batman incorporated

This Week’s Best

spider-man batman superman reviewsI read about 30 new books a week. This is a pretty good sized haul considering that the overwhelming majority of books I read are from Marvel and DC and are super hero books. It’s not like all I like is Big Two capes books it’s just that these stories work in this format for me the most. The rest of what I read comes in trade paper back for me. Since Marvel and DC books are so interconnected, I like to keep up.

That all said, I’ve been dropping more DC books than I have in a long time and picking up many more Marvel books. It’s been widely reported that DC is losing market share as well as critical acclaim as the New 52 continues. The Batman books have been the only DC books that have consistently stayed at the top of my pile. Animal Man and Aquaman have and continue to be some of my favorite books while Scott Snyder leaving Swamp Thing has me worried. Either way, here are the standouts from this week:

 

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_5Uncanny X-Men #5

Marvel Comics

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Frasier Irving

This is starting to really feel like an X-Men book now. It’s a totally new era but what makes X-Men books work is all intact here. Enemies from all sides, love triangles, mysteries, an all powerful villain, humans fearing them, in-fighting, new mutants, powers not working…this really has it all! This was billed as the true flagship X-Men book before it came out and I found that hard to believe. Wolverine and the X-Men felt like the true flagship book to me. Then I thought about it more. Wolverine and the X-Men represents the Morrison-era X-Men style of a book while Uncanny X-Men represents the more classic X-Men team. Uncanny has more baggage and is the outlaw team with a manageable roster. I think both styles work and are just as legitimate. This issue let the action die down just a bit in order for the interactions to have their place. The expansion of this team feels organic and really has me wanting more.

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Batman-Inc-10-variantBatman Incorporated #10

DC Comics

Writer: Grant Morrison

Artists: Chris Burnham & Jason Masters

While not my favorite issue recently, Batman Inc. books are still some of the best on the shelves. This one felt a bit slow till the last page and somewhat redundant but I see why Morrison made these choices. With three issues left in his HUGE run on Batman, this issue brought in elements from a variety of his past stories that are all going to build towards the finale. I love the idea that Batman is pulling out all the stops to take on Leviathan. Incorporating his Batbots, the Suit of Sarrows, and the Man-Bat Serum to give him the edge he needs makes this feel as big as it should be. The Al Ghul “family” is coming apart and it’s going to be a factor for the future of Batman. This had one of the best last pages of a Batman book that I can remember. If this was a Rocky movie, it’s where you would hear his theme music starting up. Game on!

Avengers_Arena_Vol_1_8Avengers Arena #8

Marvel Comics

Writer: Dennis Hopeless

Artist: Kev Walker

Last issue took time away from the main story (which had one crazy ending) to give us the set-up of Arcade to the way we find him in issue #1. This issue takes us back to the scene of Kid Briton’s death and we see how everyone is dealing with it. With as many characters with powers there are in this book, this never feels like a super hero book. These teens are confused real sounding characters who are way out of their element. This title grows on me with each issue. Once I got over if this whole story was happening in a virtual reality or not I finally fully committed to what’s been going on. Combining all these eras of Marvel teens from every corner of the Marvel U really works because the cliches feel very tenuous and alliances feel strained throughout. I’ve read many of these characters in the titles they came from so the accumulation of all those stories really enhances this for me. As a Darkhawk fan from the 90s as well as someone who has never missed a Runaways appearance, this book had a great twist for me. I recommend this book to non super hero fans as well as seasoned Marvel Zombies. There’s really something for everyone here and Kev Walker’s art is always crisp and approachable.

This week’s Worst

X-Termination_Vol_1_2

X-Termination #2 – Conclusion

Marvel Comics

Writers: David Lapham, Marjorie Liu, Greg Pak
Artists: David Lopez, Guillermo Mogorron, Raul Valdes, Matteo Lolli, Don Ho, Lorenzo Ruggiero, Carlos Cuevas, Allen Martinez
It’s really rare that I use this space as a place to complain about comics. For the most part, I’m dedicated to talking about what I like in comics and letting people know about it. This storyline and this issue (in particular) is awful. Uncoordinated collaborative writing and art made this feel like the obvious editorially mandated story that it was. Two so/so X-Men books that everyone knew would be canceled crossover with the least important X-Men title (Astonishing) to combine into a really basic story that ends two titles. Extreme X-Men was the new version of the Exiles which means it was a reality jumping title that was basically Sliders meets the X-Men. Crossing that title with Age of Apocalypse makes sense because that’s another alternate reality X-Men title with low sales. The contributions made by the various artists seem rushed and are very inconsistent from page to page. It was jarring. The ending was obvious from the from the first page and it felt like everyone was just going through the motions. The upshot is that I will be picking up two less mediocre books from now on so at least there’s that.