Comics Round-up 15.06.2013

08 Daredevil

Shadowhawk and Bane of Kings welcome you to the second comics round-up for June.

“One of these rare times when all these books were fairly impressive. Earth 2 is carving out a great niche for itself and doing some great things with the alternate setting, with Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray’s first Power Girl volume being no less exciting, if a little flawed. Over at Marvel, Mark Waid’s first Daredevil volume is urban action and Daredevil done near-perfectly, with Ed Brubaker’s Captain America: Winter Soldier Volume 1 being simply exceptional.” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding Fields

The Flash opens a new story arc in a fantastic way and Batwoman impresses in its own corner of the Bat-family, while Superior Spider-Man delivers on its promise yet again and Brian Michael Bendis proves that he’s much better at writing for the X-Men themselves than he is with events.  If you’re not reading these books, you should be.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields

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Comics reviewed by Shadowhawk: Earth 2 #10-12 by James Robinson (DC Comics), Power Girl Vol.1 by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray (DC Comics), Daredevil Vol.1 by Mark Waid (Marvel), and, Captain America: Winter Soldier Vol.1 by Ed Brubaker (Marvel).

*****

Earth 2 #10-12 by James Robinson

Earth2Comp04For me, James Robinson’s Earth 2 is in the top tier of DC comics right now. It has the brilliance of Geoff Johns’ Aquaman and Scott Snyder’s Batman, the heart of Gail Simone’s Batgirl, and the complexities of Duane Swierczynski’s Birds of Prey. Redefining some of these major characters, such as The Flash and Green Lantern, while also bringing in fringe characters like Dr. Fate, Fury, Atom and the others is something that James Robinson has excelled at, since the very first issue of the comic. Which is why I was rather disheartened to hear a few days earlier that he was leaving the title in a few months. Creative shifts at DC aren’t a big surprise these days, they happen with such regularity that often times it is a struggle to keep straight who is working on who. This applies more to the second tier titles rather than any of the top tier ones, barring Superman, but it still quite common.

James has ended the first year of the comic on a superb high, bringing the arc for The Flash and Dr. Fate to a very satisfying close, while also delving deeper into the arc involving Hawkgirl and Green Lantern, even as we learn that the explosion that killed Alan Scott’s boyfriend and nearly claimed his own life as well, might not have been a random attack at all, but one where Sam was very much the target. The two story arcs don’t intertwine all that much, in fact there is no connection so far between them, and this allows James Robinson to really explore both arcs properly, without getting tied down with complicated team politics.

The inclusion of Jay Garrick’s mother into the story feels a little weird at times, particularly since she doesn’t exactly look like his mother, given that she strangely has a very youthful appearance in all the issues. At the same time though, she is the vehicle for teasing out Wotan’s origins and his history with regards his dealings with the Egyptian sorcerer supreme Nabu. I became quite fond of the interactions between her and Wotan, even though it all felt a bit forced at times and a bit too info-dumpy, but then again, when you are dealing with a huge cast like Earth 2 is, some of it is necessary I suppose, if the reader is to keep track of everything that is happening.

And while Mrs. Garrick and Wotan have their heart-to-heart, Jay and Khalid are in Fate’s Tower, seeking out the Helm of Nabu, driven by Wotan’s threat of deadly force against Jay’s mother. In #10 and #11, it was these scenes that stood out the most for me. I love a good superhero yarn that is about nobility and sacrifice, which is exactly what James gave me here. The heart-to-heart between Jay and Khalid felt entirely too natural, as if that’s how things were meant to be and should be. Khalid finally accepting his role as Dr. Fate, the bearer of the Helm of Nabu, is one of the most chilling moments in the entire series so far (seen in #11). It reminded me of the two-part Smallville episode Absolute Justice in which Kent Nelson talks with Clark just before he is killed and tells him that he has a great destiny ahead of him and that he shouldn’t mourn Kent’s passing. James’ scene is very different, but the emotional impact and the sheer power of his scene is the same. Standout work. And of course, there is indeed a big battle between Dr. Fate and Wotan that follows, which totally made me keel over in joy. James Robinson is a damn genius.

James doesn’t go into much detail where Green Lantern and Hawkgirl’s investigation on the bombing is concerned, but he teases out a lot of things, most of which are red herrings I’m sure, because they are a bit too obvious. Plus, he’s shown a flair of deviousness before, so I’ll wait for confirmation in one of the upcoming issues that are coming out before he leaves the title. And I really hope that there is a revelation there. The whole twist in #10 was very sudden and, frankly, awesome, so I can’t wait to see what it all is.

The art team of Nicola Scott and Trevor Scott is back in the saddle once again and their artwork is an absolute marvel to behold. Whether it is the fight sequence between Nabu and Wotan in Ancient Egypt, or Dr. Fate fighting Wotan spell-to-spell, or Jay and Khalid in Fate’s Tower, or Alan Scott laying down the smack on a gang of Chinese baddies, the artwork is great. There are a ton of gorgeous details in each panel, and characters are portrayed pretty much perfectly. Given that each character has a distinct experience and there is never a moment of confusion in who is who, the artwork gets even better as a whole.

If you haven’t been reading this book as yet, then you are missing out on some of the best work that DC is doing right now. I really can’t recommend this series enough. Having already the following Annual and #13, I can say that things get even better, with a lot more mysteries being introduced and teased.

Rating: 9.5/10

More Earth 2: #0, #1-4, #5-7, and- #8-9.

*****

Power Girl Vol.1: A New Beginning by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray

27 Power Girl A New Beginning

One of the reasons that I picked up this graphic novel to read as my first Power Girl experience was because all three creators on this, Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti as writers and Amanda Conner as artist, are praised highly for their work here. Having read and really enjoyed Amanda Conner’s Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre last year, which she co-wrote with Darwyn Cooke and also drew, I was fairly excited about this one. After all, I’m a huge Supergirl fan, and it doesn’t really matter to me whether I’m reading a Supergirl Supergirl book, or her alternate identity from a different Earth.

I certainly wasn’t disappointed. The book has a very fresh-faced feel to it, absent any dark humour or the grim and gritty. A New Beginning is very much about new beginnings and keeping hope, concepts that Palmiotti and Gray absolutely nail from the very first pages of the first issue. They also are able to set Power Girl against a good variety of villains who test her to her limits, even though some of it comes across as cartoonish at times. Seeing Power Girl fight is very different to seeing Superman or even “Supergirl” fight, since she appears to be much more… destructive at times. Its a fine distinction that isn’t always apparent, so its nice to see the writers try and incorporate that in the book.

Of course, being a superhero isn’t all that Power Girl does. In her identity as Karen Starr, she also runs Starrware Labs, looking to help people with more than just her physical abilities. She hires as much top talent as she can and gets them to working on all sorts of science projects that can help make the world a better place. Seeing Karen (or Kara Zor-L to give her her full Kryptonian name) balance the two sides of her daily life was very entertaining and interesting. Its not easy being a notable superhero and the president of a research firm at the same time and the cracks do begin to show by the end.

In the main, apart from some almost unwholesome panels involving the boob window, I found Amanda Conner’s art to be really excellent. She has a really good eye for panels that pack a lot of details, and I don’t think I saw any spinebreaker poses either. Which is all a plus of course. Personally, my favourite panels are whenever Power Girl/Karen has a snarky, cheeky or seen-it-all expression on her face. Amanda does those really well. Combine all that with Paul Mounts colours, and this becomes an even better book in terms of the art. In keeping with the uplifting and light-hearted nature of the script, Mounts colours are soft and bright, communicating the themes visually without straying into the ridiculous territory.

In terms of criticisms of the book, I’d say that the more cartoonish aspects of the scripts were something I didn’t like all that much. I totally loved the whole light-hearted vibe of the book, but at times Gray and Palmiotti overdid it and the narrative became less compelling. And while Power Girl gets to fight a variety of villains, they aren’t necessarily “good” villains, and just propagate the Saturday morning cartoon villain vibe. A few bright flashes that go counter that, but not as much as I’d like.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend the book. Its not great, but its not bad either. I bought the second volume the other day, looking to read more, so in a way, Palmiotti, Gray and Conner definitely hooked me in for the long run.

Rating: 7.5/10

*****

Daredevil Vol.1 by Mark Waid

08 Daredevil

As with Captain America below, I’m not all that familiar with Daredevil either. I’ve seen the Ben Afflect-starrer movie, but that’s about it really. Most of my other experience with the character comes from cameos in the various video games. As such, he is a fairly mysterious character. The kind I love to read. Having read Mark Waid’s excellent Superman: Birthright, I wondered if Mark Waid would recreate that magic here. The reality, as it turns out, is that my expectation was pretty much spot on. There’s some great humour here, and some great set piece action sequences as well.

My biggest concern with the book is that it follows on pretty much directly from the previous big series, from what I can infer from this book, and so its not as enjoyable as I thought it would be, but it still comes quite close. The events of the previous series are mentioned again and again, in particular the story where Matt Murdoch is outed as being the superhero Daredevil, and this ends up acting his professional life as well.

I definitely enjoyed Daredevil as he is represented here. Waid has seemingly gone back to the basics with the character and its refreshing to see something like, in light of all the “reboots” that are happening in the industry of late. Waid gives ample introduction to his character and his various abilities, while also keeping him on his feet and not letting the character’s ego get in the way. And all the internal commentary takes things further, helping to really flesh out Daredevil’s dual identities. The character is fun, enjoyable and sympathetic, which is what matters.

More than anything else, this book is about simplicity and nuance through that simplicity. Consequently, Waid’s Daredevil is a character caught between two worlds, and its fascinating to see how it all comes together into one big package.

Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin’s pencils are just as impressive as Waid’s writing. The two of them help make the book look great visually, and there are a lot of instances in the book where they let their imagination run completely wild. Of particular note is an extended scene where Matt experiences the entire world around him through echolocation, and it made for some of the top moments in the book. Just as Waid really understands his character, so do Rivera and Martin. Their hardwork shines through all the time.

And I’ll add that Daredevil’s action scenes are beautifully realised. Waid and his artists never portray him as someone who is super-capable, and they keep him fairly down-to-earth. Daredevil’s style of fighting is fairly unorthodox, so there’s another added enjoyment factor to the whole thing.

If there’s any particular things that I didn’t like about the book, they are: First, the very first issue has some rather disappointing gender politics at work, with respect to a mob wedding where Daredevil steals a kiss from the bride without her permission. That scene really set me off, and pretty much ruined what Waid had built up to that point. Another is that we see frustratingly little of Matt in the courtroom. Its a key component of his character, and not being able to see that manifested made for an often-awkward read. The explanation that is present in the book is unsatisfactory and I think that could have been handled much better than it was.

Regardless, it is still a fairly good book, and has made me want to read more of Waid’s Daredevil work. After everything’s done and dusted, that’s what counts right?

Rating: 8/10

*****

Captain America: Winter Soldier Vol.1 by Ed Brubaker

06 Captain America Winter Soldier Vol.1To be honest, I’ve never been much of a Captain America fan prior to reading this book. I saw him for the first time in the Fox Spider-Man cartoon, when he showed up in the final season towards the end for the most part. Since then, I’ve seen him in the new Marvel movies (Captain America: First Avenger was rather boring) and the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon. And Rick Remender’s Captain America #1 for Marvel NOW was pretty damn unexciting. I kind of like the character, but I can’t get behind him as easily as I can, say, Thor or Iron Man or Daredevil. When I read Brubaker’s Winter Soldier Vol.1 however, I became a fan. Brubaker seems to have captured the core of the Captain’s character and he gives him a really great outing with lots of great twists and turns in the story that just leave you stunned and excited in equal measure.

I wasn’t really sure what kind of story to expect here at first, largely since I’ve never really read a Cap comic book before, and so have no idea what kind of slant his books usually go for. Going in with relatively zero expectations, other than the fact that Brubaker is regarded very highly with respect to his work on the Cap, helped quite a bit in approaching the book objectively and with open eyes. I thought I’d be reading some silliness, some decent urban action, some country-at-stakes story and that’s it. What I got instead was a deeply moving thriller/suspense book that really made me care about the character.

Brubaker really goes deep into Cap’s psychology and explores his character in detail. It was all, quite frankly, very surprising. And I found that I enjoyed this deeper look into Cap. I got to read what makes him tick, how his years of service have shaped him, and how he fits into the modern world. We see a very human side of him as well, whenever he is at  his most vulnerable, and that helped to really sell me on his character. In his mindset, Cap is very like Superman, both are always looking for the third way out, and this one fit the bill perfectly. Through some clever use of flashbacks to help tell what has happened before in Cap’s life with respect to the Red Skull and Bucky’s death, Bruabaker delivers a really strong tale of vengeance and rediscovery.

Steve Epting’s art certainly deserves a mention as well. I’ve seen the horrors that Rob Liefeld perpetrated on poor Cap, so its great to see Epting do a much more realistic take on the character. His work is often sharp and dynamic, which is all one can really ask for, isn’t it? Epting’s Cap and Nick Fury in particular are drawn really well. And the inks and colours of the rest of the art team aren’t in the slouch department either. They are all on top form here. Of all the Marvel graphic novels I’ve read to date, this one is certainly at the top in terms of its art, which is just amazing.

For someone new to Captain America comics like me, this might not be the best place to start, since there are a lot of references here to previous lore, involving Cap’s sidekick Bucky and Cap’s various superhero identities over the years. However, at the same, I didn’t feel too lost and the way that Brubaker structured everything, it was fairly easy to follow along.

Rating: 8.5/10

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Comics reviewed by Bane of Kings: The Flash #19-20 by Brian Buccellato (DC Comics), Batwoman #19-20 by J.H.Williams III and Haden Blackman (DC Comics), Superior Spider-Man #8-11 by Dan Slott (Marvel), and, Uncanny X-Men #4-6 by Brian Michael Bendis (Marvel).

*****

The Flash #19-20 by Brian Buccellato

Art: Marcio Takara (#19), Francis Manapul (#20) | Cover: Francis Manapul (#19-20)

#19 – • What is the latest and greatest threat to The Flash and all those closest to him?

#20 – An all-new Flash epic begins here, and the stakes have never been higher as Barry races toward a confrontation with the Reverse Flash!

TheFlashComp02The Flash is another series, like Nightwing and Batwoman that I’ve read the first few issues of, and even in Batwoman’s case read the first graphic novel of, but during the transition from digital to print comics I lost track of what comics I was following. However, when The Flash moved into a new story-arc with #19 that featured the appearance of the Reverse Flash, I was interested, especially as the artwork looked absolutely fantastic and the first three issues were among my favourite of the New 52.

However, it doesn’t seem as though The Flash #19 might not have been the best jumping on point. As it turns out, #18 saw Barry Allen lose control of his powers, which of course – provided an interesting potential for a storyline, particularly as the Flash wasn’t a character who I knew much about before the New 52 other than the fact that he can run really fast.

Marcio Takara is the artist behind this comic in #19, and whilst Takara delivered some pretty impressive art, it was blown away by what Francis Manapul delivered in #20. Whilst there is a transition between Takara and Manapul in #19, it’s noticeable, but not enough to put you off the comic, and I’m really looking forward to what Manapul can throw at the reader in #20, especially as it pits The Flash against Teen Titans member Kid Flash.

Plotwise, it’s sort of a cliché in terms of superhero stories to see a superhero being dragged down to his roots, stripped of his powers, and forced to start again. Jeff Lemire’s pulling it off excellently in Green Arrow, whilst on the big screen we saw this happen to both Batman (The Dark Knight Rises) and Iron Man (Iron Man 3). However, there seems to be something in common with all of them – they’re good. Sure, other people may disagree with me particularly when it comes to The Dark Knight Rises and Iron Man 3, but I really enjoyed those films even if I recognise their flaws and why some might not like them. There’s nothing that’s glaringly detracting the experience from The Flash #19-20 here though, and for those who didn’t think that a Flash with no powers story would work well, think again. Brian Buccellato knocks it out of the park with these two incredible issues that looks set to create a great story arc, and as mentioned earlier, a great confrontation with Kid Flash.

The Flash #20 has possibly one of my favourite covers of the entire series since #1 from what I’ve seen, and it just looks so awesome. The second issue for me is better than the first one mainly because I prefer Manapul’s art to Takara’s, but that’s not because Takara is a bad artist or anything, in fact, the art in #19 is nearly as awesome as what we’re given in #20, it’s just that #20 had a bit more awesome to it, which wasn’t just limited to the artwork. #20 sees Barry Allen trying to put his life back together after being presumed dead, and the issue itself feels like a really energetic read, with the image of Flash running towards the reader slightly early on in the issue really eye-catching, and I think if #20 gets its moment for best cover of the two issues, than it also claims the award for best interior artwork of the two issues.

#20 is also great at setting up a good first chapter in a new six-part story, and it certainly has a promising start. The Flash has become a comic that I’m looking forward to reading each month, and the cheaper pricetag on this series (like most of DC’s books out there, Nightwing, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Batwoman, etc) is also a great bonus.

Rating: 4.5/5

*****

Batwoman #19-20 by J.H.Williams III and Haden Blackman

Art: Trevor McCarthy | Cover: Trevor McCarthy (#19), J.H. Williams III (#20)

#19 – • What is the shocking family revelation that can turn Batwoman’s world upside down?

#20 – Batwoman is being played right into a confrontation with Batman…and that’s the least of her problems after the final page of issue #20!

BatwomanComp02Before I start, I’d just like to take a moment to say just how awesome those covers are. Seriously. Batwoman was another book that I picked up during the WTF! Issue month that saw covers for most series that had #19 issues released that month (aside from a few series released later, like Constantine, Justice League of America and Earth 2), where they each had a surprise reveal, that usually (much like Justice League #19) didn’t happen in the comic in question. But whether the scene revealed in the cover happened in the issue or not, J.H. Williams III sure knows how to tell a fantastic story, and Trevor McCarthy manages to really impress on the artwork, as Batwoman manages to be one of the better looking titles on the market to date – with each issue that I’ve read so far having been superb.

The series itself fits nicely in its own little corner of Gotham City. Batwoman was one of the few Bat-Family titles that bore no connection to the Death of the Family event or the Night of Owls crossover that preceded it, which is pretty cool despite how much I would have loved to see Batwoman deal with a Talon when Trevor McCarthy is drawing them. I think the only Bat-Family title that wasn’t connected to at least one event was Talon, which was literally spawned out of the Night of the Owls and has fast developed into one of my favourite superhero books. Batwoman is also high up there, and proves to be very impressive indeed.

Unlike Flash, in which I suffered from a little confusion getting into, I got stuck into Batwoman and wasn’t really lost as to what was happening, mainly because after reading the fantastic Volume 1, Hydrology, I was up to speed on the series. However, #19 is a pretty packed issue, and at times the reader may struggle to keep up with the way that Williams III is telling the story. It’s also one of those comics that made me eagerly look forward to picking up the next issue with a great cliffhanger, something that #20 also delivers as well, playing Kate Kane into a confrontation with Batman, which will be really interesting to see how it pans out.

#19 is great at exploring Kate Kane’s family, and how it can make or break a person. The interesting dilemma that she’s again presented with in #20 provides her with an interesting question – how far will she go to protect the ones that she loves? I’m really looking forward to how she gets out of this situation, and what the future issues can provide us. Whilst I like villain’s month for giving the spotlight to certain villains, I’m also somewhat annoyed that that will be an extra month with no continuing storyline for some of my favourite DC series, Nightwing, Batwoman and The Flash among them.

Overall then, both issues were superb. If you’re not a Batwoman reader then you need to be. J.H. Williams is awesome on this title.

Rating: 4.5/5

*****

Superior Spider-Man #8-11 by Dan Slott/Christos Gage

Art: Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba (#8), Ryan Stegman (#9-#10), Cam Smith (#10), Giuseppe Camuncoli (#11), John Dell (#11) | Cover Art: Humberto Ramos (#8),  Edgar Delgado (#8), Marcos Martin (#9-10), Ryan Stegman (#9)  Giuseppe Camuncoli (#11)

#8 – “Troubled Mind” Part 2 • Peter Parker takes a stand! • With a villain acting like a hero and a hero acting like a villain, one man has decided that enough is enough! • More with Cardiac! More surprises! And a moment that will break a lot of hearts! • To save the life of one of Spider-Man’s enemies, Peter Parker fights to regain control of his body, his mind, and his destiny! • Is this the beginning of the end for Otto Octavius?

#9 – IT ENDS HERE! “SUPERIOR NO MORE!” * The hottest comic in comics comes to a turning point that will get you angrier than you were after Spidey #700! * The time has come to see who will live, who will die, and who will emerge as the one, true Superior Spider-Man!

#10 – A perfect jumping on point as The Green Goblin returns…and Spider-Man is nowhere to be found!

#11 – “No Escape” Part 1 of 3 The Spider-Slayer is scheduled for execution and Mayor J. Jonah Jameson is leaving nothing to chance. To ensure that everything goes according to plan, Jameson’s called in the one man he can trust to oversee everything—the Superior Spider-Man. Since the startling events of Superior Spider-Man #9, will anyone realize that things have changed…?

SSMComp03Superior Spider-Man is a series that has been receiving well, shall we say mixed reactions from Spider-Man fans. I couldn’t really care what happened either way to Peter Parker though, as long as the storyline that’s presented to us was good. After all, this isn’t going to be the status quo forever, even after the shocking events of #9, which – after the shock of Amazing Spider-Man #700, which whilst I didn’t read, knew what happened, didn’t really have that greater impact on me, although it was still shocking to a certain extent.

Anyway. I jumped on board this series with #8 after trying to get #7 but failing because my local store had ran out of copies, so I had to rely on knowledge of what reviews were claiming had happened in #7. It features Superior Spider-Man and the Avengers, who amazingly are willing to let Octavius!Spidey go back out into the streets of New York City, and it’s quite interesting to watch how he goes about screwing up Peter’s life, moving on from Mary Jane, and even gaining the alliance of J. Jonah Jameson – the Mayor of New York, which plays an important role in #11 and makes me really looking forward to #12, which I do believe hits shelves next Wednesday, especially as #11 was a real increase in quality with the introduction of Christos Gage as a co-writer, whose comics I really need to check out more of in the future if this is anything to go by. This series has been pretty solid up until #10, but I think #11 knocks it out of the park and is probably my favourite so far, and sets up a really interesting story arc that leaves Jameson and the Superior Spider-Man stranded in a prison filled by the enemies of both of them.

The artwork is somewhat of a mixed bag, and that’s probably due to the fact that there’s a large amount of artists on this book, with six artists covering the four issues. This allows for some varying quality – for example, #11 is probably my favourite out of the lot art-wise, with the best cover as well, whilst #8 and #10 probably boast the weakest cover art. I think it’s so far the case that when the book is limited to one/two writers or one/two artists, then it’s a better increase in quality – as is the case of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman from DC, and All New X-Men from Marvel, with Brian Michael Bendis & Stuart Immonen.

SSMComp04#9 of the Superior Spider-Man gives the ghost form of Peter a bigger role to play, and the previous issues have been building towards a great encounter between Octavius!Spidey and Ghost Peter in his own mind. This allows for some interesting scenarios and a great showdown between Octavius and Peter, and really makes me wonder – despite the fact that it didn’t have a massive impact on me on the reader – how is Peter going to come back? I mentioned earlier that Marvel won’t keep this the same forever, presumably they’ll change it back to Peter as Spider-Man by the time The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hits the cinema, a film that I’m really looking forward to, especially after watching The Amazing Spider-Man pretty recently. While I can see it a good thing to get Peter back, I wouldn’t mind having Octavius run around in his body for a while. This would also pose an interesting question about what would happen if he met Spider-Men from alternative realities – for example, Peter has encountered Miles Morales before, and Octavius looks set to encounter another alternate Spider-Man (2099), judging by future solicits which also benefit from some awesome covers. I can’t wait to see what happens in that particular conflict even though I’ve never encountered that version of Spider-Man before, and with a Miles Morales vs. Doc Ock, that premise would look pretty interesting indeed.

So, may Dan Slott keep writing more fantastic issues. I don’t know how much Christos Gage worked on #11, but I can’t wait to see him put out some more for Superior Spider-Man. The way #11 raised in tension over the course of the issue and the great cliffhanger ending allowed for a really enjoyable read, and I think that #12 is probably going to be one of my first reads when I pick it up from the local comic store next week.

I seem to be awarding a lot of high ratings this week, and I think they’re all pretty much going to be the same. I haven’t read an issue that’s been a letdown out of the books that I’ve reviewed – which is always a positive thing, and if you’re not following any of these series then I highly suggest you do.

Rating: 4.5/5

*****

Uncanny X-Men #4-6 by Brian Michael Bendis

Art: Chris Bachalo (#4), Tim Townsend (#4), Jamie Mendoza (#4), Al Vey (#4), Victor Olazaba (#4), Frazer Irving (#5-6) | Cover: Chris Bachalo (#4), Kris Anka (#4), Frazer Irving (#5-6)

#4 – • How is Magik the only one of the Phoenix Five to come out of the experience unscathed?

• And there is something strange going on with one of the other members of the UNCANNY X-MEN.

#5 – • FRAZER IRVING (Batman and Robin) joins the creative team of UNCANNY X-MEN!

• Learn what it’s like to be a student at Cyclops’ new school.

#6 – • The Uncanny X-Men face evil sorcerer DORMAMMU! Don’t miss this new take on the evil sorcerer demon courtesy of Bendis and Irving.

• Discover the secrets Magik has been hiding since the Phoenix Force left her in AVENGERS VS. X-MEN.

UncannyXMenComp02I’m not a big fan of the Phoenix Five, and arguably, Cyclops is one of the X-Men who I hate the most, particularly after the events of Avengers vs. X-Men. However, it’s an accomplishment that Brian Michael Bendis has not only managed to keep me picking this book up despite the characters involved, but also actually make me want to support them. Not quite root for them, as I’ll still take the students at the JGS over those at the New Professor Xavier School any day, but Brian Michael Bendis has managed to create some interesting characters here, who have a whole lot better personality than AvX, and it’s very interesting to examine characters like Emma Frost and Magik, who I’ve never encountered before in the comics world.

Whilst issues #1-3 of Uncanny X-Men may have been strong, it’s #4 that really kicks the book into overdrive, capable of being good on its own – but when viewed alongside the tie-in All New X-Men, it becomes a great comic. #4 really gives Emma Frost the spotlight for Chris Bachalo’s last issue on the artwork, and I have a feeling that I should really be missing him more – especially as his artwork is superb. However, when Frazer Irving steps in from #5, he knocks it out of the park – with a distinctive style that took a bit of getting used to at first, but now it’s won me over, and I can’t wait for #7 which comes out the following Wednesday.

Uncanny X-Men is a lot more unconventional superhero comic than All New X-Men, particularly given the last two issues. #4 spends more time introducing us to the new recruits of Cyclops as they get up to some interesting adventures, even if they haven’t become particularly memorable or distinguishable in their own rights yet. Hopefully we can have more issues focused on these new characters – for they have great potential, and whilst I kind of feel sorry for them that they’re drawn into the side that isn’t Wolverine’s, I can’t wait to see how their characters develop, especially as they’re drawn fantastically.

If you’ll remember in All New X-Men, there was a cliffhanger moment that revealed that one of the Original X-Men defected to join Cyclops’ gang. It was to say, somewhat surprising that it was revealed in Uncanny X-Men #4, to say the least – and the character was someone who I probably care the least for out of the original 5, so hopefully Bendis can focus on that character in future issues, like #4 has given a focus on the new students and Emma Frost and Magik has a pretty key role to play in #5 and #6, and to a certain extent, #4 as well.

In #6, we get a wealth of character development, as well as preparation for battle. We see a great exploration of the Cuckoos, whose characters I’m not too sure on – and look actually quite weird, but then we also get to see the addition of Dazzler, as an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D, which probably would have had a greater impact on me if I’d actually known who Dazzler is, but this has nonetheless got me excited to see how future issues will play out. Having started off as one of the weaker Bendis written X-Books, it’s now establishing itself as a close-run thing with All New X-Men, and it also benefits from the fantastic artwork, for Frazer Irving and Chris Bachalo have both been amazing on this book.

So, it’s another 4.5/5 for me. Seriously, Uncanny X-Men is awesome. So is The Flash, Batwoman and Superior Spider-Man. If I had to pick as to which series is the best, I’d probably say Uncanny X-Men, but it’s a close run thing, for all of these series are spectacular and the highlight of DC’s New 52 and Marvel Now! alike, and I can’t wait to see where they go next.

Rating: 4.5/5

Shadowhawk is a regular contributor to TFF. A resident of Dubai, Shadowhawk reads, reads and reads. His opinions are always clear and concise. His articles always worth reading.

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