Cloonan's "Punisher" Is A "Violent, Bullet-Riddled, Bleeding" Good Time
The Avengers are once again assembling, this time under the watchful eye of writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Jerome Opena.
“The idea is that the Avengers have to get bigger,” Hickman told Comic Book Resources. “That means bigger in every sense. That means the roster has to be bigger, and the missions have to be bigger, and the adversaries and scenarios they find themselves in have to be larger. I’ve played with this stuff a little bit over in the Ultimate Universe. Obviously, it’s a completely different weight class here, but in a lot of ways that’s the kind of velocity that the book should have. We (Tom Brevoort and I) also felt like that if the book was going to be about an Avengers world, it should look more like the world. Of course there are complications starting out when the necessary movie characters are five white dudes and a white lady, but, you know, bigger roster. Frankly, I’m really, really excited at how we address that. The lineup is killer.”
Is bigger better? Here are a few thoughts from around the web:
Martin Gray, Too Dangerous for a Girl: “Writer Jonathan Hickman makes a confident Avengers debut, introducing new threats, promising big things and couching it all in a framework that manages to feel mythic, but not pompous. Ex Nihilo, apparently a ‘Higher Evolutionary’, has the calm arrogance of the supposed superior being, while main Avengers players Iron Man and Cap carry the assurance of men who have stared down gods, and beaten them. The capture of five Avengers, prompting Cap to break out the new team, has echoes of the All-New X-Men’s debut with Krakoa, but it’s a classic set-up because it works. And the difference here is that Iron Man saw that something this big was coming, so he and Cap have spent the previous month signing up new recruits, putting them on call.”
The Marvel NOW line-up continues to roll out first issues galore, with this past Wednesday bringing the snappiest-looking relaunch so far–FF #1 by Matt Fraction, Michael Allred, Laura Allred and Clayton Cowles. The sister title to Marvel’s original first family, FF #1 features a hand-picked replacement team that’s needed to fill in for Reed and company for a whole four minutes. What could possibly go wrong?
If you were on the fence about the title, here are a few opinions from around the web to help you decide which way to fall:
Ryan K. Lindsay, Comic Book Resources: “FF #1 looked to be the wildest book of the Marvel NOW! line up: Matt Fraction and Michael Allred on a crazy new science team for the Fantastic Four world. It was one of those books that was either going to be too good to be true or belly flop hard. Unfortunately, this issue doesn’t give much of an indicator either way except to leave worry it’s not off to a dazzling start — not that it feels like it’s started yet.”
Rick Remender has the unenviable task of following Ed Brubaker on Captain America, a book that Brubaker took to new heights during his seven-year run on the character. Based on the review so far, though, it seems that Remender is not only up to the task, he’s taking Cap in a completely different direction, with a different tone and focus that most folks seem to be responding well to. Along with artists John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson, Remender has sent Cap off to Dimension Z, for some “high adventure/science fiction” fun.
“It’s a departure from the standard operating procedure of Captain America, definitely,” said Romita. “We are in a different ballgame here. This is as far away from what I expected for Cap as you can get and I’m really enjoying this.”
Here are a few reviews to let you know how different the ballgame is now, and how well the new team’s doing in their first inning:
Ryan K. Lindsay, Comic Book Resources: “Captain America #1 from Rick Remender and John Romita Jr. with Klaus Janson doesn’t so much walk away from Ed Brubaker’s defining run on the character over the past seven years as it does leap frog it. There was obviously no point in trying to ape Brubaker at his A game, so instead Remender swerves Cap back toward his pulpier roots. This issue begins a strange tale that sees the Sentinel of Liberty fight the Green Skull and get embroiled with Arnim Zola in Dimension Z.”
The Marvel NOW! roll out continued this week with three titles–Matt Fraction and Mark Bagley’s Fantastic Four, All-New X-Men by Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen, and the subject of today’s Chain Reactions, Thor: God of Thunder by Jason Aaron, Esad Ribic, Dean White and Joe Sabino.
“It’s darker and grittier and in some ways it’s maybe the closest I’ve gotten to something like Scalped, which is the only real crime book that I’ve ever done,” Aaron told Comic Book Resources about the first issue. “Thor of course has things like gods, flying horses, and crazy new worlds in deep space. I like that we can do a crime story with those trappings. There will also be some horror and, of course, fantasy elements as well, and I think at the end of the day this is a story that stays true to what the character of Thor has always been.”
What was the reaction to their take on Thor? Here are a few reactions from around the ‘net …
Martin Gray, Too Dangerous for a Girl: “You can’t fault writer Jason Aaron for lack of ambition, when his debut on this Marvel Now! relaunch spans the ages and spaceways, and Thor himself shows several sides – warrior, big brother … even detective. There’s plenty of interest in his triptych of tales, as dark drama is leavened with humour. The changes in Thor’s narration as he moves from ebullient youth to god in his prime to elder deity are subtle, yet distinct. And the mood of foreboding is strong.”
As I mentioned on Friday, a whole bunch of first issues landed on Wednesday, making it difficult to choose what to feature this week. So I thought I’d do a second Chain Reactions to focus on something that may be a little more under-the-radar than the new Deadpool comic–Storm Dogs #1 by David Hine, Doug Braithwaite and Ulises Arreola.
The “science-fiction crime thriller” shows what happens when “a uniquely skilled team arrives on a frontier planet to investigate a series of bizarre and violent deaths. Forced to rely on primitive technology, they soon learn what it means to be aliens in a hostile environment. If they are to unravel the mysteries of Amaranth they will also have to learn what it is to be human.” At least according to the solicitation text.
So what did folks think of it? Here’s a few thoughts from around the web:
Benjamin Bailey, IGN: “Science-fiction is having a good run in comic books lately. There’s lots of really great titles out there that range from violent to bizarre to epic. Enter Storm Dogs, a cool book that seems to be setting up some really great stuff. The story revolves around a group CSI agents of sorts, that are investigating a series of murders on a distant planet. Oh, and the rain on said planet will melt your face off. Mix in some cool alien races a few giant monsters and you have the makings of a one very awesome science-fiction comic book.”
It was a tough week here at Camp Chain Reactions, trying to pick from the half-dozen or so first issues that arrived on Wednesday. Luckily there was nothing on the ballot Tuesday that ruled against doing more than one of these roundups each week, so expect to see one or two more before Monday.
Speaking of elections, let’s start off with a book that apparently (I haven’t read it yet) features zombie presidents: Deadpool #1. Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn tag team on the writing, as Tony Moore and Val Staples provide the art. Do they do justice to the merc with a mouth? Here are a few opinions from around the web:
Kelly Thompson, Comic Book Resources: “Duggan and Posehn take just the right tack for a Wade Wilson book, coming up with an outlandish idea of resurrected former presidents out to destroy America so that they can rebuild it. Dead president zombies on the loose is a concept that effortlessly inserts Deadpool into working for S.H.I.E.L.D., of all places. The result is comedy gold. Duggan and Posehn, in addition to conceiving of a perfect plot for Wade, have a good handle on his energy and sense of humor. Not every joke lands, but the ones that do are great and the ones that don’t still make a reader groan good-naturedly. Zombie FDR making jokes about a ‘new deal?’ This is fun.”
Halloween saw the debut of a psychological horror/mystery series by writer Nick Spencer and artist Riley Rossmo – Bedlam, the story of a former mass murderer who finds himself consulting with the police department. Here’s how Spencer described the main character to CBR earlier this year when it was announced:
“Madder Red is a homicidal maniac and criminal overlord in the city of Bedlam until he is finally brought to justice after his worst attack on the city ever,” Spencer explained of the series. “After his trial, he is found insane and sent to an institution wherein he undergoes experimental treatments that cure him of his mania. After a few years of close supervision and testing, he is released. He’s undeniably cured – no longer ill and no longer a thread to society. So he’s a free man, and he finds himself living in transitional housing for former mental patients, undergoes extensive plastic surgery to get a new identity and finds himself slowly but surely being drawn back into the world he was once a part of.
“He finds himself compulsively studying serial killings and crime in the city of Bedlam, and he’s eventually recruited by the police department to become a consultant for them. The story is about his new life with a secret past. He’s the worst murderer the city has ever seen, and now he’s around all these people day-to-day who have no idea who he is.”
So does it sizzle or fizzle? Here are a few snippets of reviews from around the web …
Multiple Warheads: Alphabet to Infinity #1, written and drawn by King City creator Brandon Graham, arrived in stores on Wednesday. It’s not the first time the characters have appeared, but it’s been five years since the first Multiple Warheads one-shot was published by Oni Press, so likely they’re new to a lot of readers. Our own J. Caleb Mozzocco shared his review Thursday, but if that wasn’t enough to help you decide whether it’s worth your hard-earned dollars, here are some reviews from around the web:
Greg McElhatton, Comic Book Resources: “If this is your first experience with Multiple Warheads you don’t need to worry; not only is there only a little material already out there, but Graham brings you up to speed on the few things you do need to know about Sexica, Nikolai, and Nura. The reason why it’s just a few things is that in part half of the fun of Multiple Warheads: Alphabet to Infinity #1 is just soaking up the strange world that Graham’s created as his characters make their way through it. The book opens and closes with Nik and Sex traveling across the country, picking up singing cigarettes and testing the local water to see if it’s safe to drink or if it might be poisoned or haunted or worse. When some of the other water options include ‘living water’ and ‘forced immortality,’ it’s the first hint on just what a strange yet wonderful world Graham has created.”
Marvel NOW! is, well, now, with the launch of the you-got-your-chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter comic Uncanny Avengers last Wednesday. The first issue, by Rick Remender, John Cassaday, Laura Martin and Chris Eliopoulos, follows up on the conclusion of Avengers vs. X-Men as Captain America forms a new team that brings together members from those previously competing rivals.
Is the mix-and-match strategy oil and water, or a yummy Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup? Here are a few thoughts from around the web:
Alex Evans, Weekly Comic Book Review: “For those familiar with Rick Remender’s work, this title is very different from anything we’ve seen from him prior. With John Cassaday’s slick, polished artwork, this is the big, flagship Marvel Comic sort of book. Rest assured, however, that Remender nonetheless nails it, giving us an issue that almost feels like an issue from an event. That said, while Remender’s usual weirdness takes a backseat, it’s still very much there, giving the book a real edge to it.”
Marvel’s latest blockbuster crossover series, Avengers vs. X-Men, which was written by everybody and drawn by everybody else, wrapped up this week. Issue #12 featured writer Jason Aaron in the driver’s seat, while Adam Kubert, John Dell and Mark Morales provided the visuals for the big finale.
So did the ending sizzle or fizzle? Carla shared her thoughts on Friday, and here are a few more opinions from around the web (beware of spoilers in many of the links):
James Hunt, Comic Book Resources: “…the final issue manages to pull the disparate story threads together and deliver a conclusion that, somehow, is satisfying. In part, that’s because it cheats, pretending that previous issues hit story beats that they manifestly didn’t. The issue opens with a recap that doesn’t quite resemble what came before, and a clutch of flashback scenes plug in story elements one suspects should have been made clearer much earlier on. The editorial lurch is self-evident, and jarring — but crucially, it’s one that’s forgivable, because it improves the issue and clears the way for the finale the event deserved.”
Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson released a new creator-owned series this week, mashing up crime comics and, um, silly animal comics? No, that doesn’t seem quite right. In any event, Happy! #1 landed on store shelves this week, and how happy did it make reviewers? Here are a few from around the web:
Chris Arrant, iFanboy: “Everyone involved in this book has kept the details of what the story is about relatively under wraps, pitching the world the idea of a disgraced cop being haunted by an imaginary blue horse after finding himself in the cross-hairs of the cops and the criminals he now works for. While the actual story hits those beats, Morrison and Robertson (along with Clark’s excellent coloring) really build up a textured world of criminals, crooked cops in the dirty snow-as-slush lined streets of an unnamed urban city. The creative team really fleshes out a seedy world pulled from the pages of pulp novels to a tee, before it gets crazy.”
Jason Serafino, Complex: As Morrison usually does, he uses Happy to employ the grittiness and overt violence that have become clichéd in comics as a way to satirize the industry. Until its eponymous character debuts, the issue moves along like so many comics we have seen recently with its morose tone and gore, but that flying blue horse introduces a Looney Tunes quality to the issue that’s almost poking fun at the current state of dread and violence in comics. It’s almost as if Morrison is daring creators to liven up and add a little blue horse of their own into their books.”
As DC’s “Zero Month” continues, this past week they introduced a brand new comic into the mix with Sword of Sorcery #0. The comic features two stories; the first is the return of Amethyst, written by Christy Marx and drawn by Aaron Lopresti, and the second is Beowulf by Tony Bedard and Jesus Saiz. It’s been a really long time since either concept graced the pages of DC Comics, so how did the new takes stack up? Here are some thoughts and comments from around the web:
Matthew Santori-Griffith, Comicosity: “DC is delivering my favorite of the New 52 Wave 3 titles so far with Sword of Sorcery, proffering two very different, but equally compelling, protagonists in Amy Winston/Amethyst and Beowulf. Marx and Bedard are both crafting very introductory tales here, but I actually can’t fault them for it. The take here is more fantasy than super-hero and readers may need a little more set-up for the less familiar genre tales.”
Minhquan Nguyen, Weekly Comic Book Review: “The plot itself is nothing much: the reclamation of a throne, a family power struggle, warring houses, and ancient history. This is Fantasy 101, but Marx seems to recognize that, so we should expect some new ideas down the line. In fact, Marx begins the process by drawing upon the rest of the DCU for inspiration, including the unexpected appearance of a certain magical mainstay towards the end. You don’t expect this particular bloke to show up in this particular title.”
Dex Parios returned to comics this week in the second volume of Stumptown by Greg Rucka, Matthew Southworth and Rico Renzi, as she begins to tackle “The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case.” Did the long-awaited return of Portland’s finest and feistiest private investigator deliver? Here are just a few reviews from around the web:
Matthew Santori-Griffith, Comicosity: “Volume one of Stumptown is probably one of my favorite comic series of the last few years, and for good reason. It’s the perfect blend of character focus, beautiful art, high production value, and sharp detail that makes lead character Dex Parios so brilliant to watch in action. Coming in with such high expectation off a previous volume (or case, as the books are titled), the start of volume two had a mighty hill to climb. I can say it succeeds in every way to match up to my expectation.”
Grant McLaughlin, The Weekly Crisis: “It is a noticeable departure from the tone of the original series, but it’s not a complete one-eighty. While Greg Rucka illustrates Dex’s stabler lifestyle by showing her unpacking the office, he also in certain to demonstrate that the Dex we know and love is still alive and well. A major part of the first volume was Dex’s own personal code of honour, which went a long way in making her a sympathetic character (well, that and her interactions with the book’s supporting cast), and although that initial scene might be a little confusing for readers new to the character, it reinforces that code and how capable of a private investigator Dex is.”
DC Comics celebrates the first year of the New 52 relaunch by declaring September “Zero Month,” where each #0 issue of their titles takes us back in time before the events we’ve seen over the last 12 months. This week saw the release of several zero issues, including Action Comics by Grant Morrison and Ben Oliver. These zero issues, no doubt, are the “perfect jumping on” point for new or lapsed readers who may have fallen off certain titles since the relaunch, at least in theory. Does that theory hold up for Action Comics #0? Here are a few opinions from around the web:
James Hunt, Comic Book Resources: “In many ways, this is good stunt for someone with Morrison’s sensibilities. The writer’s earliest issues were by far the best of the series, presenting a radically different and interesting take on Superman with very clear ideas about his situation. Recent issues have seen that gradually give way to something a bit more conventional (if you can call the super-armor conventional) but Morrison has taken the ‘zero issue’ approach quite literally with a story that fits almost perfectly before last year’s Action Comics #1.”
Jesse Schedeen, IGN: The best compliment I can give this issue is that it feels more consistent and cohesive than the majority of Morrison’s previous issues have been. The plot is relatively simple by Morrison standards, so rather than cutting between scenes and points in time intermittently, Morrison is able to follow the journey from point A to B in a more methodical manner. Issue #0 opens where one of the recent backup stories left off, with Clark ordering his first batch of Superman T-shirts. From there, we see him settle into his role at the Daily Star, interact with Jimmy Olsen, and put his growing abilities to the test for the first time as Metropolis’ new defender.”
DC Comics released Green Lantern Annual #1 this week by Geoff Johns, Ethan Van Sciver, Pete Woods and Cam Smith, the prologue to their “Rise of the Third Army” crossover event that’ll run through the various Lantern titles. It’s a jam-packed issue, featuring the reveal of the Guardians’ nefarious plans, the introduction of someone called the First Lantern and what the Third Army looks like, Guardian-on-Guardian violence, more of the Hal/Sinestro bromance and of course a holdover from the last big Green Lantern crossover, Black Hand.
It’s a lot of plot, but how was the story? Here are just a few opinions from around the web; I would also point you to Caleb’s review and invite you to leave your own thoughts in our comments section.
Brian Hibbs, The Savage Critics: “Now, this is really a model of how an annual should be — it’s the culmination of the last year of story, in all ways. THIS is GL #13, and sets off a new status quo for the book for a smidge at least.”