Boy, do we have a great Lightning Review for you this week! Welcome to my rundown of all the new comics I read this week, both from my personal pull list and a variety of material provided by Comic Crusaders for my input. Last week, I recommended 6 of the 10 comics I critiqued. Will this week flop? Or will my fuller pull list raise the bar? Let’s get to it!
Civil War II X-Men #1- PULL! Now this is a title deserving of the X-Men! I love Cullen Bunn’s writing, but have avoided Uncanny X-Men up to this point because I had no real investment in any of the team members and it all felt very X-Force but not X-Force. However, after reading this, I may have to catch up on his current run of the book. This has some of the best art in any X-books in the last year and balances the Uncanny and Extraordinary teams nicely. I also love that the feud between these groups is not about whether or not we should try to use knowledge of the future to our advantage, but rather that the Inhumans may or may not use their clairvoyant against mutantkind. Finally, I am very very excited about Nightcrawler being relevant to a story! I’m so glad I decided to pick this up at the last-minute, because I feel like it’s gonna be a great tie-in. Who knows? Maybe Kurt Wagner is destined for greater things.
Deadpool #14- PASS! While I love the Civil War Tie-In aspect of this issue, there is a reason I do not pull the Mercs for Money solo title. Aside from Slapstick, I don’t really care about any of those guys. This issue does address the ongoing lack of payment for services rendered and Deadpool’s constant absence from the team, which is good for continuity’s sake, but this is a solo title and I like it that way. Crossovers (like the great Deadpool #13, which I reviewed in full two weeks ago) and guest stars (like Sabretooth in the last arc) are fine for this title, but there is a reason Deadpool is featured in Uncanny Avengers as well: to show off his team dynamic and for comic relief. There is nothing wrong with the writing or Mike Hawthorne’s art, as they are both well executed and work well in this comic tie-in, but by making this also crossover with Mercs for Money, it feels like less of a Deadpool comic. He’s technically only in 7 pages of this comic. This is a good comic, but I’ll be happy when it’s back to Deadpool just doing his own thing again in this title.
I Hate Fairyland #6- PULL! I sure missed this book, but after a three-month break, Skottie Young returns with his muffin fluffing demented queen of Fairyland. The contradiction of style and content is such a wild ride for the reader, with Jean-Francois Beaulieu adding vibrant colors to some of the most twisted stuff I’ve ever read. It seems happy and cartoonish, but oh the humanity… it’s violent. For those who missed the first trade, shame on you. It involves a 6-year-old nightmare named Gertrude who has been trapped in a magical land against her will for thirty years causing complete mayhem trying to escape. Now, the newly appointed queen is feeling cabin fever stuck in her castle ready to fluff some stuff up with no outlet for her aggression. This is a fantastic yet extremely mature comic is for the child at heart and the psychotic in mind.
My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #43- PULL! After two phenomenal single issue stories courtesy of Price and Cook, this title was due for an arc involving the entire cast and spanning several issues. After a successful mission, the Mane Six stop at a mysterious new hot spring for a swim that turns out to drastically alter their personalities into control hungry exaggerations of their greatest desires. It’s up to Princess Luna, Spike, and the Cutie Mark Crusaders to help their friends snap out of whatever spell they’re under. Tony Fleecs does a great job turning our favorite ponies evil, especially Pinkie Pie whose maniacal laughing and demeanor are reminiscent of a certain Batman villain. Thom Zahler writes the characters in true MLP fashion and really pushes those traits that we love about Applejack and Twilight Sparkle to the extreme. I can’t say I prefer this to the previous two issues, but my interest in the upcoming issue is higher due to the continuation of the storyline.
Spidey #7- PULL! Robbie Thompson does it again, delivering a top-notch Spider-Man story, as he teams up with Black Panther against the Klaw, who has spent his time in obscurity collecting vibranium and making an improved sound emitting device! I love this title because we see a young Peter Parker struggle to balance his super life with his real life, and this is my favorite version of the character. There is a reason all the movies have him start out in high school! So, while his time with Black Panther is fun and memorable, I actually really enjoyed his internal conflict with tutoring his bully Flash Thompson. Also, his revelation on how to beat Klaw was pretty brilliant. This is Andre Araujo’s last issue doing the art and I like it well enough, but I’m still partial to Nick Bradshaw’s stuff in the first issues. Let’s hope the next guy (or gal) is more to my liking.
A&A The Adventures of Archer and Armstrong #4- PULL! This is a great buddy comic featuring two very different heroes who provide plenty of action and laughs. The first arc of this title comes to a close in this issue, where Bacchus the giant drunken party god is wreaking havoc using naked frat boys and it is up to our heroes and the Sisters of Perpetual Darkness to stop him. The artist David LaFuente does not adhere to panel placement conventions, with one page having over 50 of different size and shape. All the characters have some great moments and the end of the comic leaves the reader interested in the next one despite being a clear end to the story at hand. I enjoyed how writer Rafer Roberts included little definitions and explanations for Archer’s fighting moves. This is a win for Valiant.
Judge Dredd: MegaCity Zero Vol 1- PASS! So, when I reviewed the issue following the issues included in this trade, I recommended it due to the fresh take with colors, kids, and a pug. However, I did not enjoy this near as much as I thought I would due to the bar set by the last experience. Granted, this still beats the traditional Judge Dredd circulating, but this has never been my preference of comic book. Big city justice is now the responsibility of anyone who wants to put on a uniform and Dredd finds himself escorting three kids to jail, even though his authority is not recognized. This is violent and graphic, although the language is censored in this world, the atmosphere is one of verbal abuse. Plus, puppy kicking is an actual punishment and I just can’t support a comic like that. I guess I’m back to hating Judge Dredd, regardless of who publishes it…
Low #14- PULL! So, I’m used to Rick Remender writing good, unique stories and Low is no different. In this issue, the survivors of an irradiated world are traversing the landscape in search of a means to escape, when unexpected car trouble leaves them stranded! The artwork and color palette are wonderful, especially the reds and yellows that dominate many full-page spreads. I don’t know how far in the future Low takes place, but the evolution the takes place among all life forms is quite spectacular. Despite the nuclear apocalypse, the characters still maintain their humanity, as exhibited through their bickering and conflict with one another. The art itself is enough to add this to your pull list, but fourteen issues may be too much for me to catch up with my current workload. Bummer…
Lords of the Jungle #4- PULL! With a new Tarzan movie coming out this summer, this comic is a smart choice to get wild. However, this story takes place after Tarzan has been somewhat civilized, so he isn’t a vine swinging savage in these pages, but rather a partner to Jane who just happens to be king of the jungle. Sheena has travelled in time by accident and is being pursued by fellow time travelers from the future who plan to abuse the time stream. The art looks like Rob Liefeld took some much-needed technique classes. I enjoyed the blend of time periods and the action scenes, but the lack of raw Tarzan jungle goodness was a con for me. But Sheena is eye candy and that works for me.
The Mighty Zodiac #3- PULL! I wrote a full review for The Mighty Zodiac #1 in April but did not have the opportunity to read the second issue. However, from what I can tell, the story and art have maintained their high quality into this issue. We see every animal from the Chinese zodiac represented here (and a cat for some reason) in the race to collect fallen stars for Master Long. The shadow rabbit army is relentless though and threaten the life of a young monkey to attain their prize. The comic is very story oriented, without resorting to gimmicks or gags. The mythos is key in this book, with plenty of backstory and history of the characters. It is clearly a kids comic, but it isn’t dumb, and for that I must give Oni Press and the creators serious props.
O-Men #2.11- PASS! Even if you ignore that this is clearly an X-Men knockoff and that there is no color, O-Men is still a terrible comic. The opening page is a total mess attempting to introduce the different characters and their team affiliations, but it just comes off as a cluttered coloring page from Highlights magazine. I’d say the characters are two-dimensional, but that gives them way too much credit. As an X-Men fan, this comes across as a back alley abortion of a bastard of that concept. The Institute is run by “Doctor O” who isn’t actually present for any of the action. The art is just plain awful, clearly exhibited on the last page of the comic, and all the pages. Martin Eden should seriously reconsider his profession because I had difficulty finding a single redeeming quality in these 20 pages.
The Tomorrows #6- PULL! I missed everything prior to this finale, but there are some noteworthy successes in this comic that led to my thumbs up. The writing in this is good, although I felt confused at times as to the intention of including certain elements. Our team of heroes don’t seem to have any superpowers, but borrow elements like laser swords and visors that resemble Cyclops’ that make them seem so. There are emotional scenes between teammates and astral plane coolness, but the best part of this, I feel, is the villain. He’s a Nihilistic enabler of the end of the world that reminds me of Arcade or Lex Luther who watches our heroes try to save the day on a bank of monitors. The art style isn’t my favorite, but I can respect the interpretations by the artist. I also appreciated the footnotes included for further research by the reader. I didn’t think I’d like this, but it was pretty good stuff.
This week had some great comics come out with a couple of real stinkers. Nine recommendations out of twelve total reviews brings this week’s average rating up to 3.75, which I will round-up to 3.8 out of 5 Lightning Bolts
This isn’t including the two very positive full reviews posted this week, which are linked below. Follow me on Twitter (@bamfingbob) for all my content as well as my opinions on pop culture and world news. Also, just heads up, I will be posting my reviews as early as possible next week as I will be spending the weekend at Niagara Falls for my fourth wedding anniversary with my wife. This content includes an exclusive interview with the incredibly talented Gene Ha! The link to my review of his first issue of Mae is also below. Treat Yo’ Self! And as always, don’t forget to BAMF!