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Annihilator #1 – Review

By: Grant Morrison (story), Frazier Irving (art)

The Story: If you haven’t learned this by now, stay away from deep, dark pits.

The Review: I’ve been at this gig for nearly four years and so I consider myself fairly deep in the comic book biz, but one of the ways in which I’m still a comics rookie is the fact that—are you ready for this?—I have never once read one of Morrison’s non-mainstream works.* It’s true. I always meant to get around to it; The Invisibles and his Vertigo works are right there on my reading list. But my time has mostly been occupied keeping up with what’s new rather than looking back at the past.

In this sense, Annihilator is perfectly suited to me because while it presents as a very different kind of Morrison work, it’s as obsessed with the intersection of fiction and reality as everything else Morrison does. Here, that intersection manifests as a black hole in space—2492.Sagittarius A, “the Great Annihilator”—which connects to a sinkhole on a Hollywood hone purchased by Ray Spass (pronounced “space”), a screenwriter working on the project that’ll top his past successes and seal his fame.
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Magneto #9 – Review

By: Cullen Bunn (writer), Gabriel Hernandez Walta (artist), Jordie Bellaire (color artist)

The Story: The Red Skull makes things personal between he and Magneto…

Again…

Several times over…

The Review: Is there any rivalry between Marvel villains more natural than one between Magneto and the Red Skull? Two survivors of a bygone age seeking to create a world safe for a superior race, each of their lives shaped by their rivalry with one of Marvel’s greatest heroes. But, of course, where Magneto suffered through unimaginable atrocities as part of the Nazi’s Final Solution, the Skull happily profited off of the death of millions. Years ago, the two had a famous showdown, where Magneto walked away the victor, the Skull dying shortly after. But, once again Schmidt cheated death and now he’s behind Marvel’s latest event, in the form of “Axis”.

While “Axis” is clearly going to be far bigger than a single title could contain, it was almost inevitable that Magneto should get involved. Were their old enmity not enough, the Red Skull has sought to eradicate the ‘mutant menace’, moved his operation to Magneto’s old stronghold of Genosha, and desecrated the grave of Magneto’s oldest friend. In many ways, this really could have been ‘just’ a Magneto story.

Despite the natural place of this story within the “Axis” event, it does break the flow of this series a little. Even the recap page seems eager to remind you that Magneto was in the middle of another story. It just seems odd that Genosha becoming a site of mutant prison camps again should be something that sneaks up on the reader or Magneto.

Nonetheless, those fearing the worst of an event tie-in should put their minds at rest. Minor hiccups aside, this feels very much like a regular issue of Magneto.The procedural quality of the series is put to good use, taking us on a tour of hatred old and new that helps to humanize Magneto’s anger. In fact, this issue deals with a rich vein of storytelling possibilities that has gone largely unexplored since issue #2, Magneto’s guilt. Part of the horror of the Holocaust was the way in which it forced a choice between moral compromise and death. No one can, nor should, judge Magneto for what he was forced to do as a member of the Sonderkommando, the part he was forced to play in the Nazi machinery of death, but, understandable as it may be, it must be hard for him to live with that.
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She-Hulk #8 – Review

By: Charles Soule (story), Javier Pulido (art), Muntsa Vicente (colors)

The Story: It takes a desperate man to sue an elderly Captain America.

The Review: There have been a few times since I picked up this series when I wondered whether other people would really enjoy a committed legal drama from a comic book, or whether it’s just my own legal background talking. I’m comforted, however, by the fact that people have been entertained by this kind of stuff from Perry Mason to Law & Order: [Insert Spin-Off Here]. Adding superheroes to the mix can only make the series more interesting, I figure.

I mean, who wouldn’t want to follow a trial involving Captain America? And not just that, but involving him as defendant? In a civil suit for wrongful death? With She-Hulk as his attorney and Daredevil as opposing counsel? Again, I could just be law-nerding out here, but the premise alone wins out against stacks of your run-of-the-mill superhero stories.
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Aquaman: Futures End #1 – Review

By: Dan Jurgens (story), Alvaro Martinez (pencils), Raul Fernandez (inks), Chris Sotomayor (colors)

The Story: Arthur builds yet another Isle of Atlantis just in time for it to be sunk again.

The Review: As if Arthur doesn’t already have enough of an image problem, he can never seem to escape the disdain and contempt from both land and sea. The last couple years have seen his surface reputation improve considerably, but not so much where the Atlanteans are concerned. You’d think five years of dedicated kingship would improve matters, but if anything, Arthur’s standing among his people has gotten worse.

This isn’t a simple case of Atlanteans sticking to old grievances and rejecting progress, although there’s that. During the war between Earths, Arthur volunteered Atlantis’ aid and their reward was to have “curtains of fire burning across the oceans,” poisoning the waters, decimating whole populations, leaving them sickly and starving, while the land-dwellers offer help only in exchange for mineral and oil rights. Hell yeah, the Atlanteans have a right to be pissed.
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Swamp Thing: Futures End #1 – Review

By: Charles Soule (story), Jesus Saiz (art), Matthew Wilson (colors)

The Story: Alec takes a tour of the many kingdoms of life. It’s not as relaxing as it sounds.

The Review: Given the tenuous place Futures End has in continuity, probably the best way for writers to cope with the gimmick is use it to show the seeds of real developments to come, even if they never fully blossom into the forms they take on in Futures End. This is especially what a title needs to do if it has no prominent role in the Event itself. This is why Action Comics‘ tie-in is nearly a complete waste of time, while Swamp Thing‘s is worth keeping around for a few rereads.

Like every other Futures End issue, there’s no telling which changes will come to pass and which won’t. Alec may finally defeat Anton once and for all (and free Abby in the process), or he may not. The important thing is that Soule successfully sets the stage for Alec to do so and make it feel like a moment of real triumph, as if it’s something that will actually come to pass five years from now. Soule does this by leveraging as much of the Swamp Thing mythos as possible, showing off the best of its appeal.
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Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #7 – Review

By: Greg Pak (writer), Takeshi Miyazawa (artist), Luigi Anderson (colorist)

The Story: Turok has finally found not one but two potential families. Now he just has to stop them from destroying each other.

The Review: At the beginning of this year I didn’t know anything about Turok. That may seem strange, given that I’m something of a dinosaur geek, but, to me, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was a ridiculous first person shooter for the N64 that just made me feel bad for the poor dinosaurs. I imagine those who played the wildly popular series of games are at least tangentially familiar with the premise of the character: namely that Turok is a native american warrior tasked with protecting a land apart from time. If bow-wielding natives fighting dinosaurs sounds bizarrely like the premise of the worst or most awesome pulp story you’ve ever heard, you’re kind of right. Turok, it turns out, is actually a sixty year-old comic franchise originally published by the Dell and Gold Key Comic companies. The franchise has been rebooted several times, twice in gritty 90s fashion, with the second of those inspiring the video game.

After a nearly ten-year hiatus and another unsuccessful reboot, Turok has found his way to Dynamite Comics under the direction of Greg Pak. Pak’s Turok: Dinosaur Hunter examines an alternate history where the existence of dinosaurs on Eurasia has allowed foreigners to reach the Americas early. After warding off an invasion by English crusaders, Turok has found himself caught between the Mound Builders of Cahokia and an invading Mongol horde. If that sounds awesome to you,  once again you’re kind of right.

Having set up his pieces over the last two issues, Pak spends this issue exploring the conflicting emotions and responsibilities that Turok feels to both sides and himself. As is typical of Pak’s work, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is a fascinating look at identity and this issue is no exception. There aren’t really any brilliant new additions to the balance Pak’s struck, but this is really an issue for the heart. Turok’s relationship to the family he’s staying with and the common people of Cahokia is nothing terribly complex, but at times it’s painfully sincere, a trait that quickly transforms the Elder Chief into a thoroughly slimy adversary, one who can make your blood boil. Simple as it is, you can feel the torment it all puts Turok through, particularly as he tries to explain his situation near the end of the issue.
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Green Arrow: Futures End #1 – Review

By: Jeff Lemire (story), Andrea Sorrentino (art), Marcelo Maiolo (colors)

The Story: Two Green Arrows are too many for one town to handle.

The Review: Now this one, I have high hopes for. Not only does Green Arrow get to keep its usual creative team for its Futures End tie-in, Lemire is one of the architects of the Big Event itself. Basically, the title has every advantage to turn out a decent tie-in, and if it doesn’t deliver, we should all throw up our hands and give up on the month right now—which is not as horrible as it sounds, considering the financial savings you’d get. But anyway, Green Arrow delivers, so keep your wallets open.

Lemire starts on the right foot by wasting no time in setting up the current status quo for Ollie’s world, five years later: Emiko has taken over the Green Arrow name; Naomi, in the guise as Dart,* is her sidekick—or accomplice, shall we say, since “sidekick” is a toxic term around Emiko; and while the two of them have been keeping Seattle safe against the likes of the Cult of Vertigo, Ollie has been off on his own, uncovering big secrets, reminiscent of the work he did for Steve Trevor in his JLA days.
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