All New Wolverine #12
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Ig Guara
One of the biggest successes of the All-New Wolverine series is how it has developed Laura as a character. She has grown up and become worthy of the Wolverine mantra she now dawns. Here we see some prime examples of that as she stands up to both Steve Rogers and Logan both physically and emotionally.
Civil War II has dealt a great deal with how to act when you know your own destiny. Although this story is approaching the question through different methods, as here it is due to Logan experience with the future rather than a premonition from an Inhuman, the concept remains the same. Unlike a lot of the Civil War tie-ins there was actual emotion involved. Laura was forced to confront the realization that this Logan is not the same person she once knew and that Gabby who has become somewhat of a surrogate little sister may actually lead to her downfall.
The full repercussions of this knowledge remains to be seen. For now though the way Tom Taylor wrote Laura’s dressing down of Logan was impressive. She was blunt in her critique of Logan’s behavior without coming off callous or ignorant. It is a moment like that will help grow that relationship further and strengthen this overall storyline going forward.
Amazing Spider-Man 18
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Amazing Spider-Man continues the series trend of setting the pieces for ‘Dead No More’. The progression of this story has been stagnant over the last few issues as each comic has shifted focus to a different story. Here we find out what Doc Oct has been up to since the end of Superior Spider-Man. Trapped in the Living Brain he has been slowly crafting a plan to recapture his humanity and now his time to act has come.
Reading Slott take on Doc Ock again was a treat. Elements of what made Superior Spider-Man so great seeped into this issue. The way he can both display Ock’s unparalleled arrogance but still make him somewhat sympathetic is impressive. My only gripe comes with the rush way these issues is resolves. More is to come later for sure, but I still wish we were able to see more of Ock dealing with life as the living brain.
In addition Giuseppe Camuncoli’s art is just phenomenal. In this issue he is even getting more experimental with his panel layout. His use a clock was a nice effect that amped up the tension.
There has been a lot of debate over Slott runs as a whole, but the buildup to ‘Dead No More’ continues to be solid.
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artist: Mike Perkins
Carnage #12 was a tale of two stories. One was well crafted the other was a mess. Seeing Cletus’s backround story through someone else’s forced eyes gave context to a character that has been rather one note since his creation. Cletus does not morph into a sympathetic character, but you do better understand what drove him to become the person he is today. Mike Perkins’s art was key as well to making that story work. The facial expressions he crafted we soaked in emotion.
The problem was any story element taking place during present day with either confusing, not compelling, or a combination of both. It starts with dialog eye rolling bad at times. At one point Eddie Brock literally states, “Nobody knows me” in one of the most hamfisted exchanges I have read in some time. Not making things better is how chaotic everything has become. At this point the major goals are lost in a sea of convoluted storytelling. They really need to slim things down to focus at the task at hand. Perhaps all this will come together in one epic conclusion, but my faith in that occurring is extremely slim.
Civil War II #5
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez
Right when I was started to say how pleasantly surprised I was about Civil War II issue five had to come along. Yes we get the epic battle sequence this concept promises. However, by bringing this debate into an actual physical altercation goes to prove how flimsy this entire plot concept has been. The further the scale of this conflict grows the shakier the story becomes. To the point in this issue the Guardians of the Galaxy show up with no true rhyme or reason. Bendis himself calls attention to the fact as Iron Man questions Pete Quills involvement, and even Bendis could not come up with a satisfactory reason to include them in this issue.
Yes there is great action. Watching Dr. Strange take on The X-Men and Blue Marvel facing off against Luke Cage was surely fun, but that fun goes by so quick with and no repercussion you realize you are witnessing nothing more than a glorified training exercise. The biggest issue is this argument has become stale. Five issues in now and the debate has yet to evolve past its initial premise. It’s like watching a political debate show with superheroes shouting the same things over and over.
It is depressing the story has been so problematic because David Marquez’s artwork is unquestionably jaw dropping impressive. He is doing career work here. Sadly it’s hard to fully enjoy it when the words on the page are not getting it done. I hope this issue is only a bump in the road and Bendis rights the ship in the next round. With all the delays this series has had he surely has had the time find a way to make this comic worth reading again that is for sure.
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Stuart Immonen
So far the Empress series has been a faced paced enjoyable space adventure full of exciting action and creative worlds. With the final issue coming next this issue slows things down to set the stage for the epic final conflict. A unintentional consequence slowing things down is the failures e overall series are much more evident. None of these characters have stood out as anything all that memorable. Considering it is the penultimate issue that is a problem. When the action is not moving you are just left in a room with people you do not feel you know very well talking about issues you forgot they had.
Still it is great to look at. This just in Stuart Immonen is a fantastic artist. Yes I know I am basically saying water is wet and the grass is green. I am just saying a person this good should not goo unnoticed because we expect it to happen. I loved what Immonen did on the Star Wars comic and it has been great seeing him tackle another Space Opera. The more creative freedom you give him the more he rewards you.
Extraordinary X-Men #1 Annual
Writer: Ollie Masters, Brandon Montclare
Artist: Carlo Barberi, Rosi Kampe
This is the type of story that has been missing in the X-Men world for so long. A simple story with a straightforward concept and well establishes stakes. We see the X-Men attempt to break out a couple of mutants stuck in a prison that is about to get hit with the Terrigen Mist cloud.
Having a British agent so stubborn on moving these individuals did come off as manufactured way to justify the X-Men’s action. Despite that drawback there was a lot to enjoy here. It has often been said the Marvel movies tend to take on the identity of another genre and this issue takes that idea and places it into the panels of an actual comic. It was basically like watching the X-Men in their very own heist story. It was not rewriting the book or the concept of a jail breakdown. Instead they took many of the elements you’d expect and dressed them up to fir the X-Men world. r
The artwork was somewhat suspect. Many of the faces looked morph especially Old Man Logan. Character designs in general appeared to change panel to panel. It was not to the point it took away from the story, but it seemed below the normal standards for Marvel.
International Iron Man #7
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
At this point the direction of Marvel’s biggest characters seem to be drastically changing for no real reason beyond serving the ego of Brian Michael Bendis. This entire series so far has been dedicated to revealing to us who are Tony Stark’s real parents. I have no issue if Bendis wants to tell this story, but considering Tony Stark is a character built so much on legacy you need to give me a good reason. So far that has yet to occur.
On face value this story is perfectly adequate. We see a young women get involved in something well over her head and form a relationship with a man she does not know nearly as well as she thinks. While ‘we get to know Tony Stark’s mother his father is a super forgettable figure. His major character shifts are so forced beyond the point of reason it is irritating. Sure it will set up a future dilemma for Tony to face, but that dilemma is by no means earned.
By the end I have to admit despite my gripes it did get me. Seeing Tony fully embrace his newly found mom was a touching moment. Perhaps it was due to the arduous journey Bendis had laid out to get to that moment. This series has the potential to be great if it come simply take time to earn more moments like that rather than to spring on random surprises for surprise sake.
Invincible Iron Man #13
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato
With all the craziness of Civil War II I keep forgetting James Rhodes/War Machine was killed. I cannot tell if that is due to the failure of Civil War or the state we are in when it comes to comic book character deaths. So I did appreciate the time this issue took to see Tony address that his best friend had been killed due to the action of people he considers close allies. Their friendship is one of the most iconic in comics so the fact it has come to an abrupt end deserves to be addressed. Where this issue falters is not giving it nearly enough time as it gets lost within the relationship between Tony and Amara.
Now that people have discovered Tony Stark is in fact alive it has left a lot of stockholders happy but Tony’s girlfriend Amara rather peeved. Their exchange was disappointing on both an execution and character standpoint. It caused Amara to look small and petty. This is a man dealing with the death of his friend and someone she knew well beforehand was a superhero. As character she was crafted as someone who would better understand his actions and the reason he did what he did. Besides being cliché at this point we are well beyond the jilted lover feeling angry due to being caught out of the loop. Both characters seem smart enough to understand the situation at hand and what had to be done.
Star Wars: Poe Dameron #6
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Phil Noto
Like many I really enjoyed P0e Dameron in the Force Awakens movie so I was excited when they annouced he was getting his own series. My only gripe about the character was we did not get enough of him in the actual film. I mean can you ever have enough Oscar Isaac? For those that can’t this series has worked as a good standby until the next Star Wars film. Here we also see how BB-8 may be small but is not to be trifled with. This was a satisfactory conclusion to this jailbreak storyline. Where this series has succeeded and many of the other Star Wars series have failed is the way it crafts an intriguing original villain. Here we see how cold blooded Telex can be when pushed as he directs his ship to shoot out escape pods just to trap and annoy The Black Squadron. In just a few issues this rivalry between Poe and Telex has quickly develop into something to behold.
Power-Man and Iron Fist #8
Writer: David Walker
This comic may be the best one to dive into the morality of the Civil War debate and the social impact on a ground level. Much of Civil War has been about stopping world ending catastrophes. Here we see how those same principles have an impact on a human level.
The choice to start off by bringing us back to the origins of Luke Cage and Iron Fist did more than just provide background. It clues us into what past experiences inform there moral character. Dany Rand is attempting to take a moral stand and we see Cage questions those actions. This was a delicate conversations that could have gone wrong in any number of ways but by the end it made this comic more than just a comic about superheroes. Considering the events of actual reality this feels like a story of high importance.
Despite some heavier subject matter I am amazed how it never gets bogged down in becoming too serious. Enough levity is placed between the pages to keep the comedy present and mood overall pretty light. Despite the forced in Civil War tie ins this series continues to be one of Marvel’s best.
Scarlet Witch 10
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Kei Zama
Scarlet Witch remains one of the most underrated series Marvel is putting out right now. Considering her past Scarlet Witch is a dense character to dive into so I am not surprised if some stay away. I implore you to pick this up as the series has simplified her story and made this book into a procedural mystery series with a splash of magic.
Here Scarlet Witch travels to Japan to investigate the suspicious death of a powerful warlock. The story unfolds like a classic fairytale and Kei Zama’s arts gives this issue a soothing beauty. Some may see having a different artist on every issue as a detriment. What this series lacks a uniformity each issue has been able to establish its own distinctive identity.
Part of what I love about this series is not knowing at all what is coming next. Everything form the plot line, location, and even time period can change. The biggest common thread so far is how consistently good each story has been. It is a great example of comic book story telling in the way it can get you to care about characters with only a few pages and well designed images. For those comic lovers looking for something to give friends to get them into comics this works as a great entry point.