW 616 Madrox would be dying at the same time in the 616, and would somehow end up in her dimension. Is that uber-confusing? God yes... Especially the way I worded it! But I do now kind of/sort of see how Madrox is getting out of this one. I enjoyed the wedding reception and enjoyed seeing Quicksilver, Banshee, and yes, even Shatterstar with his early 90's look.

The Bad: I kind of hope that my theory isn't the way this story winds up heading, because that would make the next few issues as Madrox heads back home kind of anti-climatic for me... Drinking and driving is BAD, Valerie!!

The Verdict: I enjoyed this issue. I really did. The story was strong, the art matched it and as always, the dialogue was top-notch. No real complaints here.

Score: 8 out of 10.That panel with Madrox getting hit by the car and dupes flying everywhere was both horrible and hilarious!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Batman #4

Closing out this Friday night? The Batman! I always got a kick out of people calling him “The” Batman... That be like “The” Spider-Man! Or “The” Superman! Strangely enough, Bats is just egomaniacal enough to make “The” Batman work... Well, how's that for an odd introduction!?

Batman #4:

What Happened: The Batman manages to escape from the trap sprung by the Court of Owls last issue and heads back to the Batcave to lick his wounds and play with the skeletal remains of his dead great, great-grandfather. Alan Wayne(that would be the previously mentioned great, great-grandpappy) seemed to believe there was a Court of Owls running around Gotham, and after analyzing Alan's bones, Bats realizes that Alan had been tortured prior to his death, something that nobody picked up on back in the day. Nightwing stops by to see how Bats is doing, and Bats tells him a story about how as a child Bats looked into the Court of Owls, since baby Bats thought the Court had a hand in the deaths of his parents. After a long search that saw baby Bats get locked in an abandoned building for a week, baby Bats concluded there was no Court of Owls. Nightwing tells Bats that maybe he missed something as a kid, but Bats responds by stating that he had looked in on the Court of Owls rumors occasionally and never found any evidence. After finishing up his examination of Alan's bones, Bats heads to the sewers, which was where Alan's corpse was found and begins to look around. Unfortunately for Bats, that creepy owl guy(Talon I guess?) sneak attacks him and knocks him out cold. This issue ends with Bats waking up in a massive maze with a bunch of weirdos in owl masks watching him from a screen... Holy deathtrap, Batman!!

The Good: I still like the idea of a secret Court of Owls running around Gotham. The owls and Talon have really good villainous looks to them. The cliffhanger was interesting, as Bats finally comes face-to-face, in a manner of speaking, with the Court. I like Dick operating out of Gotham again since it gives him a reason to pop up in this series from time to time.

The Bad: I hate to say it, but this comic was pretty boring to me... The LONG story about baby Bats just didn't do it for me. And since that story made up a majority of this issue, that was bad news for me!

The Verdict: If you took out the middle 8-10 pages of this comic, it wasn't that bad. But I just never got into Bruce's flashback tale. I'm sure a lot of people enjoyed it, but for me it was just kind of time-wasting... But your opinion of this issue will definitely be decided on that flashback, so for me, this issue was a letdown.

Score: 5 1/2 out of 10.Look out, there's an owl behind you!!!