Comic Catch-Up: New Releases, 03.12.09
Amongst the other bad guys that the Comic Catch-Up came up against this week, we had to deal with aliens, Doombots and a lot of decapitation. With no DC stuff this week (don’t worry, we’ll be looking more in-depth at Blackest Night eventually), we take a look at some annuals coming at the end of the year, with Dark Avengers Annual #1 and X-Force Annual #1 as well as Siege: The Cabal, Strange #2 and Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #5.
Ever since fleeing Norman Osborn’s crazy just after the opening arc of Dark Avengers, the extra-dimensional Marvel Boy has been mainly M.I.A., but he finally returns to take centre-stage in for the first time since his own mini-series in Dark Avengers Annual #1, written by Brian Michael Bendis; art by Chris Bachalo. Now that he knows his fellow Dark Avengers have more than a few choice nuts, Noh-Varr has been keeping a low profile and with the help of a college student and potential love interest that we’ll probably see again soon, has been trying to contact the Kree Supreme Intelligence of this reality, and, in doing so, find himself. Bendis has been sowing the seeds of Marvel Boy’s eventual jump to fully fledged hero for some time, going way back before Civil War, and this issue cements his potential, albeit accompanied by a dodgy-looking costume change. Bachalo is on his usual top form, with some kinetic fights and nods to previous work (look out for a squirrel-chomping Venom) making the issue is stunning to look at. While not everyone will be happy with Bendis’ change to Noh-Varr’s character from Morrison’s original creation, the loss of some of the characters cockiness has made the new hero fun, if somewhat naive, and and it’ll be interesting to see where this jump to hero goes from here.
Best Moment #1: Noh-Varr gets a helping hand against The Sentry
Best Moment #2: Venom gets hungry.
With Dark Reign: The Cabal having kicked off the line of books under the Dark Reign banner, it’s only fitting that a Cabal book should close it, and that’s just what Siege: The Cabal, written by Brian Michael Bendis; art by Michael Lark, does. The temporary trust formed between villains under Norman Osborn has fallen apart, with Osborn trying to retain and cement what little control he can, while Loki proves the master manipulator and sets his master plan in motion. With some extra pages and less teasing of what’s to come, Siege: The Cabal could have been a great book, but Bendis seems unwilling to pull back the curtain on Osborn’s mystery man (or woman) despite some full-page teases. The lack of any real moment to steal the scene means that Lark is unfortunately never really given a moment to shine, and even the preview to Siege #1 can’t give the book that extra push. Those complaints aside, The Cabal is still a great mirror to The Illuminati and hopefully won’t disappear completely once Osborn’s reign has ended and they’ll get a defining moment before the Dark Reign ends fully.
Best Moment #1: Oh God not the bees.
Best Moment #2: Well what the hell is Osborn’s weapon?
Apprentices are nothing new to Stephen Strange and with Strange #2, written by Mark Waid; art by Emma Rios, we get some more focus on his latest, Casey Kinmont, a girl with a natural talent for magic that Strange has taken on. It’s an interesting juxtaposition to Strange’s frustration and anger after losing the mantle of Sorceror Supreme, but rather than dwelling on that, Waid crafts a fun adventure with some snappy dialog, while for her part, Emma Rios brings a manga style that keeps the book fresh and also perfectly captures the Lovecraftian horrors thrown at Strange and Casey. While this mini won’t offer anything groundbreaking it remains a fun story which Strange could use after all the misery thrown his way the last few years.
Best Moment #1: Rose tinted glasses sometimes let you see what people are really like.
Best Moment #2: Unspeakable horror isn’t always so scary when it’s kind of unpredictable.
While the Dark Avengers Annual focuses on one story, X-Force Annual #1 tells a number of shorter stories that are only partly related to the rest of the book. The main story, written by Robert Kirkman; art by Jason Pearsons, has Wolverine sent into a Hyrda base with the sole purpose of retrieving one specific Hydra agent alive. The story is Robert Kirkman at his best, ranging from sweet, funny and of course graphic and it’s a shame that Kirkman doesn’t write some more books for the big two, with this standing alongside Jason Aaron’s work on Wolverine: Weapon X and is one of the best stories to feature the character in recent years. Acknowledging the Necrosha arc currently running through the X-books, there’s also UnDeadpool, written by Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost; art by Carlo Barberi, in which the Acolytes have stormed Utopia in an attempt to take back Magneto and it seems as if Deadpool and Loa are all that stands in their way. The story does little to advance the overall plot, with just a little bit too much of Deadpool’s quips and jokes. It’s a fun read, if nothing new or worthwhile, but does little to make this book appeal to anyone who isn’t already a fan of the series (or the Merc With A Mouth.)
Best Moment #1: Well they were asking for it.
Best Moment #2: Deadpool’s just as confused (and concerned) as the rest of us when it comes to Magneto (or is that Xorn?)
Finally, over in the Ultimate Universe, it’s nice to know that out of all the crap that Peter Parker has gone through, he still has friends. A long list of friends if we’re to follow Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #5, written by Brian Michael Bendis; art by David LaFuente. Mysterio’s still a threat, and Shroud’s identity remains a mysterio…mystery, but even with those plot-lines waiting to be addressed, Bendis creates a fun book housing all the characters left both homeless and bookless after the events of Ultimatum. LaFuente continues to improve with each issue, offering kinetic and fluid fight scenes along with unique and refreshing character designs. With Iceman joining the book, Peter’s supporting cast continues to grow, and while his home may now be Super-hero Central, the book still retains its down-to-earth teenage feel. It’s hard for a book to improve on such a great formula but with LaFuente on art duties the book remains the best Saturday Morning cartoon that never got animated.
Best Moment #1: Barry Allen seems to have escaped the speed force only to end up in Ultimate Marvel.
Best Moment #2: Well, which is it Shroud?