Last month’s lackluster issue of AvX:VS really made me want to stop picking up this series – Marvel’s penchant for pitting oddly-matched characters against one another has led to a lot of ridiculous panels that don’t have a lot of substance behind them, even for this skimpy series. AvX: VS #4 tries to right this path by giving readers one obscure match-up, between Daredevil and Psylocke, and one ‘big league’ bout; Thor vs. Emma Frost. Daredevil and Psylocke’s fight makes for a lot of cool ninja action and dour, speechless panels that are actually somewhat indicative of how these two people fight, while the Emma Frost/Thor match, on the other hand, feels like a demigod slapping fit that’s not even drawn very well. The worst part of the issue is the panel that’s angled behind Emma as she delivers a high kick to Thor and giving the entire audience a very clear shot of her lady section.
Before Watchmen: Minutemen #2 of 6
Darwyn Cooke’s fantastic Minutemen series has been leading the pack of Before Watchmen titles, combining amazing retro art with a phenomenal story that simultaneously gives readers some clean-cut history of these characters as well as intimate plot details that flesh out a group of heroes that was barely covered in the original 12-issue run of Watchmen. Disagreement over the team’s focus becomes the focal point of Minutemen #2, with half the team dedicated to their cause, while the other half just wants to bask in the limelight. Silhouette, Nite Owl, and Mothamn track down a serial child molester, while Captain Metropolis and Hood Justice’s sadistic homosexual relationship is highlighted, all while Comedian gets in an argument with Dollar Bill over the morality of making one’s way in the world, no matter what the costs. While the decision to intercut a homosexual relationship (with dark, dark overtones) with half the team’s search for a sick, twisted child molester might have been a bit half-baked, Cooke’s masterful development of Minutemen keeps it at the top of the pile, making me want to come back each month for more.
While New Avengers has technically been crossing over with Marvel’s “Avengers vs. X-Men” series since April, the last three issues have been set centuries in the past, recounting a time when the Phoenix took an Iron Fist as it’s host. Since all that wrapped up last month, Brian Michael Bendis brings New Avengers into the present and focuses on the incarceration of Luke Cage, Spider-Woman, and Hawkeye, characters who have all had a major impact on their respective teams. The three Avengers are being held on Utopia when Hawkeye uses his dinner plate to break out, free Luke and Jessica, then mount a daring escape that sees them take down three of the Phoenix Five before they hijack a nearby speedboat. The revelation that their escape was simply a virtual reality simulation created by Danger is chilling and shows just how far Cyclops and the other Phoenix’s are willing to go to break the spirits of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
Spider-Men #3 of 5
If last month’s issue of Spider-Men was a whole lotta hardcore fan service, Spider-Men #3 is all about catering to the grander audience with the inclusion of Spider-Man’s rogues gallery all appearing at once. Mysterio’s abilities seem to have grown, and now his ‘hallucinations’ actually pack a punch, much to the chagrin of Peter Parker and Miles Morales. While much of the issue is dedicated to this brawl, the real meat of the issue comes when the battle ends and Peter strikes out on his own, hoping to find some vestige of personal familiarity in this oddly similar world. Of course, Peter finally makes his way to Ultimate Peter Parker’s house in Queens to find his Aunt May, a scene that couldn’t be more touching if Brian Michael Bendis wanted it to be.