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.”
Marvel celebrated Spider-Man’s 50th birthday with an extra-sized issue that week that included not only the debut of Alpha, Spider-Man’s new sidekick, in a story by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos, but also new stories by Dean Haspiel, Joshua Hale Fialkov and Nuno Plati. Did Spidey celebrate his big day in style or was the party a bust? Here are a few reviews from around the web:
Doug Zawisza, Comic Book Resources: “Marvel’s gift to Spider-fans includes signing Spider-Man up for the ‘Sidekick Club.’ That comes in the form of Alpha, an until-this-issue normal high-schooler, not unlike Peter Parker back in the days of yore. Alpha’s civilian identity of Andy Maguire is an ordinary C student content with just existing. He’s not a loser, but he sure isn’t a winner. In short, he’s young Peter Parker without any motivation or interest.” (4/5 stars)
Andy Hunsaker, CraveOnline: “It’s a fun inversion, having Peter himself hosting a group of Midtown High School kids to show off his new ‘Parker Particles,’ and of course it goes awry – although this time, it’s thanks to a bit of skullduggery from a jealous aspiring Horizon Labs scientist named Tiberius. This little sabotage actually brings to mind the origin of Spider-Man 2099, when Miguel O’Hara was cursed with spider-powers he didn’t want after a spiteful co-worker tried to kill him with his own device. That probably wasn’t intentional at all, but I saw it, so I’m calling it cool. Anyway, the resulting disaster gives Maguire a crazy level of super power not unlike Ultra Boy from the Legion of Super-Heroes in that he’s got all the generic superhero basics but can only use them one at a time.”
Since its relaunch 17 issues ago, Daredevil has boasted quite the list of artistic talent. So when your regular artists have included the likes of Marcos Martin, Paolo Rivera and Chris Samnee, who do you get to ensure your “special guest” fill-in art is really something special? Someone who fans are going to hear about and say, “Yeah, that’s a great idea” or “Oh, he’s the perfect guy to go with the tone Mark Waid has established” or even “Great move; maybe I should be buying this book.” Someone like Madman and X-Statix artist Mike Allred.
Allred, along with his wife, colorist Laura Allred, joins Waid for a tale that pits Daredevil against Stilt Man and delves into the relationship between Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson. I thought it worked extremely well myself; if you don’t believe me, here are a few more opinions from around the web:
Gilbert Short, Multiversity Comics: “While Daredevil hasn’t had the opportunity to stick to one artist, Waid’s immense talent and skill lets him write the book to his contributors’ strengths. Issue #17 is no different, as he writes like he and Allred have been collaborating for at least 25 years in the run. Their chemistry is damn near explosive, and makes for one of the best issues of the book since the newest volume started.” (9/10)
Ryan K. Lindsay, Comic Book Resources: “Stilt-Man is one of the main obvious draws for this issue. He’s such a ridiculous rogue, it’s impossible for readers to resist discovering how Waid brings him some street cred. Having Stilt-Man in a flashback is the first smart move considering his shtick doesn’t stack up well for modern comics. Stilt-Man smashes through the Nelson & Murdock window and trots off at quite a pace. He crushes a taxi and even manages to flick a helicopter into a building — surprising, considering it’s actually Daredevil’s fault. Finally, Waid delivers his grand moment — something he teased in most interviews: the terror of being under one of those legs at the bottom of a river. It’s a great sequence that makes you feel the power and possible presence Stilt-Man could have.” (3.5/5)
This was another of those weeks where I ahd a hard time picking just one comic to focus on this week, so I thought I’d do another round-up post. Four first issues from four different publishers arrived on Wednesday, so let’s see what’s in today’s mystery basket …
Archer and Armstrong #1
Story by Fred Van Lente
Art by Clayton Henry and Matt Milla
Published by Valiant
Todd Allen, The Beat: “When the teasers for Archer and Armstrong #1 came out, there was a little bit of noise from the political parts of the web about what an awful liberal smear job the book was because of some villains billing themselves as the 1%. I’d gotten a good laugh out of villains calling themselves the 1% and wearing golden masks of bulls and bears (an obvious stock market joke) and I figured the usual noisy political types might be over-reacting. Come to find out, Archer and Armstrong is a much more political book than I was expecting. It’s also utterly hilarious. Unless you’re a dogmatic Republican with limited-to-no sense of humor. If you’re one of those, stay FAR away from this comic. It will set you off.”
The timing couldn’t be better for Marvel’s new Hawkeye book, which came out this past weekend. For one thing, there’s that big blockbuster Avengers movie that came out earlier this year, where the character got some big-screen time thanks to actor Jeremy Renner. For another, Marvel was able to line up Matt Fraction, David Aja and Matt Hollingsworth, who worked together on a phenomenal Iron Fist run a few years back, to show us what Clint Barton does when he isn’t Avengin’, Secret Avengin’ or teaching at the Avengin’ Academy.
I was sold by the creative team alone, but if you’re still on the fence about the first issue, here are a few reviews from the web to help you along.
Alex Evans, Weekly Comic Book Review: “Hawkeye #1 is one of those rare first issues where you know that you’re seeing the start of something very special. Much like Daredevil #1, there’s a perfect unity between writer and artist and, more than that, a fresh, unique take on an old, well-worn character. I will go even so far as saying that much like Fraction’s Iron Man, Hawkeye #1 feels like the start of what will be the definitive take on the character for years to come.” (Grade: A)
Chris Sims, ComicsAlliance: The concept of ‘Hawkeye on his days off’ that’s laid out in the title page fits this book like a glove, and it’s a pretty interesting choice. After those first few pages where he gets knocked out of a building, Clint doesn’t wear his costume and nobody refers to him as ‘Hawkeye.’ Instead, he’s just Clint Barton in a suit — an actual suit with a shirt and tie, not the purple leather that makes him look like Prince’s racquetball partner — dealing with things on a relatively low-key level. Rather than, say, the Loki level that he has to deal with at his day job.
The name of DC Comics’ latest publishing initiative, National Comics, is a reference to the publisher’s long history–National Comics was the name of the publisher before becoming DC Comics. It was also the title of an anthology comic series published by Quality Comics in the 1940s, which featured characters that would eventually be purchased and absorbed into the DC Universe.
Speaking of which, one of the characters that DC bought from Quality was Kid Eternity, who debuted in Hit Comics #25 in 1942. A young boy killed 75 years before he was supposed to die, the powers that be sent him back to Earth to fight the good fight, giving him the power to summon historical and mythological figures to aid him in his mission. DC has revived the character a few different times and retconned his history–at one point he was Captain Marvel Jr.’s brother; at another point the historical figures he was summoning were revealed to be demons. Most recently Kid Eternity appeared in the pre-New 52 Teen Titans title.
This time around Kid Eternity is revived by Jeff Lemire and Cully Hamner, in a one-shot that came out this past Wednesday. Is it a concept worthy of revival–and your money? Here are a few reviews from around the web to help you decide:
Marvel’s new Captain Marvel revival features a familiar character taking over the mantle of another familiar character, as Carol Danvers, once known as Ms. Marvel, launches into a new title by writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and artist Dexter Soy. How does the first issue measure up? Here are just a few opinions from around the web. Let us know what you thought of it in the comments section.
George Marston, Newsarama: “For the last five or six years, starting with her solo ongoing series by Brian Reed, Carol Danvers has been Marvel’s premiere female character. And why not? She’s always had a great look, a strong personality, and a rich history. However, it seems like she’s failed to stick with a larger audience. Maybe it’s because, despite her characterization, she’s never filled a specific niche. No matter how you boil it down, she’s always been the female version of a male hero. With Captain Marvel #1, Carol has successfully made the jump from being a gender-switch of a character who hasn’t regularly appeared in comics for over 30 years to fully owning her identity.” (7/10)
Ali Colluccio, iFanboy: “DeConnick’s Carol Danvers is a driven and determined woman. She’s constantly pushing herself to do better, to work harder, to ‘punch holes in the sky.’ But she’s also kind and giving. Carol has the selflessness that truly good superheroes have. DeConnick has written some wonderful character moments in this issue. She very quickly establishes Carol as likeable and easy to identify with, even though she’s a superhero power-house.” (4/5)
I had a hard time deciding what comic to feature here this week, so I figured what the heck–let’s not pick just one. So here are round-ups for three different comics this week, two first issues and the presumably concluding chapter to a big ol’ Alan Moore epic. So without further ado …
Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art by Brad Walker, Andres Guinaldo, Mark Irwin, Mariano Taibo and Stephen Downer
Published by BOOM! Studios
Bobby Shortle, Talking Comics: “The Hypernaturals #1, a new superhero science fiction yarn from Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, is a fun, but flawed tale that suffers from a slow start and its inability to bring anything new to the table.”
Benjamin Bailey, IGN: “Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning do cosmic superheroes better than anyone today. They practically wrote the book on it. That’s what really makes this book such a letdown. Nothing happens within these pages that you have not read many times before. This issue hits so many cliches of the superhero genre it borders on silly. It’s hard to tell where exactly Abnett and Lanning are going with this story, but right now there is nothing to grasp on to and be interested in. It’s the same old song and dance. There is no hook; nothing to set it apart.”
“The wedding of the year”–at least according to the promotional email I got yesterday–hit comic shops both virtual and real this week, as Northstar and his boyfriend Kyle tied the knot in Astonishing X-Men #51. The issue came with quite a bit of publicity for Marvel, along with the protests from anti-gay marriage factions, gay marriages in comic shops and a show of support from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (as well as an invitation to his house for a BBQ).
But once all the pomp, circumstance and hype is over with, we’re left with a comic story, one crafted by Marjorie Liu, Mike Perkins and Andrew Hennessy. Was it any good or not? Here are a few reactions from around the web to tell you what a few folks thought of it:
Andy Hunsaker, CraveOnline: “Comic book weddings are much like pro wrestling weddings – they almost always go disastrously wrong before they can ever manage to go right. However, with Astonishing X-Men #51, Marvel shows they’ve got more integrity than the WWE by actually going through with their hyped-up same-sex marriage rather than chickening out and admitting it was a publicity stunt, like WWE did with Billy & Chuck several years ago.”
Martin Gray, Too Dangerous for a Girl: “This is really rather good. Yes, Marvel has pumped this wedding for everything it’s worth in the real world, but as a special issue it holds together rather well. While the wedding party isn’t attacked by the Circus of Crime or whomever, the other tradition of gorgeous nuggets of characterisation is adhered to by writer Marjorie Liu. So we have Rogue wondering what would have happened had her two evil mothers, Oracle and Mystique, tied the knot, while Wolverine recalls the tragedy of his own wedding day, without raining on Northstar’s parade. And there’s a lovely line from Beast emphasising that the heroes of the various teams really are simply one big (occasionally) happy family.”
This past Wednesday saw the release of a comic we were told would never happen — a crossover between Marvel’s original universe and the newer, shinier Ultimate universe. Spider-Men #1, by Brian Michael Bendis, Sara Pichelli, Justin Ponsor and Cory Petit, features a team-up between the original Peter Parker and his namesake, Miles Morales, who took the mantle in the Ultimate universe last fall.
So what was the reaction to the first issue? Here are a few opinions from around the web.
James Hunt, Comic Book Resources: “For all his work on the Ultimate version of Peter Parker, it’s surprisingly rare to see Bendis writing the Marvel Universe Spider-Man in anything approaching a starring role. Spider-Man may be a constant presence in Bendis’ Marvel Universe titles, but only ever as a supporting character. It probably isn’t intentional, except as a measure to avoid diluting Peter Parker’s voice between the two comic lines, but it’s worked out for the best. To have Brian Bendis inside the head of the ‘real’ Peter Parker in Spider-Men #1 gives the issue an immediate air of significance. Even before anything’s happened, we know it’s something special.”
The new Valiant Entertainment (or Valiant 2.0, Valiant Reborn or whatever you want to call it) returned to comics last month with the well-reviewed X-O Manowar #1. This past week their rebirth continued with the release of Harbinger #1 by Joshua Dysart, Khari Evans and Ian Hannin. How does it stack up? Here are few opinions from around the web …
Benjamin Bailey, IGN: “In the 90s, Valiant was king, and Harbinger was the title that earned them their crown. It was the book at the heart of the Valiant universe; the book that all the collectors gobbled up and sold for inflated prices. Harbinger was also, in a lot of ways, the book that all the other publishers would steal from for years to come. Now, it’s 2012 and we have a brand new Harbinger #1. If you are new to the Valiant Universe, there is plenty to enjoy in this issue, even if feels like something you have read before.”
Kelly Thompson, Comic Book Resources: “There’s a lot of great character work here, strong dialogue and a lot of plot, but the most exciting thing to me as a fan of superhero books is how Dysart handles Peter Stanchek’s power. Peter is some version of a telepath and unlike so many books out there, this fact is not just swept under the rug. It’s dealt with quite realistically and in good detail so that we can see what a mixed bag the power is. In fact, Stanchek’s first real act in this book is to steal drugs from a pharmacy and then mind wipe the clerk — but he needs the drugs to quiet the incessant inescapable voices in his head, so it’s hard to blame him. So often in comics that bit just gets glazed over — ‘Oh, you have to learn to control it’ — cut instantly to it being controlled. This is far more interesting.”
Last Wednesday saw the release of Batman: Death by Design, a new graphic novel by Chip Kidd, writer and publication designer for the project, and artist Dave Taylor. Kidd has a rich background in designing book jackets and graphic novel projects, including Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross, Schulz and Peanuts, Jurassic Park, the Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again collection and many more. He also is a novelist and a musician, and even helped write an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Taylor, meanwhile, has been drawing comics for a few decades now, having worked on Force Works, World’s Finest, The Shadow of the Bat, Tongue*Lash and Judge Dredd, among many others
Here’s a description of the plot, as written by CBR’s Jeffrey Renaud in an introduction to an interview with Kidd:
Set in the 1930s, Death by Design explores Gotham as it undergoes one of the most expansive construction booms in the city’s history. Inspired by two real world events — the demolition of the original Pennsylvania Station in 1963 and the fatal construction crane collapses in midtown Manhattan of 2008 — Kidd asks what if, despite the years separating the incidents, they were somehow connected? And what if they happened in Gotham City, during a glorious golden age when a caped crusader protected its streets?
So what did folks think about it? Here are a few opinions from around the ‘net:
Stefan Fergus, Civilian Reader: “Before picking this up, I had only seen one preview page, and I was really intrigued by the style and story – it looked gloomy and atmospheric, which are two things I’ve always associated with Batman. As it turns out, my initial impressions were right on the money, and I’m really glad I bought this – this is a great detective/investigative story, rendered in some truly wonderful artwork. Very impressive.”