Uncanny Avengers #1
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?
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
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,
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-Hulk— while 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
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 –
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artists: Alberto Ponticelli,
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
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
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.
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 Thunderbolts… Featuring 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