Uncanny Avengers #5

(w) Rick Remender     (a) Olivier Coipel

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

On the spectrum on comic book art, it goes from being extremely cartoony/exaggerated on one end, to vividly realistic/lifelike on the other. Rob Liefeld and Humberto Ramos are the first two names that popped into my head when thinking of examples for the former, while David Finch and Ethan Van Sciver represent the latter. While most artists exist somewhere along the spectrum, there are few that find a phenomenal middle ground that represents the comic book format, yet manages to capture dynamic realism. Some of these names include Jim Lee, Jim Cheung, Greg Capullo, John Cassaday, Phil Noto, and Olivier Coipel.

Coipel has been a favorite artist of mine since I read House of M, so when I heard he was doing an issue of Uncanny Avengers with Rick Remender — a more recent addition to my list of favorite writers — I was immediately sold. Though, it’s not like I wasn’t already going to read the issue. Coipel’s artwork is an absolute treat for an transition issue that begins to incorporate Remender’s storylines from Uncanny X-Force he promised would resurface in this series.

There is a sequence in Uncanny Avengers #5, wherein Alex Summers begins a national dialogue about the use of the word “mutant” as a descriptor of individuals with activated x-genes. For some ridiculous reason, select critics and journalists have chosen to become incensed by the ideas put forth by Havok in his speech. These ideas deal with the perception of mutants as inherently different from humans, which Alex attempts to explain simply isn’t true. The controversy surrounds Alex’s insistence that the word “mutant” now carries a negative connotation, and that maybe, just maybe, the intelligent peoples of Earth might just possibly be able to think of a better way to interact with those who are different. The point of the speech was that Alex didn’t want to be defined by his mutation; a noble belief that ultra-sensitives on the internet have turned into an ugly attempt at casting Rick Remender and his narrative decisions in a bigoted light. It’s ridiculous and frankly appalling that a story conveying a hopeful idea for the future of an oppressed people is so viciously attacked because of the wording.


And the funny thing is, Havok’s speech is only a small part of the issue. Probably the least technically interesting part about the issue is Alex’s speech. It’s a sentiment that’s been a part of mutant life in the Marvel universe for decades. Remender conveyed that sentiment very well, but it’s been done. The speech is important, but in true Remender fashion, the entire issue sets up future stories, not just the big finale at the end. There’s the addition of Wonder Man, Wasp, and Sunfire to the team, the romantic tension between Captain America and Scarlet Witch, the attack on the press conference by Grim Reaper, or even the ongoing look at Captain America and Havok’s struggle to keep rank.

Uncanny Avengers #5 is a fantastic issue of a fantastic series. Rick Remender knows how to write great comic books and now that we’re getting to the point where his storylines from UXF are starting to connect, it’s just going to get better and better.

GRADE
8/10

The Superior Spider-Man #6AU (mini review)

(w) Christos Gage     (a) Dexter Soy

As an explanation as to why Spider-Man reads like Peter Parker in Age of Ultron instead of like Otto Octavius, The Superior Spider-Man #6AU is pretty unsatisfying. As a tie-in to “Age of Ultron”, the issue is an interesting look at how the Superior Spider-Man would process the oppression of Earth by someone other than he.

Truthfully, I feel like The Superior Spider-Man has stalled. The first two issues showcased Dan Slott’s ability to bring a fresh new perspective on a very old character. Since then, the series has been going through the motions, unable to find sure footing for the fledgling new anti-hero. With The Superior Spider-Man #6AU, writer Christos Gage utilizes the apocalyptic nightmare of Ultron’s victory to give Otto the ultimate feeling of inferiority.

Putting aside how ridiculous it is that Otto would go through to the trouble of “acting” like Peter to satisfy anyone’s comfort, Spider-Man takes it upon himself to destroy Ultron simply because he’s got a bit more experience with robots than anyone still living. But it’s not about his plan or it’s success or failure. It’s about Otto’s hubris and how it exceeds even the end of the world. This is what the Superior Spider-Man needs to be. This is what Otto’s journey needs to represent because that’s the kind of man he is, the kind that needs to be better than everyone else.

GRADE
9/10

Teen Titans #18 (mini review)

(w) Scott Lobdell     (a) Eddy Barrows

Holy God. 

Seriously. 

Words might not be enough to describe just how much I loathe Scott Lobdell’s Teen Titans. The man has single-handedly decimated years of amazing character development from Geoff Johns and others that made the Teen Titans one of DC’s best books. 

Teen Titans #18 is so full of terrible, I basically stopped reading after the first half. It took everything in me to continue reading, and I was upset the entire time. Nothing about this issue is good. Tim’s super awkward semi-psychotic breakdown over Damian Wayne’s death is just god-awful. He just yells at a nonexistent Damian before Alfred finds him hugging nothing. If I were Alfie, I’d be calling Arkham.

Then we get the weird reuniting of the Teen Titans wherein Superboy continues to act like a complete dick to the surprise of no one. What did surprise me was that Scott Lobdell, once again, felt it necessary to reference N.O.W.H.E.R.E. It’s infuriating to see that terrible acronym pop up yet again for no reason whatsoever. Get over it, Lobdell.

None of this is to mention the inclusion of the Suicide Squad. Why? Just because. Deal with it, apparently.

And isn’t Red Robin supposed to be possessed by the Joker or something? I don’t know. I’m so far beyond hoping or believing that Scott Lobdell can write a coherent story I just don’t know what to do.

I am counting the days until Justin Jordan’s debut issue on the series because it seriously could not be any worse than this steaming pile Scott Lobdell calls his work.

GRADE: 0/10

Fantastic Four #5AU (mini review)

(w) Matt Fraction     (a) Andre Araujo

Matt Fraction’s Fantastic Four has been a slow burn, to say the least. Five issues in and Reed Richard’s health condition is still taking precedent, and that’s not really enough (for me, anyway) to carry the series. It’s been fun so far, but I fear Fraction falling into an episodic format.

And then there’s Fantastic Four #5AU, my favorite issue of the series thus far. It has more energy, fun, and high stakes than anything else so far. Plus, it really feels like the events of this issue will have lasting ramifications going forward in Fantastic Four, so it will be interesting to see how Fraction handles this change in status quo. 

My only real problem with the Fantastic Four being involved with events on Earth is that up until now, there’s been absolutely no way of contacting the team while on their journey. Now, seemingly out of nowhere, Black Panther has some deus ex machina communication device that can broadcast through all space and time. What?

GRADE: 8/10

Spotlight: Guardians of the Galaxy #1

(w) Brian Michael Bendis     (a) Steve McNiven

Cosmic adventures are slowly, but surely, creeping into the mainstream of the comic book industry. Even over the past five years, it seemed nearly impossible for intergalactic series to get noticed beyond a devoted, yet small fan base. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning struck gold with their interpretation of Marvel’s cosmic lineup a few years back, but it was unceremoniously ignored by most readers. 


**SPOILERS FOR THE AVENGERS [2012] (THOUGH, YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN IT BY NOW…SERIOUSLY) AND THIS ISSUE**


Enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and — more specifically — The Avengers. Though it was classic Thor villain Loki who was pulling the strings throughout Joss Whedon’s superhero epic, footage shown after a few credits roll infers that it was indeed the mad titan, Thanos, who supplied Loki with an army to invade Earth. Since Marvel took over most of the rights to their character franchises, the MCU has been teasing subsequent movies with brief epilogues at the end of each film that have succeeded in bringing a new level of connectedness to Marvel’s big screen stories. Any moviegoer who stuck around long enough to see the malevolent villain setting his focus on Earth 1) wouldn’t know it was Thanos because he’s never named, and 2) Would merely see it as the connector to the next Avengers film. Marvel fans, on the other hand, understood this brief appearance as the first step towards a more cosmic Marvel comic universe.

The new volume of Guardians of the Galaxy is the next step in this narrative expansion. Not only did the Marvel assemble the powerhouse creative team of Brian Michael Bendis and Steve McNiven for the project, they’ve also included Iron Man as a member of the Guardians. Both of these elements give Guardians of the Galaxy a lot more star power behind it, instantly making it one of Marvel’s flagship titles.

Guardians of the Galaxy #1 is all about Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star-Lord. We got a fairly comprehensive glimpse at Peter’s personal history last month in the #0.1 issue, but it’s really here, in the proper debut, that we get to see Star-Lord’s new characterization under Brian Michael Bendis. Peter is a man with deep-seeded paternal issues that literally stretch across the universe. Pete’s dad wants his wayward son to come home to planet Spartax and claim his rightful place as a royal figure. Obviously, Peter doesn’t have much desire for this life, and thus, basically tells his old man to gent bent. It’s a strikingly grounded relationship made epic by that fact that it’s contextualized amongst alien planets and space-faring adventurers.

Though Star-Lord gets most of the panel time, the other Guardians get their moments in the spotlight as well. Bendis’ main strength is in team books because he’s so able to play the varying personalities against one another. It’s what made the man’s time on Avengers titles so memorable. From Guardians of the Galaxy #1, it’s obvious Bendis’ signature style has translated well in a cosmic setting.

Though I enjoyed it, Guardians of the Galaxy #0.1 was less than satisfactory because it was all backstory and it somewhat diluted the effect of a premier issue that hadn’t even come out yet. That being said, after reading Guardians of the Galaxy #1, most of my skepticism has been washed away. It’s now clear that Bendis wanted to put out a prelude issue to set up Peter Quill’s character enough to carry the first issue — readers are familiar enough with Quill to not be lost going into the issue, but also get vital information on the actual rest of the team. Guardians of the Galaxy #1 is a triumph for Bendis and Steve McNiven, pointing to a bright future in the stars for Marvel.

GRADE
9/10

The Week in Revue (Mar 27-Apr 2, 2013)

——- Spotlight

Guardians of the Galaxy #1
(w) Brian Michael Bendis     (a) Steve McNiven
THE GUARDIANS RETURN TO THE MARVEL UNIVERSE!

——- DC Reviews
Batman Incorporated #9
(w) Grant Morrison     (a) Chris Burnham
WHAT HAPPENS IN THE MOMENTS AFTER THE DEATH OF DAMIAN WAYNE?

The Flash #18
(w) Brian Buccellato     (a) Marcio Takara
THE TRICKSTER ACCUSED OF MURDER? AND A SPECIAL CROSSOVER WITH…DIAL H!

Justice League Dark #18
(w) Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes     (a) Mikel Janin
THE CONCLUSION TO “THE DEATH OF MAGIC!”


———- mini reviews
Aquaman #18
(w) Geoff Johns     (a) Paul Pelletier
“DEATH OF A KING” BEGINS HERE! A NEW ARC IN THIS ACCLAIMED SERIES!

Superman #18
(w) Scott Lobdell     (a) Kenneth Rocafort
H.I.V.E. MAKES IT’S NEW 52 DEBUT AS THEY TRY TO TAKE OVER METROPOLIS!

Teen Titans #18
(w) Scott Lobdell     (a) Eddy Barrows
FALLOUT FROM “DEATH OF THE FAMILY” AND THE DEATH OF DAMIAN WAYNE! GUEST STARRING THE SUICIDE SQUAD!

——- Marvel Reviews
Age of Ultron #3 of 10
(w) Brian Michael Bendis     (a) Bryan Hitch
MARVEL’S POST-APOCALYPTIC EVENT CONTINUES!

Uncanny Avengers #5
(w) Rick Remender     (a) Olivier Coipel
WONDER MAN, WASP, AND SUNFIRE JOIN THE UNCANNY AVENGERS!

Young Avengers #3
(w) Kieron Gillen     (a) Jaime McKelvie
MORE AMAZINGNESS FROM GILLEN AND MCKELVIE ON THE LANDMARK SERIES!

———- mini reviews
Fantastic Four #5AU
(w) Matt Fraction     (a) Andre Araujo
AN “AGE OF ULTRON” TIE-IN ISSUE!

The Superior Spider-Man #6AU
(w) Christos Gage     (a) Dexter Soy
AN “AGE OF ULTRON” TIE-IN ISSUE!

Nightwing #18 (mini review)

(w) Kyle Higgins     (a) Juan Jose Ryp


**SPOILERS FOR BATMAN INC #8**


All these “Requiem” issues lamenting the death of Damian Wayne have varying levels of actual requiem-ing. For instance, Batman and Robin #18 processed the tragedy by showcasing Bruce’s spiral into depression, working for days without sleep and becoming increasingly aggressive, all while losing himself in the thought of his dead son. On the flipside, Red Hood and The Outlaws #18 barely makes mention of the events that transpired. Nightwing #18 finds a middle ground with Dick Grayson’s emotional fallout.

While Kyle Higgins does a good job navigating Nightwing through his feelings of guilt and depression, it’s kind of overkill. And not because of how it’s written, but because most of Dick’s emotional eureka moments happen twice. He talks about the destruction of Haly’s Circus twice, he gets pissed at Bruce for lying twice, and he mentions how he and Damian were like brothers twice. It would have worked better if Higgins had perhaps worked his way from having Dick simply understand his situation to Nightwing accepting and processing Damian’s death. Instead, the sentiments are played out by the middle of the issue, leaving Higgin’s big reveal as the main focus of the second half. It’s an interesting enough surprise, but already feels contrived. So, we’ll see.

GRADE: 7/10