[SPOILERS] Warning, these reviews contain spoilers for Batman Incorporated #8, so if you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks and don’t know what happens, you may want to give this a miss for now.
- Aquaman #17
We kick things off this week with the Throne of Atlantis epilogue, as Geoff Johns continues his extremely strong recent run of form. Johns uses this issue to tie up all the loose ends from the arc, and does a tremendous job establishing the new status quo for the freshly-crowned ‘King’ Arthur. We get to see the situation from the perspective of the ‘land-dwellers’, the Atlanteans and, most tellingly, Arthur’s wife Mera. There’s a lot of beautiful artwork to accompany the strong character development, and a nice tease for a new villain in the closing pages. It’s still a little baffling how Aquaman of all people has become one of the major highlights of the DC universe at the moment, but Johns seems to be going from strength to strength here, and it’s going to be extremely interesting to see how Arthur fares under the weight of the Atlantean crown.
- Talon #5 (DC)
James Tynion IV’s Court of Owls spin-off really seems to be picking up steam in recent issues, although admittedly things do slow down just a little after a fairly dramatic and action-packed issue four. We get to focus a little more on the supporting cast here, Casey in particular, and we are also treated to another few extremely memorable scenes with Calvin’s new nemesis, the Butcher of Gotham. This issue also gives a tiny glimpse of just how Calvin’s actions are impacting the Bat-family, and while I’m glad it didn’t take over the comic (we all saw the damage stuff like that did to Batwing), it did serve to give the whole thing a greater perspective as part of the DC universe as a whole. Guillem March’s artwork continues to excel, and his gift for conveying facial expression – not to mention his skill at rendering the more athletic scenes featuring Calvin – really serve this title in good stead for the future. The massive, almost ludicrously difficult heist preparation that dominates this issue seems to end up with a fairly disappointing payoff, but it’ll be interesting to see how things play out from here based on the final panel. All in all, Talon continues to be a solid read without quite managing to hit the ‘excellent’ rating. Still, it’s definitely good enough to stick with for the time being.
- Guardians of the Galaxy #0.1 (Marvel)
I’m nothing if not a comic-buying sheep, and if Marvel are giving me a chance to bone up on my Guardians of the Galaxy knowledge (of which I have precisely zero) ahead of next year’s movie, then who am I to pass up the opportunity? And with the frankly fantastic Brian Michael Bendis providing the writing, I knew it was going to be a fairly safe bet. Well, after reading this issue, consider me on board the bandwagon. This comic features an incredibly cinematic origin story for Star-Lord, and gives a tremendous insight into the life, personality and motivations of what seems like a fairly pivotal character in this series. Steve McNiven absolutely crushes it with the artwork too, managing to convey the emotion of every panel with apparent ease. I’m not sure exactly what to expect from this series as it progresses, given my aforementioned lack of knowledge on the subject, but if the writing and artwork continue to be as powerful and compelling as this ‘preview’ issue, it’s going to be one hell of a ride. It seems like every week I’m adding another great Marvel comic to my pull list, and while my bank balance may not be thanking me, my brain most definitely is. Bring it on!
- Hawkeye #8 (Marvel)
If you’re not reading Hawkeye by now, then there’s really not much I can do for you. Matt Fraction has completely reinvigorated Clint Barton by focusing on his time away from the Avengers, making him a likeable, relatable, and absolutely hilarious (although usually unintentionally) character. David Aja’s sublime artwork makes a return in this issue, and Matt Hollingsworth changes the colour palette to something a little more red/pink this time around, to amazing effect. The story whips along at a fairly brisk pace with the usual crisp dialogue, and the idea of using mock-ups of old comic covers at regular intervals of the story is an absolutely inspired one. There may not be as many ‘laugh out loud’ moments in this comic as in previous issues (although the Iron Fist line is a doozy), but this still remains one of the most engaging, sharply-written books on the shelves, and – as I see to be saying every single month – you seriously need to be reading this.
- FF #4 (Marvel)
If it weren’t for Hawkeye, Matt Fraction’s FF would easily be the most fun comic book on the shelves at the moment. This issue gives a significant amount of focus to She Hulk, and does a fantastic job of portraying a character I hadn’t really known (or cared) much about in the past. The humour of having the children try to stop her date (or “not date”) only to have it continually backfire served as a great counterbalance to the more serious issues going on in the comic, of which there were many. It’s a testament to Fraction’s writing that he’s taken a group of people I don’t really care about, had them replace another group of people I don’t particular care about, and made it into one of the highlights of my comic reading month. To be fair though, a lot of the enjoyment from this comic comes from Mike and Laura Allred’s scintillatingly cartoony artistic style. With vibrant colours, creative panel layouts and expressive, beautifully rendered characters, it’s no exaggeration to say FF is a treat to read every week. This issue featured a nice twist near the end to presumably build excitement for the next issue, but with the series being of such high quality thus far, that hardly seems necessary. Buy this title! Now!
- Uncanny X-Men #2 (Marvel)
Bendis takes his foot off the gas slightly in the second issue of Uncanny X-Men after an absolutely stellar debut, but this still makes for an extremely readably comic due to the strong character work between Emma Frost and Cyclops. Their frank conversation provides the undoubted highlight of the book, and gives a much greater insight into just how they are both feeling about their relationship – or lack therof – in the wake of the events of AvX. This is especially beneficial from Frost, who seems to have fallen by the wayside somewhat in recent comics. The rest of the issue is fairly average, it has to be said, with the exception of some great lines from Magik (another character who has been overlooked lately). Chris Bachalo’s artwork also seems to take a slight step back in quality here, and there’s something about it that just doesn’t work for me this time around. Maybe I’ll figure it out by issue three. The closing pages give a hint of some much-needed action to come, but with a strong, clearly-defined cast of characters and a great potential for expansion, I’m still loving the upside of this comic.
- Transformers – Robots in Disguise #14 (IDW)
The incredibly strong week continues with the latest offering from Cybertron, as John Barber’s ‘political-thriller-that-just-so-happens-to-feature-giant-transforming-robots’ kicks into full gear. There’s a lot to follow here in terms of twists, turns, betrayals, returns, deaths and everything in between, and while a lot of this comic is made up of exposition, it’s just so damn exciting to see all the seeds that have been planted over the previous thirteen issues finally coming to fruition that it never feels like a chore to take it all in. The artwork remains fairly sharp for the most part, and really shines in a few splash pages later in the issue. Barber is crafting an incredibly complicated and exciting tale here, and with what looks to be a monumental showdown on the horizon, you have to think it’s going to get much, much better before all’s said and done. A Transformers comic that you don’t really need to be a Transformers fan to appreciate. Well worth a look.
- Batman Incorporated #8 (DC)
One of the most talked-about comics in recent memory, and one that I’m sure most of you will have read (or at least heard about) by now, Grant Morrison delivers a gut shot for the ages with a comic that manages to deliver the usual sense of fun we’ve come to expect along with some genuine heartfelt emotion and – of course – the shocking finale. Now, from a personal view, I’m going to reserve judgment for at least another issue or two before I start deciding whether it was the right or wrong thing to do. I first need to see if the death is a permanent one, which – given the history of Damian’s family, his grandfather in particular – may not actually be the case. If the change does turn out to be permanent (or as permanent as these things can be), then I will say that I think we’ve been robbed one of the most truly interesting characters in the DC universe for the sake of making a storyline point that could easily have been made any number of ways. But, as I said, I’m going to hold off on my condemnation for the time being. Shocking conclusion aside though, this comic had a lot of extremely nice storytelling touches, including a tremendously moving scene between Damian and Nightwing. The tone of the comic remains unlike any other on the shelves at the moment, and ignoring the potential implications of Morrison’s decision, this remains a top-class read. And, well, this seems like a good time as any to start reading through my Morrison back catalogue, in celebration of what truly has been one hell of a journey.
And that’s all for another extremely memorable comic book day. I seem to have managed to weed out most of the lackluster titles from my pull list, and aside from the occasional misstep, the stuff I’m buying seems to be of a consistently high standard (in my eyes, at least). And while that may not make for particularly interesting reading (“this comic is great… oh, and so is this one!… and this one too!”), it’s definitely good news for me.
Thanks again for taking the time to read my reviews, and I’d love love love to hear your thoughts on this week’s comic offerings (or about comics in general). Remember, we’re always looking for reviews at the BGCP, so if you fancy reviewing pretty much anything, give us a shout.
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