The Week in Revue (Aug 28 – Sep 3, 2013)

Spotlight

Batman Incorporated Special #1

(w) Chris Burnham, Joe Keatinge, Dan Didio

(a) Chris Burnham, Ethan Van Sciver, Jason Masters

DC Reviews

Batman/Superman #3

(w) Greg Pak

(a) Jae Lee

Justice League #23 –> DC Comics News Review!

(w) Geoff Johns

(a) Ivan Reis, Joe Prado

The Flash #23

(w) Francis Manapul, Brian Buccellato

(a) Francis Manapul

Marvel Reviews

Captain America #10

(w) Rick Remender

(a) Joh Romita Jr.

Young Avengers #9

(w) Kieron Gillen

(a) Jaime McKelvie

Guardians of the Galaxy #5 Review

(w) Brian Michael BendisGuardiansOfTheGalaxy_5_VariantManara

(a) Sara Pichelli

Age of Ultron hit the Marvel universe pretty hard, but it’s only in the last two weeks that we’ve seen the real ramifications of this event play out a bit. Last week, Joshua Hal Fialkov’s Hunger began with Galactus entering the Ultimate universe through a rip in the fabric of the multiverse. This week, Bruce Banner began his own foray into the effects of the crack in space and time, and Guardians of the Galaxy #5 brings readers the most direct connection between the Age of Ultron and the upcoming Infinity event that’s set to span the Earth and the entire universe. At the end of Age of Ultron, the crack that spread throughout all space and time and dimensions caused the character Angela — of Neil Gaiman origin — to get tossed into the Marvel universe with no idea what has happened to her. While we don’t get to see why, we do get to see what happens when she finally encounters some resistance.

I wasn’t a fan of Rocket Raccoon for the first few issues. I felt like Bendis was overwriting the character, making him more slapstick than necessary. Finally, he feels like a real character instead of a caricature of Rocket Raccoon. And in true Bendis style, the interpersonal relationship drama between Tony Stark and Gamora is just a treat to read. These guys may be saving the galaxy, but they’re also awkwardly waving and being withholding. Space operas are great, but when they’re grounded in organic storytelling rooted in human emotion, they reach a new level of relatability and overall readability. Guardians of the Galaxy has suffered from delays which causes any momentum it gains with each issue to severely drop once the next issue doesn’t show up for a over a month. That much aside, Bendis is still telling a superb tale of intergalactic politics that play directly into Earth going-ons.

It was cool when Angela showed up in Age of Ultron #10, but it was a fleeting moment that is properly followed up here in Guardians of the Galaxy #5. This issue should have come out the week after AoU #10 because it would have kept the momentum going on the Angela train. Instead, everyone was hyped about it, then it was over for a month. Marvel had to hype up Angela all over again for the release of this issue. I know I’m nitpicking about release schedules and timing issues, but it’s all important when considering how Marvel’s timeline is working this year with two major events. Age of Ultron ended just over a month ago and Infinity is set to begin next month. Guardians of the Galaxy #5 is a great interlude issue that connects the two events, but I fear further delays could temper the impact future issues could make. I usually don’t judge a single issue based on future happenings, but in this case, it’s appropriate. Angela and the Guardians are going to be a big part of Infinity, but if the issues aren’t there, how hard can they really hit when they come out?

GRADE

7/10

The Week in Revue (July 31 – Aug 6, 2013)

Spotlight

Batman Incorporated #13

(w) Grant Morrison

(a) Chris Burnham

DC Reviews

Batman Annual #2

(w) Scott Snyder

(a) Wes Craig

The Flash Annual #2

(w) Brian Buccellato

(a) Sami Basri

Trinity of Sin: Pandora #2

(w) Ray Fawkes

(a) Daniel Sampere, Vicente Cifuentes

Marvel Reviews

Guardians of the Galaxy #5

(w) Brian Michael Bendis

(a) Sara Pichelli

X-Men #3

(w) Brian Wood

(a) Olivier Coipel

Guardians of the Galaxy #3 Review

(w) Brian Michael Bendis
(a) Steve McNiven and Sara Pichelli

Though it started slow, I’ve really been digging Guardians of the Galaxy. Brian Michael Bendis is at his best writing epic, team-based stories, and this series checks off both those boxes. Man fans of the previous iterations of the Guardians were upset with the way Bendis basically ignored a lot of what came before in exchange for his own vision of the franchise. I never read any Guardians stories before this, so all I have to go on are these three issues (and the #0.1).

Guardians of the Galaxy #3 finds the team in the clutches of mean old King J-Son, Peter Quill’s father and the ruler of the Spartax Empire. It’s been pretty obvious since issue one that J-Son has some sort of scheme a-brewin due to his general withholding nature, the very existence of the galactic council he seems to lead, and the overall vagueness of everything he says. I’d be more frustrated with how enigmatic J-Son and his agenda are if I wasn’t as familiar with Bendis’ work as I am.

Other than that, the narrative is exciting and fast-paced without feeling rushed. Bendis is at his best writing teams. His work on the Avengers franchise is more than enough evidence to this fact. Guardians of the Galaxy #3 really conveys just how legendary this team of heroes is, though many consider them menaces and pirates. Basically, this series allows for Bendis to use all his favorite tropes in one place: pomp and grandeur, deriving conflict and character development from emotional resonance, the proverbial “David vs. Goliath”, divisive interpretations of consequential happenings. All of this stuff can be seen in Guardians of the Galaxy #3. Bendis graduated from the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to the defenders of the entire galaxy.

GRADE
8/10

The Week in Revue (June 12-18, 2013)

——- Spotlight
Superman Unchained #1
(w) Scott Snyder
(a) Jim Lee

——- DC Reviews

Batman #21
(w) Scott Snyder
(w) Greg Capullo

Green Lantern Corps #21
(w) Robert Vendetti and Van Jensen
(a) Bernard Chang


——- Marvel Reviews
Guardians of the Galaxy #3
(w) Brian Michael Bendis
(a) Steve McNiven and Sara Pichelli

Thor: God of Thunder #9
(w) Jason Aaron
(a) Esad Ribic

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!