X-Factor #228 – Written by Peter David and Art by Leonard Kirk. Madrox Prime has just been killed by an dead and possessed duplicate. The demonic Bloodbath is proving himself unstoppable, so X-Factor needs to put an end to his carnage. This is, yet again, another fantastic, balls-to-the-walls issue. Bloodbath is a complete douche of a demon who apparently understands modern things like match.com. But anyway, the story starts giving us answers to things that have happened recently and are setting up for an even bigger plot unfolding here. David has so many layers of things going on, it is really quite magnificent. This is the best x-title out there and one of the worst selling. Which is sad, the writing is amazing, the artwork was just fine here, the comic is great. The development with Strong Guy and Monet continues to be very interesting. Layla is going to be a huge part in the future and a worrisome future at that. I’m totally excited for next issue. It can’t come out quick enough.
Rating – 9/10
Avenging Spider-Man #2 – Written by Zeb Wells and Art by Joe Madureira. The Moloids kidnapped JJJ while Spidey teams up with the Red Hulk to stop them. Not that he wouldn’t love flat-top getting some well deserved whoopings. The Rulk and Spidey have been swallowed by some big worm thing and drug into Subterranea. Meanwhile, JJJ doesn’t shut his mouth when he needs to. There’s quite an awesome action sequence at the end that was excellent. I love how Red Hulk and Spider-Man work together and the interplay between them. These little team-ups are wonderful and this really brings back the feel of the old Marvel Team-Up type titles. So far, the story is going really well. Zeb has been telling a fun and entertaining story that gives us a shocking finish where you want to get to the next issue immediately. Joe Mad’s art is deep and involved. I’m not sure the color art is the best, but I think Joe Mad showed why he’s one of the greats in my book. Everything is easy to follow, the action brings you in, very good stuff. I highly recommend checking this title out.
Rating – 9/10
The Defenders #1 – Written by Matt Fraction, Penciled by Terry Dodson and Inked by Rachel Dodson. Somehow, Nul the Breaker of Worlds has separated himself and is tearing up Europe. Hulk, feeling like he’s partly responsible and partly pissed, gathers his old friends to take out Nul. The issue really follows the formation of the group. This time we have Iron Fist, Doctor Strange, Silver Surfer, Namor, Hulk and Red She-Hulk. Not too different a group from what we’ve seen before, just some minor tweaks. There are some things I didn’t like about this issue. Namely, we see two of the characters sleeping around and it just totally did not seem in the realm of Doctor Strange. I had a problem with the characterizations here. I’m a bit confused on if this Hulk is in continuity with what’s going on in the Incredible Hulk series as well. The entire story just feels a tad hokey and the art lends to that. Not that Terry Dodson is a bad artist, but his style is a bit more over-the-top for a “serious” series. I think Fraction may be trying to blend in some nostalgia, but I’m not totally feeling it. It was pretty much just ok, nothing too special here. I feel almost like I could jump into issue two and wouldn’t have missed anything important. Guess I’ll know next month. Meh.
Rating – 5/10
X-Club #1 – Written by Simon Spurrier and Art by Paul Davidson. The X-Men: Utopia team and the X-Club (aka the scientists of X-Men) are working with Stratocorp to develop an Space Elevator. Why do we need an elevator to space? Good question, never really found myself needing one. But, of course, something bad happens and there’s a tad bit of a mystery. This is a five issue limited series, but I’m not sure how they’ll stretch this one out as the plot so far seems a bit thin. Dr. Nemesis is his usually snarky self and talks over everyone. Danger is strange, Madison Jeffries is barely used and Dr. Rao is just a foil for Nemesis. Cyclops comes off as lame in this and it really isn’t all the interesting. By the time it was over, I didn’t care whether the project failed or not. The guy in charge of Stratocorp came off as a huge shyster, which makes it even more unbelievable that the X-Men would help. There’s a mysterious person behind it all, but it could be Arcade for all it matters. I didn’t really need another series of the X-Club. They just aren’t interesting enough for me to read a series about. The art was ok, but there were some confusing sequences where I couldn’t tell quite what was going on. Nothing truly terrible, but nothing good either.
Rating – 4/10
The Amazing Spider-Man #675 – Written by Dan Slott, Penciled by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Inked by Klaus Janson. The Vulture sends his young vultures out on a heist as Carlie Cooper and Spidey try to figure out what is going on. Pretty decent storyline, it is good to see the Vulture out there again. There’s some moments in here where it felt like Seinfeld. You know, when they would try to make all these things tie together when they really didn’t need to. Like MJ going out to the exact same club that Vulture is running. Eh, oh well. The story was fine, but I just didn’t like the pencils in this one. I’m not a big fan of Camuncoli and his fight scenes are way to confusing. I just don’t like how he draws people for the most part. Daken was a better fit for him and even then I didn’t care for his art. His Vulture was actually pretty good though. The best part of this issue is the complex relationship going on with Cooper and Parker. The development of that relationship gives the writer a bit more of a long term arch to work on while Peter goes on his merry adventures. That’s a good thing. I just didn’t think Giuseppe was the best choice to pencil this one.
Rating – 6/10
Villains for Hire #1 – Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning and Art by Renato Arlem. Purple Man is running this group after escaping the Raft. He sends them out on a mission that quickly goes awry after intervention by another unknown group of villains. Needless to say, Purple Man is not at all happy about this. I thought the point one issue of this was awful, but this was much better. It had a plot that was going somewhere, which is terribly important. It was interesting to see all these villians working together in this issue and provided some fun. This was nothing too deep, but in reality, it’s picking up where Heroes for Hire left off. I still can’t figure out why they would end that series and then goes to this limited series. Five issues, I can pretty much tell what’s going to happen and fear it will end up being a run-of-the-mill storyline. The art was pretty good too. Nothing to really complain about here. Slightly above average, but barely.
Rating - 6/10
The Punisher #6 – Written by Greg Rucka and Art by Matthew Southworth & Matthew Clark. The Punisher is almost healed up four months after his battle with the mutate Vulture and now he knows where the Exchange is going. Unfortunately, Rachel Cole-Alves, the ex-Marine is also tracking down the Exchange. What follows is a nail-biting romp of revenge and vengeance served cold. Rucka tries to keep things somewhat realistic with the Punisher. He clearly is a vulnerable character, but he’s damned smart and extremely patient. Some of the tricks he uses are clever and makes you feel like you’re watching a darned good movie. The two Matts do an excellent job with the artwork and the snow suit that the Punisher wears is awesome when it is revealed. Their snow scenes in general I thought were well done. There’s a bit of slow build for a few pages that lead into a lot of great action as the suspense climbs to a crescendo. Then when all the shit hits the fan, it is on. Rucka does a superb job with Frank Castle that hasn’t been done in years. He makes Garth Ennis’ crappy run seemingly disappear and makes us forget the awful Punisher MAX series (sorry, it’s just nudity and gore folks, no substance). Thank goodness for Greg Rucka!
Rating – 9/10
Hulk #45 – Written by Jeff Parker and Art by Patch Zircher. Hulk of Arabia continues as they try to figure out more about Dagan Shah and where he got his power from. Dagan, meanwhile, attempts to ice Hulk and Machine Man and then let the Mideastern Conference Delegates know his intentions. I really want to like this issue and there’s some good stuff here. Namely the artwork, even though there are some slightly confusing scenes, but that’s mainly due to the alien technology. I like that they are using the Machine Man finally. I also understand that they have to make a tough Hulk level bad guy, but it just seems forced at times to create a new bad guy to fight him. The character seems fairly uninspired, there’s nothing really defining about him and I’m not entirely sure what his powers really are. The character seems to need a bit more fleshing out and maybe they will, but at this point he’s just a cardboard cut-out villain-of-the-week. Overall, I thought the issue was just average. It really didn’t hold my attention all that well. Another meh issue.
Rating – 5/10
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