Another smallish pull list this week, but still some great titles in the bag. And, for the first time in a few weeks, we have a comic that most definitely qualifies as bad.
So without any further ago, let’s kick off this week’s reviews with…
Animal Man #21 (DC Comics)
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Steve Pugh, Francis Portela
Review: Since the end of Rotworld, Animal Man has quite possibly been the most consistently high-quality DC title, and that trend continues here with a brilliant issue as we continue to watch Buddy Baker struggling to get his life back together following the death of his son and separation from his wife and daughter.
The entire issue is punctuated by an ongoing ‘Twitter’ style social media feed, showing a wide variety of different perspectives on Baker’s situation and recent Best Actor nomination. Some of the character types on the feed are instantly recognisable to anyone who’s ever used Twitter, and the device itself is an incredibly innovative (and effective) storytelling device to show the media’s ongoing obsession with Baker.
The story alternates between the down-and-out, almost despondent Baker as he struggles with his guilt over Cliff’s death, and his daughter Maxine embracing her role as ‘Avatar of the Red’ and trying to find a way to bring her big brother back. The dialogue throughout the whole issue is top-notch, with some great emotional beats along the way. Steve Pugh and Francis Portella share artistic duties here, and while there are a few panels where the facial detail is lacking slightly, we are also treated to some brilliantly chilling splash pages and visual imagery – particularly the introduction of the truly disturbing ‘Splinterfolk’.
This comic manages to bring horror, drama and a genuine emotional connection to the protagonist, something that I feel is sorely lacking in a lot of ‘superhero’ titles on the shelves these days. Buddy Baker is a man who it’s near impossible not to root for, and who has been through the absolute wringer since the very start of the New 52.
Lemire is doing an incredible job on the writing, and while this title may not be high up on a lot of people’s ‘must read’ lists, all I can do is implore you guys to at least give it a look. There’s a huge amount of quality storytelling going on here, and as many people as possible should get to experience it.
Honourable Mentions: Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-Man #12 (Marvel Comics) continues the title’s incredible turnaround after it stopped pandering to fanboys and actually started telling the story it’s meant to be telling. Some great moments along the way. Fantastic Four #9 (Marvel Comics) by Matt Fraction ramped the creativity up to eleven with yet another self-contained story surrounding the origins of Doctor Doom. And finally, Batman & Batgirl #21 (DC Comics) by Peter J. Tomasi provided an emotionally charged exchange between the titular characters as Bruce continues to work through the five stages of grief.
Age of Ultron #10 (Marvel Comics)
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Loads of people…
Review: Finally, after ten issues, the incredibly divisive event entitled ‘Age of Ultron’ has come to an end. And after about £30 of investment, the burning question on a lot of people’s minds is… was it worth it?
Don’t get me wrong, the event started off extremely promisingly, with a bleak ‘alternate present’ which saw earth’s mightiest heroes forced to cower in the shadows under the planet-spanning rule of Ultron. These issues featured great characterisation and some defining moments of sacrifice and heroism, and laid an extremely strong groundwork for the rest of the event. But somehow, somewhere along the line, the series it lost its way. Badly.
One pointless moment followed the next. Vision was introduced seemingly for one shocking panel before quickly being disregarded. The majority of the surviving heroes headed into the future to battle Ultron face-to-face in a mouth-watering battle that we bafflingly didn’t see any of. Morgana Le Fey and an alternate timeline Avengers were introduced then instantly discarded as the series jerked on to the next confusing set-piece. But hey, they had to be building to a big finish, right? A final beautiful moment of clarify where all of the threads came together and Ultron was thwarted once and for all, right?
Never has the word ‘anti-climax’ been more appropriate.
After several pages of recycled artwork, the final showdown of Ultron plays out in a predictable, almost clichéd manner, before the comic turns into a slightly more expensive ‘previews’ section for the upcoming series’ spinning out of the event.
Granted, some of the concepts are cool, such as Galactus setting his sights on the Ultimate Universe, but these are things that could easily have been set up in a comic or two rather than in what now appears to be a completely pointless ten issue series.
So to answer my earlier question of ‘was it worth it?’…no, no it wasn’t. Despite a few redeeming moments along the way, the whole thing ended up being a jumbled mess whose sole purpose seemed to be the promotion yet more spin-off comics. Poor show, Marvel. Poor show.
(Dis)Honourable Mentions: Due to the small pull list, there was nothing else ‘bad’ this week, thankfully.
Indestructible Hulk #9 (Marvel Comics)
Cover by Paolo Rivera
After a brief hiccup (sorry Walt) over the last few issues, Mark Waid’s Hulk is back on form, and this cover by Rivera is the cherry on the sundae. A terrific concept to begin with as we see Matt and DD playing the ‘Angel/Devil’ role, capped off with a an absolutely stunning looking Hulk. A brilliant idea beautifully realised. Love it.
And that, as they say, is that. Let me know what you guys thought, and what you enjoyed (and didn’t enjoy) from this week’s comic crop.
And don’t forget to tune in again next Saturday. Same Ceej time, same Ceej channel!
The Author of this piece was: