IMJ Capsule Reviews™ – All New Comic Book Reviews for the Week of 10.10.12!

Uncanny Avengers #1
New Union
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: John Cassaday

I think it’s time to shake things up, since Marvel Comics— in the very first week of Marvel Now!— already seem to be completely missing the mark with everything they’re attempting to accomplish with their new comics line. While I will definitely share my opinions on Uncanny Avengers #1 (Marvel Now’s flagship title), I also want to do something different– and share the experience I had with this comic book and my Dad.

My Dad turns 60 next month, which means he’s known a lot about these characters since their early days. He’s also the perfect audience for Marvel’s new comic launch, since he just sits back and experiences things purely for their entertainment value… With no judgments or preconceptions. He doesn’t wallow in the minutia us die-hard fans and reviewers often get sidetracked by. He either enjoys something or he doesn’t. For example, he actually enjoyed such movies as Ghost Rider and Daredevil because he thought they were fun. He doesn’t really care whether they strictly follow the source material or not.

Since Dad has really enjoyed all the Marvel Studios movies too– he also seems like he would be just the guy to love Marvel Now! comics. And that’s specifically why I bought Uncanny Avengers #1 for us to experience together… Because Dad hasn’t read a new Marvel book in at least 10 years, if not longer. (I’m not that far behind.)

So I hand Dad the comic and wait. Here’s what happens:

[Dad finishes Uncanny Avengers #1, closes the book]

Dad: What was that?
Me: Didn’t like it?
Dad: It’s…
Me: Well, there’s a reason I haven’t picked up a Marvel Comic in a while.
Dad: I strongly suggest you never do it again.

When a man who enjoys Ben Affleck as Matt Murdock says to never buy another Marvel Comic, I’m  suddenly not too enthused to read the book he just finished. When I do, I agree he kind of nailed my feelings with the “… strongly suggest…” comment. But because I don’t want to turn this into a two-paragraph review, I discussed the comic with Dad some more in hopes of discovering exactly what his problems were:

1) They took the “X” out of X-Men.

Like I mentioned, Dad hasn’t read a Marvel comic in a while– so he didn’t know Professor Xavier’s been pretty much out of the picture. Dad’s dissatisfaction with Xavier’s death begs the question: What change is good change in a comic?

What was the point of killing Xavier if a) It was meant purely to turn Cyclops into a hated mutant like Magneto and b) This major character’s death has no real effect on the rest of the Marvel Universe? Granted this is the first issue, but this is also Charles Xavier And all he gets is an inept eulogy from Wolverine? Having the least loquacious of the X-Men give Xavier’s tribute makes me think the Professor will definitely be resurrected within the next year or so… Making this event even more worthless.

2) If you don’t follow Captain America– who is the Red Skull? (If you don’t know, this comic doesn’t tell you.)

Something many publishers and editors forget (especially at Marvel): Number One Issues are supposed to be a comic’s ultimate jumping on point. When people see that #1 on a cover, they think they can come in cold and get introduced to the world and its characters in one issue. None of that happens here. This comic reads more like Issue #101.

Technically, you can wade into this book– but you better not be coming from the ground floor or you’ll be completely lost. This is one of the failures I believe Marvel prognosticated when their spokespeople kept insisting Marvel Now! is not a reboot or a new universe. (In other words, it’s just the same shit with a new name.) The ineptitude behind the entire concept’s execution astounds me– as this book held no wonder for even old fans like my Dad and myself… Let alone all those movie watchers Marvel wants to lasso.

3) Nothing happened in the book.

I’ve said it myself about any number of comics: Something has to happen in a story to make a book worth the read. There was no point to this issue except to reiterate Xavier is dead– and that is painfully clear in the first three pages. The rest felt like a crap story from my Intro to Creative Writing class from college.

My Dad had more thoughts, but I haven’t had a chance to talk with him about it since Wednesday. I think the above dialogue really says it all. If the main effort of Uncanny Avengers #1 was to lure readers back and grow new ones… To prove to the disenfranchised that Yes, it’s worth buying Marvel Comics again… Then this comic was a spectacular failure.

On a side note: Marvel, whatever money you are spending on the Augmented Reality junk you’re using to promote these comics– stop funding it. What a useless waste of time and resources– for crappy read-alongs of a comic (if you even remember to record the text) and the like. The “revealing” phone interview with Rick Remender about this comic just made me feel dumb for taking the time to listen. – W.D. Prescott

Marvel Universe vs The Avengers #1
Part 1: Powerless
Writer: Jonathan Maberry
Artists: Leandro Fernandez

I’m not going to deny that we love novelist Jonathan Maberry here. We do. He’s a columnist and a welcome member of the IMJ Nation™.

Relax… This is not where I butter the man up so I can say his new limited comic series stinks. I don’t have to. Mainly cause it’s really good. What I don’t understand: How Maberry can take, what is essentially the same comic book premise, and write a great, yet different story every time.* Other Marvel writers can’t do it (see the Marvel Zombies franchise for concrete proof). Yet here Maberry is again, with New York besieged by yet another virus/sickness that’s infecting people (and super people)– turning many into enthusiastic cannibals… And Maberry is able to put a big enough spin on the idea to make it still seem fresh and unusual.* (*Ed. Note – I’m actually wrong about this point! See the comment from Jonathan below– where he sets the record straight!)

Mind you, this is after Maberry has already written Marvel Universe vs Wolverine and Marvel Universe vs The Punisher— two other limited series revolving around almost the exact same ideas.

I especially love the opening scene in this comic: Maberry gives Hawkeye more character development in six pages than he’s had in SIXTY recent Avengers books. Maberry perfectly chronicles the purple Archer’s unyielding determination and huge sense of loss– making it the central focus of Marvel Universe vs Avengers #1. This engaging story also helps get the comic past a few rough spots… Mainly the overly simplistic art by Leandro Fernandez. I normally admire Fernandez’ style, but here it seems very rushed… Lacking the depth Maberry’s intricate and beautifully subtle writing brings to the narrative.

What a lot of us wish: That Marvel would give Maberry a regular superhero comic. Black Panther, Punisher, Daredevil, Captain America or Spider-Man… Maberry has proven over and over he has the knowledge and talent to do the job. Sure, Jonathan is known primarily for his horror but to seemingly regulate him to these yearly virus stories is short-sighted and near criminal.

Of course, I also might be talking out of my ass here.

I know how busy and in-demand Jonathan Maberry truly is. Maybe all he’s got to give is a limited comic series here and there. But if I were running Marvel, I’d do everything in my power to entice this man to give more of his creative time to the comic medium and I’d make it worth his while. That’s how much I think Marvel, Comic Books and the Fans need him. Hawkeye’s superb characterization alone gets 5 stars… But since I also have to consider the art and the overall package (I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the muted color job by Lee Loughridge), I’m left with a slightly lower rating. – Ian MacMillan

MacGyver #1
Fugitive Gauntlet
Writers: Lee David Zlotoff, Tony Lee
Artist: Will Sliney

When I saw MacGyver on this week’s shipping list, I did a major double-take. At first, I skimmed right passed it, but the name stuck in the back of my brain and I scrolled back up and reread the title like, 5 times. I think, “Is someone really publishing a MacGyver comic book… Or are my eyes just playing tricks?” Still in disbelief, I blink a few times and shake my head a little to get my bearings… And I look for a sixth time. To my delight, I wasn’t seeing things… Someone really did publish a MacGyver comic.

If having the name MacGyver on the cover of a comic book isn’t enough impetus to make this a must buy for you, then let me tell you something my friend– we are in different camps. Although I was only two years old when the MacGyver television series began, I am a huge fan. I got my fill of Richard Dean Anderson— not by watching one episode a week on ABC… But in the awesomeness that is television syndication (in this case, on the USA cable network). I was in 6th or 7th grade by then and I would rush home just in time to watch my favorite block of two-hour television: MacGyver and Knightrider… Every Monday through Friday without fail.

Both of these shows have lived on in syndication for a long time and just as many kids (and adults) fell in love with them the same way I did. I remember my brother and I sitting in our basement watching the show– tensely waiting to see how Mac was going to get out of whatever crazy situation the Phoenix Foundation put him in. When this new comic book hit my nostalgia button, I just knew I had to have it.

It doesn’t hurt that one of the book’s co-writers is the actual creator of the TV show. Bonus nostalgia points!

Cracking the comic, I see a letter addressed to MacGyver from an old Professor. This letter sets up the story. As I start to move forward, I feel like I’m missing something… I suddenly know I have to do one more thing before leaping into Mac’s first adventure in two decades. Immediately I yank open my lap top, head to YouTube and type “MacGyver Opening Theme” into the search bar. Third video from the top, I see exactly what I need and I push play.

After fully absorbing this musical blast from my past, I feel confident I’m now ready to dominate this new MacGyver comic. I blast through the issue– which is full of all kinds of cool things, like secret organizations trying to steal the cure to world hunger. I see Mac caught in yet another tight spot, blamed for murder. But somehow, with the help of his Swiss Army Knife, Mac gets out of every situation he encounters. It looks like we have an AWOL female Interpol Agent as the other main character– and by the end of the comic she’s the only one on Mac’s side. The adventure takes place in Kenya, so we get a true worldly vibe that you can only experience from MacGyver… Or someone like Indiana Jones.

One of the more ridiculously fun moments involves a guy with an assault rifle– taken out by MacGyver when he discovers a flaming Bunsen burner laying on the ground next to a container of computer screen cleaner. He turns the combination into a massive flame thrower… Then uses jelly beans and the soot from the burner to somehow make a bomb that distracts all the bad guys… Allowing both he and the Interpol agent to make their escape.

Side Note #1: MacGyver’s professor looks just like George Lucas.

Side Note #2: You know how Sean Murphy draws all those lines on a person’s nose?

Well, you can tell he is having a big effect on today’s comic art. All the people in this comic also have those nose lines, and this is something I had never seen before I read Joe the Barbarian. Artist Will Sliney does a fine job on art– and I don’t think he’s ripping off Murphy, just influenced by him.

Not a bad start a to a new series at all. If you don’t have the same connection to the source material I have, this may not be an essential comic for you… But trust me when I say there’s plenty of cheese and fun to be had here. MacGyver is not a “deep thinker” kind of book… But man, it’s fun to read a comic that exactly mimics one my favorite old TV shows. – Tom Devine

Red She-Hulk #58
Hell Hath No Fury
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artists: Carlo Pagulayan,
Wellington Alves

It is now October and that means that Marvel is unleashing their NOW! (Don’t you dare call it a reboot!) campaign upon the American comic industry… Whether we want it or not. (Hint: Most of us don’t.) I know the big book this week is Uncanny Avengers #1– but after the last couple of weeks, I feel the need to take a break from anything related to the X-Men or Avengers. I wanted to get as far away as possible from the shit floating up top, so I’m slumming it in Marvel’s 3rd tier titles for this review.

It’s no secret I believe the Red Hulk is not only one of the worst characters ever created, but his book also has the distinguished privilege of containing one of the worst runs I have ever read in my entire life. It was so terrible that when one of my favorite writers, Jeff Parker, took over the title– I just couldn’t bring myself to buy it. I have heard good things about Parker’s run but the stench of Jeph Loeb still hung heavy over the book, so I stayed away.

Thanks to Marvel NOW! needlessly shaking things up, Red Hulk is no longer the star of his own comic. Actually, they’ve even renamed his title Red She-Hulkwhile keeping the old title’s numbering. (*Sigh…*) The Red Hulk is gone but since Jeff Parker is still writing it, I thought I’d check it out.

This turns out not to be a good idea on my part.

There are two things both of the comics I am reviewing this week have in common: I really, truly wanted to like them and I walked away totally disappointed by both. Of the two, Red She-Hulk disappointed me the most.

Red She-Hulk #58 is the most mediocre Jeff Parker comic I have ever read. The book is so completely unoriginal, I actually have a very difficult time believing Parker wrote it. There is nothing fun here– no witty dialogue, no characterization… Nothing remotely interesting. The story is so cliché ridden, it borders on having a paint-by-numbers feeling about it. Sure, there’s a lot of punching (expected in a comic with the word “Hulk” in the title) but it all amounted to an issue full of sound and fury, signifying absolutely nothing.

Among the tired story elements were the following:

– The military puts on a demonstration of “new weapons”, in hopes of getting some monetary backing for the project.

– The “new weapons” are actually regular people who have been given superhuman abilities.

– Something goes unexpectedly wrong during the demonstration. Oops.

– It turns out that some of the people being given superhuman powers are convicts. (If not all… Don’t really know yet.)

– One of the convicts about to be given powers– a sex offender– forcefully grabs a female scientist and talks about sexually assaulting her… Speaking in not-so-subtle innuendo. You know, so readers understand that he really is a bad guy.

Now, I need to be clear: I’m not remotely surprised to be reading this kind of uninspired drivel in a Marvel Comic… But I am surprised to be reading it in a Jeff Parker written comic. Parker is above this sort of nonsense… And it feels as if he is purposefully changing his style and writing down to a lowest common denominator in his audience.

Yes, She-Hulk is a bad ass in this comic and uses her intelligence (not just her physical strength) to get out of predicaments… But it is all written in the most basic way possible. The whole book comes off as shallow– just another superhero comic with lots of face punching. There is no substance to the story. It’s all about getting from Point A to Point B in the most basic Marvel Ways possible.

I really hope there’s a behind the scenes reason why this issue is so blah. I’ve seen too many good writers lose their way writing for Marvel. I do not want Jeff Parker to be yet another case of that. – Jose Melendez

Batgirl #13
A Blade of Memory
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Ed Benes

I wouldn’t say I’ve been “white knighting” this series for the last year, but like many other things that are supposed to entertain me– I’ve given this comic a lot of chances.

Last month’s Batgirl #0 did more for Barbara Gordon’s character development than the last two or three story arcs combined– so I hoped the conclusion of the this storyline would be a good and decent lead-in to the Death of the Family event. (Batgirl #13 was supposed to be a prologue to this crossover.)

I will freely admit this comic was bad enough that even I think it’s worth leaving the series over. The latest storyline deals with a new villain named Knightfall (Wait, wait… Don’t comment yet, it gets way worse!), who’s basically the evil Batgirl. But instead of sporting a snappy Van Dyke beard like a Mirror, Mirror Mr. Spock, you can tell Knightfall is bad because she’s… Blonde?

Despite the horribly repetitive choice in villain name, the true travesty in Batgirl #13 is the weird wholesale switch in character during the story– almost as if the Editor telephoned and said, “You’ve gotta start making Batgirl act like so-and-so.” Up to this point, Gail Simone has been doing a decent job of showing Barbara Gordon trying to become a hero again– while also attempting to deal with the emotional weight of being previously shot/paralyzed by the Joker. But in this arc (especially this issue and the previous one), confident but cautious Barbara is gone– replaced by some woman more akin in temperament to a female Damian Wayne.

Don’t ask me how/why this happens. Ask Simone. I just read the things.

Starting the issue with a fight sequence, Simone unnecessarily complicates things by adding a stunted villain monologue– which basically explains Knightfall’s entire origin with several caption boxes. The words reek of any hammy villain feeling the need to lord over a hero by recounting his/her life story. Hasn’t everyone from Doctor Who to The Incredibles made enough fun of this stereotypical storytelling technique to get writers like Simone to stop using it? If Knightfall is going to be recurring character (which I’m sure she is), is there no way for her origin to be explained dramatically and forcefully over time… You know, like comics used to do for decades?

Let’s not forget, Batgirl #13 was supposed to be the prologue to an event. It says so right on the crappy die-cut cover. (Come on, DC! These things were cheesy even back in the 90s– with the start of the Reign of Supermen comics.) But there was only one page devoted to the Death of a Family event– hardly a prologue to anything. To be honest, I think the page was added because DC thought they could boost sales and didn’t want Batman to be the only comic with the stupid cut-out cover on the shelves this month.

I want to exclaim this loud and clear: You do not need to read this comic to get ready for Death of the Family. To be blunt, I’m not sure anyone needs to read this series at all anymore… Especially if we’re going to continue to get comics featuring splash pages cut up into panels to simulate motion– when, in fact, all the little panels do is perfectly frame the villain’s vagina. – W.D. Prescott

Scarlet Spider #10
Minimum Carnage Part Two
Writer: Christopher Yost
Artists: Khoi Pham, Reilly Brown,
Tom Palmer, Chris Sotomayor

I’m reviewing this title primarily because I wanted to see if I was wrong when I thought Scarlet Spider #9 came off as bland, rehashed superhero crap last month.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t wrong. Wish I was but…

Scarlet Spider #10 is Part 2 of the Minimum Carnage saga– a crossover “event” envisioned by Cullen Bunn and Christopher Yost. This issue is written by Yost… With the neat idea of exploring Marvel’s Microverse giving the title a little boost over the previous issue’s predictability– but not by much.

The story begins with yet another ho-hum confrontation between heroes (this is a Marvel comic after all). With Carnage transported to the Microverse, Flash Thompson/Venom and Kaine/Scarlet Spider apparently have nothing better to do than fight each other. Here’s what’s crazy: This boring battle lasts SEVEN pages.

When tempers calm, Scarlet Spider refuses to join Venom in his quest to go after Carnage. Then, just as inexplicably, decides he will go. I’ve recognized this dull pattern after only reading 2 issues: Spider bitches that something isn’t his responsibility, then begrudgingly agrees to help. (SS is a rebel, remember?) Wasting valuable comic book space repeating yourself, Mr. Yost? The answer is a loud and rowdy “Yes!” Yost is also wasting my money. I will review the next Venom issue– but only for strict comparison purposes.

For people wondering about the art: Reilly Brown helps series regular Khoi Pham pencil this issue. Brown seems to be the better penciler. So, of course, Pham is back for the entire issue next time.

Go figure. – Ian MacMillan

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #13
Rotworld: Secrets of the Dead –
Victor’s Spoils
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artists: Alberto Ponticelli,
Wayne Faucher

Did anyone else reading this comic become as confused as I did? I know I stopped this series in the middle of the second story arc… And I know these are current comics, so there’s no frigging way the book will be new reader friendly… But this is also the start of a three issue tie-in with the Rotworld event, so shouldn’t it at least be somewhat accessible?

Character-wise, I would say it is. If you’ve never read an issue of Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E., you could easily understand and enjoy the characters populating this comic.

But what the hell happened to the story? It felt like pages were missing, especially knowing from Animal Man and Swamp Thing that this whole Rotworld thing is happening a year ahead of all other DC comics. (Way to keep your New 52 Universe simple and easy to follow DC!) But this comic starts (I assume) where Issue #12 ended– and yet there seems like there’s been no lapse in time. It could be a day later for all I can tell. I certainly don’t understand how the world went to shit in the time it took a whale monster to surface.

I’m going to sound like a broken record, but nothing happened in this comic. All I got was Victor Frankenstein’s reasoning for joining the Rot. Other than that, the book had nothing but Frank slaughtering Rot creatures in very unspectacular fashion. The monotone color palette used for all things Rotty kept every moment from having any emotional or visual punch. And if I ever see another horse in a city during a zombie apocalypse (because that’s all Rotworld is– a zombie apocalypse), it’ll be too soon.

This issue helps prove the Rotworld event is the death of the DC Dark comic line. – W.D. Prescott

Wolverine #314
Covenant Part 1
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artists: Paul Pelletier, David Meikis

After the debacle described in J.’s review of Wolverine #313, I just had to read this issue– since Cullen (Venom) Bunn was back on writing chores.

Wolverine seems to be the book Marvel sends writers new to the company to work on. I’m not sure whether it’s to break their indie spirit or to give them a platform on a comic that’s widely read (but no one seems to expect much out of creatively). In either case, Bunn wrote several issues before Jeph Loeb came along to take a four issue shit on the title… And I wanted to see if this was the Marvel Comic that finally broke the indie writer’s creative drive.

It doesn’t come close.

But this is Wolverine… And given the extreme miles Logan has traveled over the years, there’s only so much that can be done with (or to) this character. That said, Bunn likes his horror. Not in-your-face slasher shit (there’s enough of that in Wolverine comics already). Bunn likes elegant horror that both intrigues and forms a sense of wonder. These elements are all over his excellent creator-owned The Sixth Gun… And he’s decided to edge it into Wolverine too. (If Bunn’s also used horror elements before Issue #314, I apologize to long-time Wolverine fans– as I have not yet read his earlier work on the title.)

Like many of his predecessors– who realize there’s very few places to take this woefully overexposed character– Bunn brings up secret foes from Wolvie’s past… That have now reared their ugly heads to bedevil the X-Man again. But unlike many of these heretofore unknown goons, Bunn takes the time to flesh out the back story… Making the reader believe this group might truly be part of Wolverine’s history. The way the story is meticulously fashioned, you actually begin to understand why you’ve never heard of them either. (At least, I’ve never heard of them.)

With a significant part of the comic set in 1934, this Wolverine story has a lot more in common with The Sixth Gun… And that’s very good. Paul Pelletier’s art is very moody and expressive. He draws Wolverine in more of a thuggish, Cro-magnon way. I like it when artists portray Logan like this. He looks more like the weapon he is and less like a dashing Hugh Jackman— who might break into a Broadway show tune at a moment’s notice. – Ian MacMillan

Halloween Eve One-Shot
Writer: Brandon Montclare
Artist: Amy Reeder

I am not really a fan of Halloween festivities. I have rarely participated by dressing up in costume… Actually, I quite despise doing so. I think this stems from Kindergarten, when I was walking home from school while wearing a Batman costume– and a group of high-schoolers drove by in a car and pelted me with eggs. I wish I were kidding, but sadly I’m not. Having said that, I do love horror films and can appreciate comics written about the holiday.

Still, I did not choose to review Halloween Eve because of some affinity for the holiday. I chose to review it because Amy Reeder was supplying pencil art for the book. Well, it turns out Reeder not only did the penciling for this one-shot, but she also supplied the inks, color and lettering as well. It really does come across from the art that this is a labor of love for Reeder. Her art here is fun– and more beautiful than ever. If this comic consisted of nothing but art I would be inclined to give it a four star rating. That’s how strongly I feel about Amy Reeder’s work inside. But the writing– the one element where Reeder’s name isn’t attached– causes this comic to ultimately fail.

The dialogue is really quite shallow. Words are spoken but nothing is really being said. At first, I liked the fact that main protagonist Eve didn’t like Halloween. She thinks dressing up is kinda idiotic. (I feel the same way.) For the briefest of seconds, I felt a connection to her character… But then her dialogue for the rest of the book really made me dislike her. I do recognize having Eve working at a Halloween shop– while absolutely disliking the holiday– could lead to something interesting story-wise… But the narrative never really gets there. She just comes off as utterly unlikable and a bit full of herself.

The part that bothered me most about the writing: The character arc in place for Eve is stilted. At the beginning we see why she hates Halloween. Then, at the end, we see how she comes to understand why people love it so much. Eve herself comes to enjoy it as well… Except there’s absolutely no bridge to her arc. This again relates back to the dialogue written for the character. There were a couple of times I became confused with what was going on. Eve’s attitude toward certain situations and characters flickered back and forth. It really did feel like a mess. Things were never coherent enough for me to grasp and care for the story or the characters.

The way the comic was written, I just didn’t buy what the creators were selling at the end. I think I’m most bothered by all of the wasted potential here. They had the beginning and end figured out, but not the middle. There are a handful of supporting characters but none of them come off as believable or important. They are hollow clichés wrapped in pretty Amy Reeder art. The writing needed to be stronger. The characterization needed to be more solid. Eve’s journey needed to be more believable.

There were two pages after the main story which laid out who all the characters in the comic were. It tells us their names, personalities and what function they play in the story. Except I got none of that from reading the actual story. All this stuff should have been in the comic, not in back matter. If the story had 3 times the amount of words inside, it still would have made for a light read. This is a comic desperately in need of substance.

I will still go out of my way to read and support whatever Amy Reeder goes on to do next, but I really hope the final product is more fulfilling read than Halloween Eve. – Jose Melendez

Deathstroke #13
The Most Dangerous Game
Plot: Rob Liefeld
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artists: Eduardo Pansica, Mariah Benes

Since W.D. Prescott likes to make confessions in his Screen Burn columns, I thought I’d make a confession here: I decided to read this book because of the final cover.

Locusmortis highlighted the original cover in his latest Previews Hits & Misses column– making the  funny joke that Deathstroke had apparently discovered Riverdance at the hands of Rob Liefeld. But when I took a look at this week’s comics, I immediately noticed DC Comics had changed the cover with another artist’s work (art on the new cover is by this issue’s penciler, Eduardo Panisca)… Even though they apparently had Liefeld’s cover art in-house for a long time. This must’ve been very much a last-minute switch– as even Comixology lists Liefeld as the cover artist in the credits on my iPad.

With Liefeld’s original cover gone, I wondered just how much DC would try to distance this issue from the guy, given the publisher and the “Artist/Writer” had recently just parted ways again. The answer: Given Liefeld is credited with penning Deathstroke #13’s plot… No one involved could run fast or far enough to distance themselves from Rob Liefeld’s unique form of a bullshit hackery.

Having been a writer for a long, long time though… I know that even though Mr. L wrote the plot, this doesn’t mean Joshua (Xenoholics, Voodoo and Subway Presents Justice League) Williamson has to mirror the hack’s previous attempts at crap dialogue.

Dance, Deathstroke, Dance!

Sure, Williamson may have had to follow the plot’s story points– but his dialogue and caption work is as bad as anything Liefeld could have conjured too. As a comics writer without a big DC or Marvel exclusive services contract, I can see how Williamson would gladly welcome the gig, the exposure and the money… But damn.

There’s nothing original here. For example, one caption has Deathstroke thinking, “It’s not just that I am the best at what I do…” WTF?!? I wonder where I’ve read this phrase a million times before… Is that line seriously the best you can do, Mr. Williamson?!

I have no idea what Williamson’s upbringing was like. I am sure he’s a nice guy and hopefully a better writer when not tied to a DC New 52 comic (especially one plotted by Rob Liefeld). But I will tell you this: The best writers in comics are like the best writers in any genre… They all go out and experience life and read all sorts of books– not just comics. I don’t know (but hope) Williamson falls into the former, rather than the latter category. I know he’s written a highly acclaimed children’s book called Dear Dracula. (So good, the Cartoon Network will premiere a one-hour animated special based on the book come October 16, 2012.)

What is it about these mainstream comic book companies that seem to deaden a writer’s soul and eviscerate their talent? (Feel free to tell me what you think below.) In the meantime, here’s my rating for this stinky piece of shit.
– Ian MacMillan

Team 7 #1
Black Diamond Probability
Mission One: Black Ops
Writer: Justin Jordan
Artists: Ron Frenz, Jesus Merino
and 4 other Inkers

Team 7 is a new title published by DC Comics. From what I can tell, it’s supposed to be the DC equivalent to Marvel’s ThunderboltsFeaturing a bunch of shady characters teamed together to get things done nobody else will do. It has some familiar characters like Deathstroke, Grifter and a younger New 52 Amanda Waller— but also involves a few people I didn’t recognize at all.

Grifter has been a favorite character of mine since Ed Brubaker worked on his comics a decade ago. When written correctly, Cole Cash can be a top-notch character. But he isn’t written well here. I will say his character seemed more distinct in this comic than in his Grifter solo title– but this is still not the quality interpretation I’m looking for.

Since this is a comic book about bad guys, of course nobody really gets along. The plot involves the team breaking into a massive floating prison called Facility 9, after the complex is taken over by bad guys. But instead of experiencing an awesome action book where Team 7 swoops in and takes care of business– I get a comic  with whiners who basically argue with each other the entire issue. Then, just when I think something cool is about to happen– the story is over.

There is seriously nothing in this issue worth giving a damn about. All the characters act like watered down versions of themselves. The convicts (and others) in the prison apparently turn into some sort of zombies with half-blue faces. You know a comic book script’s been phoned in when a superhero team assaulting a floating prison is somehow attacked by blue-faced zombies. What’s next, Mummies in Space?

It takes Team 7 three full pages to take out one zombie. But when the book ends, they’re facing thousands. This is a cliffhanger for sure, but one I’ve seen at least 10 million times. It seems DC has no problem publishing lackluster comics– including ones where the creators have put no effort or thought toward making sure their books are entertaining.

What really bothers me: Even though companies plan new comic book launches many months in advance, it’s very obvious the writer and artists threw Team 7 #1 together in a short amount of time. They tried hard to involve all the characters, but in doing so overreached– wasting much time with no real pay-off. I would’ve liked to see the comic concentrate on just a few team members and really build up who they are… Then, in subsequent issues– get to know the other players. But instead, all I got was a crappy story. The art is also a convoluted mess– but what do you expect when SIX guys are all working on drawing the same issue?

If I was 13 years old, had never really heard of Team 7 and hadn’t read too many comics– then this book would have been just fine. But that isn’t the market for this comic. Most fans are probably over 25 and know exactly what the “New 52” is– and all they want is a good comic book. We don’t need or want to be talked down to. We don’t need to see overused zombie bad guys… And we sure as hell don’t need a skinny Amanda Waller– looking fake like virtually every other female in the current DC Comic Universe.

But apparently these are the things DC thinks we want. Unfortunately for DC, they couldn’t be more wrong.

I wish I could tell you I found one redeeming quality in this book, but I couldn’t find anything. The art looks like it’s from the worst part of 1996 and the coloring is what I’m now calling “standard DC generic”. DC Comics has a chance to really push themselves to try new things whenever they publish a new book. Hell, they could even attempt something novel– like maybe trying to please their readers. But instead, we continue to get phoned-in scripts and art you can tell the artists don’t give two shits about.

I hope the next new #1 from DC is worth reading– because I can tell you this one is not. – Tom Devine

Animal Man #13 & Swamp Thing #13
Rotworld: The Red Kingdom Part 1
Rotworld: The Green Kingdom Part 1
Writers: Jeff Lemire, Scott Snyder
Artists: Steve Pugh, Timothy Green II,
Joseph Silver, Yanick Paquette

There’s a reason I’m putting these two issues together (and I promise it’s not to make Ian’s life harder). After both Animal Man #12 and Swamp Thing #12 were structured as true crossovers (i.e., you had to read one comic before the other… And both were prologues to the crossover story we’ve all been waiting to read since Issue #3 of both titles)… I really thought the rest of the Rotworld comics would have a somewhat similar format going forward.

What I didn’t expect: To get the same story in two different comic books.

It wasn’t a continuing story where one part followed another. It was the exact same story— nearly word for word.

I don’t know if it was Jeff Lemire, Scott Snyder or a DC Exec high on Meth (or some combination of all three) who thought these repetitive plots would be a good idea– but this is about as terrible an idea as Superior Spider-Man.

I seriously want to know if someone at DC is just trying to “punk” us comic fans– because these books are bullshit. I also want to know who conned Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire into thinking they’d already accrued so much goodwill (in a few short years) that they actually believed their rather nascent reputations could survive such an abysmal stunt?

What is the point of having the same story— where the only difference is the cast? None of the characters influence the outcome of either tale. (They might as well be any of the people my nephew draws in his Kindergarten class). To top it off, these two wholly repetitive comics came out the same week.

This is the story fans have been waiting nearly a year to read… Two comics with the same narrative? Do you really think we’re that stupid, DC?

To make matters worse… Again… NOTHING HAPPENS in either book! Characters reappear after being gone a year in The Rot. Zombie apocalypse teams find Buddy and Alec and want to kill them… Blaming Animal Man and Swamp Thing for the world going to shit. (Meanwhile, we get flashbacks showing both their families are dead.)

We don’t even have an inciting incident to move us onto the next issue. All comics– whether they be part of an event or just a regular series arc– need to give readers a reason to need to read the next issue. All we have here is “The world is shit, oh well.” Then Buddy and Alec have to tough it out.

These two comics, despite both experiencing problems in their first twelve issues, have still been among the better comics in DC’s New 52. This inanity, however, effectively puts them in the same league as Team 7 or Deathstroke. These comics were supposed to make me want to read the next 4 issues of the Rotworld storyline. All they did was make me never want to read these books again. – W.D. Prescott

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35 Responses to IMJ Capsule Reviews™ – All New Comic Book Reviews for the Week of 10.10.12!

  1. Locusmortis says:

    I wonder did anyone at DC see my Previews column lol.

    And I jumped off the Rotworld bus around issue 11/12 of the respective titles so I thankfully have “missed out” on the issues reviewed here. The thing is, both titles started off well and the Rotworld thing is a pretty good concept but it isn’t strong enough for the interminable way that they’re telling the story. Everything is dragged out to the nth degree in a display of decompression that would impress Brian Bendis.

    • tomstewdevine says:

      Your Reviews column is one of my favorite on the site. And you are usually spot on. Rotworld suck, I dropped both the titles.

    • Insideman says:

      I know more than a dozen DC pros that read IMJ regularly, LM… Unfortunately, the one who should read it (First name starts with an “R” and ends in “B”) probably doesn’t it. 😉

      • Locusmortis says:

        Seriously? haha…..*looks at this months half-finished Previews column*….I should really be a bit less scathing about DC this month I guess!

        • Insideman says:

          There’s a ton of Pros reading this site.

          Don’t worry though… Most of them are professionals of quality. They can handle any heat we can dish out. 🙂

          • tomstewdevine says:

            Ya, Sean Murphy replied back to a tweet I sent him about these reviews. He said that he has been seeing the nose lines a lot more too, he said a little too much, but he also stated that Sienkiewicz and Leinil Yu have done the nose lines in the past.
            He’s right they have, just not quite like he does.

  2. Just to clarify…MARVEL UNIVERSE VS THE AVENGERS isn’t ‘similar’ to the PUNISHER and WOLVERINE miniseries…it’s a continuation of it. Each 4-issu miniseries takes a look at that catastrophe from a different point of view (Punisher, Wolverine, and Hawkeye), and tells a different part of a much larger story.

    • Insideman says:

      Jonathan– Thanks for taking a moment to set me straight. Now that I think about it, that’s exactly what you are doing. My apologies for not recognizing or figuring it out before I wrote the review.

      My head gets stuffed with so much info nowadays, the BACK OF MY HEAD knew what you’ve noted– especially when the comic got to the scene (that was wonderfully raw and very climactic) between Punisher and Captain America (from the Marvel Universe Vs Punisher series).

      I knew I had seen that exact scene before and should’ve guessed that you were attacking the bigger problem from a different angle. Big UPS to you for making those KEY moments the same, yet feel so VERY different… That my feeble mind thought you were doing a variation– instead of a continuation– of a basic premise. (Like I said in the review, you NAILED Hawkeye to a “T’– better than anybody in years– in just SIX pages.)

      Which begs the question… Could you give us the scoop– and tell us if you have any more hero angles planned for this opus? We’re all dying to know! (Sorry about that too– I know these kinds of things can be privileged information.)

      But now you’re going to make me go back and re-read Marvel Universe vs Wolverine and Marvel Universe vs The Punisher… And I barely have time to read any of the NEW books I buy every week!

      Things could be a lot worse, though… I’ll be happy to re-read your books or comics anytime… Especially to get things correct. 🙂

  3. ed2962 says:

    I read Uncanny Avengers cuz i like Cassady as an artist and I respect Remender as a writer. I didn’t hate it, but I did think it was very mediocre. The best part of of the issue was the weird bad guys near the end, one of them is a goat faced girl, and that sorta made me laugh. But definitely the biggest problem was the drawn out wrap up of AVX. If you weren’t already familar with the outcomes of the last few years worth of summer event comics, there’s no way a new reader could get involved in this story.

    MacGyver! I haven’t watched it in years, but yea…MacGyver. By the way, doesn’t Top Cow still have the rights to The A-Team? I’m surprised they haven’t attempted an ongoing with that franchise.

    I’m a little disappointed that Halloween Eve didn’t live up to expectations. Even if the story isn’t great would you say it’s still worth it for Reeder’s art?

    Obligatory Rob Leifeld jab: Zealot has no calves!

    Yeah, I gotta admit I jumped off the Rotworld thing. Just way too much stalling and trending water with the story.

    Looking forward to the next column!

    • J. says:

      I would say Halloween Eve is worth it just for the Reeder art.

    • The only reason I stuck to the Rotworld thing was they promised it and I’m stubborn enough to to stay till I get what I was promised, then I’m gone.

      Uncanny Avengers was just that, an AvX epilogue, which was a horrible way to get people introduced and interested in their comics.

      • Insideman says:

        W.D.– As you know, I was going to review Uncanny Avengers #1. When I know someone else has already reviewed a book I’m reviewing– I normally stay far away from their review. But then, after exhausting myself with 4 other reviews… I snuck a peek at yours and said, “Well, Hell… That’s what I was going to say.”

        Your interaction with your Dad was much more fun than anything I could ever come up with. 😀

        You should be happy you’ve got a Dad to share your hobby with. My Dad only stopped making fun of comics (calling them “gomics”) until the movie cash started piling up. See those huge box-office grosses caused him to look at me one day and say, “Damn, son. All these years you were absolutely right. I never would’ve believe it… But comics are a movie goldmine now.”

        Yes, Dad. Yes, they are.

  4. Pingback: IMJ Capsule Reviews™ – All New Comic Book Reviews for the Week of 10.10.12! | Phylactery of Nightmares & Dreams

  5. wwayne says:

    Yesterday DC announced that 4 titles are ending with the 16th issue:
    Blue Beetle
    Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E.
    Grifter
    Legion Lost
    2 of them will be replaced with a JL spinoff and a new Superman title (it’s so ironic that DC replaced C-list titles with A-list ones, like when they replaced Mr. Terrific and Men of War with Earth 2 and Batman Inc). The other 2 replacements are an enigma. What do you predict?

    • Locusmortis says:

      I would love to see Mike Grell writing and drawing Warlord again but that would probably be unlikely. I heard that they’re doing a space-based team book with Blue Beetle on the team. Personally I’d like to see a return of L.E.G.I.O.N or R.E.B.E.L.S but again that may be unlikely at this stage.

      • wwayne says:

        I will always be thankful to Mike Grell for giving us Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters.
        It seems that Blue Beetle will be a recurring character of Threshold.
        I would like R.E.B.E.L.S. to come back as well: a comic book starring Lobo will always worth 2,99 $ for me.
        Thank you for your reply! : )

    • Really not surprised with the Frank cancelation. They basically killed everyone off i nthe last issue that it will be hard to kept the series going after Rotworld.

      If I were to be perfectly honest. I kind wish they wouldn’t replace the comics. I’d rather they take the effort to add 4 new comics to the line and give that to existing comics that could use them.

    • Insideman says:

      As much as I had high hopes for it, I think the DC reboot (NEW 52) has been a MASSIVE failure.

      Now they rotate out previously cancelled titles with titles/characters that have been previously cancelled. How do they think THAT’S going to work out? Sadly, they don’t understand one major point: All the books they have released so far would have ALL succeeded (with ZERO cancellations) if only they had attempted to make better comics. To reboot/relaunch the entire line– letting go of all the massive history and goodwill built up over 70+ years– and replace it with this disjointed, poorly developed New 52 crap is about as short-sighted a move as I’ve ever seen in comics.

      Why bother with all this, if you weren’t going to publish your BEST?

      I was just telling J. on the phone yesterday that it used to be (just 2 years ago), you could pick up a lot of DC books blindly and have much more than half a chance to be reasonably entertained.

      The reboot makes DC far more like Marvel than they’ll ever know. Like the majority of Marvel comics, DC’s books are becoming more and more joyless… And therefore unreadable in my eyes.

      • Blanchard says:

        Superman has been the most depressing for me. After New Krypton, Grounded, and Reign of Doomsday, I was really hoping for a good Superman story with the new 52. And has much as it pains me to say, Morrison’s Action Comics isn’t really doing it for me. And the Superman title is just a hot mess.

        I actually enjoyed the first volumes of Swamp Thing and Animal Man. If this is how Rotworld plays out, I think I’m going to cut my loses now and move on to other books.

        • As Superman fans, both my dad and I agree that the Superman comics aren’t that great, The high point was the Dan Jurgens run which wasn’t spectacular, but it wasn’t as bad at the other arcs so far. Supergirl is the only continually decent comic in the Superman family right now, but even that has some flaws too.

          • Blanchard says:

            The last time I read Supergirl was when Sterling Gates was writing the book. Despite all the New Krypton crap, I thought Gates had a good grasp on the character. A few people have told me that the New 52 Supergirl comic is good so I might check out the first trade.

            • J. says:

              Supergirl is one of the few DC books I still buy. I quite like it. I’m a big fan of the art.

            • definitely check out the trade. The is a plot hole in there that got in the way for me, but might not for others, but besides that the first arc is quite strong. If you like that, I don’t think it would be hard to find the rest of the back issues. At least around here it’s been one that has always had copies left over each month.

              • Locusmortis says:

                +1 on the Supergirl book, if DC had any sense they’d be giving writers Green and Johnson another book instead of the likes of Lobdell.

      • wwayne says:

        Thank you for your reply

      • at this point, I can only say the good thing that came out of it was Demon Knights. Everything else still feels like a continuation of the old universe, so why change it at all. After a year, I’m at the point where one wrong comic, I’m just going to stop buying and if I ever come back it will be digital and never release day unless it is spectacular.

        But as the cut out cover of Batman and Batgirl proved this week, DC is playing more of Marvels tricks despite all of us saying we hate them.

    • ed2962 says:

      I read that the Superman title will be by Scott Synder and Jim Lee. The Synder part has me intrigued, but the Lee part makes me think, “Well…”

      • Art has always been secondary to me, so Jim Lee doesn’t matter to me. Snyder, I think could go one of two ways: Really awesome like Batman or bad like Swamp Thing. I think Snyder has enough as the grand pooba batman writer, that giving him more work is more likely to be a negative influence on what ever comic he’s given.

        • ed2962 says:

          I normally like Jim Lee, but i saw what I assumed was promo art that looked like less than his normal standard. Then add his reputation for missing deadlines, that’s what made me slightly apprehensive.

      • wwayne says:

        Art has always been secondary to me too, and I like Jim Lee, as I like Snyder… but at present my narrow budget is completely covered by Animal Man, Nightwing and Team 7, so probably I won’t try Man of Steel. Thank you for your reply

  6. IronMuskrat says:

    Great reviews as always everyone..

    Don’t know what else I can add on the subject of Uncanny Avengers. I spent my $3.99 knowing that I would most likely not like the book, but I was really hoping for something, even a glimmer of those old X-Men/Avengers comic that I grew up reading as a kid. Sadly, that was not the case.

    The Good? The artwork was pretty good, although I think I’m in the minority when I say I prefer that the Red Skull’s head, not actually look like a red skull. Just me there.

    The Bad? I think everyone else has covered the bad stuff pretty well, I will just point out that if the best storyline they can come up with to start out this book is yet another variation on the old ‘bad guy tries to start a war between Humans and Mutants’ this book is in big trouble.

    The Ugly? Goat-Faced Girl of course, that chick is hideous!

    The Weird? How did Havok go from wearing street clothes on one page to wearing his fighting underoos on the next?

    OK, enough of that 😉

    I liked Halloween Eve, but it suffered from being a one-shot that was trying to do a little too much with limited space. I think the book lingered a bit too long in the store to start, and by the time things started getting good in Halloween land it was time to wrap things up. The ending seemed a bit rushed and as Jose said in his review, the added artwork/background story at the end of the comic just adds to the feeling that this book could have been a whole lot more. The artwork was very solid though.

    I also picked up Point of Impact this week, a very promising murder who done it. My big issue with this comic was the artwork was a little shaky at times. I really do like black and white art, but just because you doing a B/W book doesn’t mean you can get lazy and substitute huge swaths of black ink in lieu of details.

  7. wwayne says:

    “Locusmortis highlighted the original cover in his latest Previews Hits & Misses column– making the funny joke that Deathstroke had apparently discovered Riverdance at the hands of Rob Liefeld”: If you want to see some other crappy art, check this out: http://tessatechaitea.tumblr.com/post/33556854477/grifter-13. The interiors are so awful. Definitely the crappiest New 52 art I’ve seen so far. If you write Marat Mychaels on Google, you can see this is not his standard. Maybe he didn’t put much effort in it, because he knew Grifter was about to close anyway. But this would be an aggravating circumstance, because it would imply that he doesn’t have professionalism. When somebody gives you work, you must always give your best, no matter how much you’re paid for it or how important the series you work on is. Capullo, for example, always makes a wonderful job, both when he works a B – list Image title (Haunt) and an iconic comic book like Batman.

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