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Fables #136 – Review

By: Bill Willingham (story), Mark Buckingham (layouts), Russ Braun (finishes), Lee Loughridge (colors)

The Story: Rose begins to regret all those times she ever dozed off during history lessons.

The Review: A few months ago, back when Rose started this new Camelot business, I questioned the wisdom of modeling her enterprise after a fable that so clearly went wrong in the end.  And considering the nature of these characters, you could guess that they’d be more susceptible to foreordained endings than most.  But that’s the nature of Rose’s virtue, isn’t it?  Always hoping that things might turn out differently this time around?

Not to disparage hope, but it’s clearly going to take a lot more than positive thinking to get over the doom of Camelot.  Rose would be wise to take to heart the wisdom and knowledge of no less than the original Lady of the Lake herself.  Although Lake states that fate itself—or should I say, the Fates themselves—poses the biggest danger to Rose’s plans, such forces require instruments to come to pass.  A lot of our interest in this storyline, therefore, is speculating who will take on the roles Guinevere, Lancelot, Morgan le Fey, and Mordred played in the first Camelot’s fall.
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Age of Ultron #8 – Review

AGE OF ULTRON #8

By: Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Brandon Peterson (Artist), Paul Mounts (Color Artist), VC’s Cory Petit (Letterer)

Review: How crazy is Age of Ultron #8? “It’s insane. It’s—it’s a fantasia of insanity,” according to future/alternate Tony Stark. I’d say that’s pretty conservative. R Kelly would call it “crazier than a fish with titties.” Amanda Bynes would just do this. Though as good as those descriptions are, do any of them really do justice to the image of Morgana Le Fey flying into battle backed up an army of Dragon-riding Asgardian Doom-Bots!?!? Nah, not really. This ish is bugnuts.
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The Fearless Defenders #1 – Review

By: Cullen Bunn (Writer), Will Sliney (Artist), Veronica Gandini (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)

The Review:  It’s Ladies Night at the House of Ideas, which I guess is reason enough for a certain amount of celebration; mainstream comics are a bit of a sausage-fest after all.  So, when a book featuring two badass babes going all out to raise a ruckus pops up on the shelf, it is perhaps a debt owed by all red-blooded man-nerds to pick it up. All that ogling of Frank Cho’s libidinous artwork had to come at some kinda price, right fellas?

I jest, of course, but there’s a kernel of truth hidden amongst my pseudo-chauvinistic posturing. We often hear the case put forward in the comic book press that women, diverse ethnic groups and those of a non-hetero persuasion are much maligned when it comes to the world of capes and tights. This book tackles all three hot topics at once, and does so naturally and succinctly. Any move towards equality in the super-powered community deserves at least a respectful nod for trying to make right…but at the end of the day, the main thing we care about as readers is comics that tell a great story filled with engaging characters and dynamite visuals. On those terms I’m afraid this issue comes up a little short.

The basic premise is a good one. I love an Odd Couple pairing and Misty Knight and Valkyrie are nothing if not that. Teaming the “Badass private investigator,” with the “Last Shieldmaiden and defender of Asgardia” is a scenario ripe for terse, witty banter – two more opposing worlds it may be hard to find. It’s a set-up that was at the core of one of my favourite comic runs of the last few years, Greg Pak’s Incredible Herc, where street-smart, likeable techno-brat Amadeus Cho proved a perfect foil for the tragi-comic Greek God Hercules. There’s not a whole lot of interaction between Misty and Valk’ here but the combination certainly has a lot of potential.

The team-up itself takes a while to occur. The story begins with Misty in the middle of a mission from Archeologist Dr Annabelle Riggs to retrieve some stolen Asgardian artifacts from a band of mercenaries. The job gets messy when a villain (who I can only assume is Morgan le Fey) interrupts and makes off with most of the loot. Misty makes her way back to Dr Riggs at her dig site with the one artifact she was able to recover, though she could hardly have picked up a worse one – once activated this Asgardian ‘music box’ plays a tune that reanimates the dead. Zombies ensue, Valkyrie turns up to help Misty, and the book sets up its stall from there.
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Dark Avengers #4 (Dark Reign) – Review

By Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Mike Deodato (Art), and Rain Beredo (Colors)

The Story:
With Norman Osborn (Iron Patriot) and Dr. Doom busy confronting Morgan Le Fey in the past, the leaderless Dark Avengers must face La Fey and her demons in the present. During the battle, Clint Barton goes public with information regarding the Dark Avengers…

What’s Good:
I know that Brian Michael Bendis’ writing is pretty divisive, but I found Dark Avengers #4 to be one hell of a fun read. And that’s almost entirely because the Dark Avengers have a team dynamic that makes good (and appropriate) use of Bendis’ style of dry, sarcastic humor and personality driven dialogue. It goes a long way towards masking the fact that, as far as plot is concerned, very little actually happens in the latest issue of Dark Avengers.

As for the artwork, Mike Deodato and Rain Beredo continue to do great things as a team. Dark, moody, detailed, and even, at times, sexy, the art helps to ease the pain of the $3.99 price tag a little bit. In short, Dark Avengers #4 is one good-looking book.

What’s Not So Good:
For as much as I like the writing and the artwork on a technical level, Dark Avengers #4 feels somewhat lacking as a whole, especially considering that it costs $3.99. One reason is that it’s an extremely fast read that has a number of (visually impressive) panels and pages with little, if any dialogue. Sure it looks nice, but it makes the everything fly by. Another reason is that the issue is pretty light on plot. Things with Doom and Le Fey wrap up well enough, but it left me wanting more. In addition, it feels almost incomplete in some ways due to the rather abrupt ending. The ending works; don’t get me wrong, I just wish the stop wasn’t so damn jarring.

Also, on a side note, Dark Avengers is starting to feel a bit too much like Warren Ellis’ Thunderbolts.  While that’s not necessarily a bad thing considering how awesome the Ellis, Deodato, and Beredo run on Thunderbolts was, it wouldn’t hurt if the creative team put some more space between the two series in some way.  That said, I understand it might be difficult considering that Dark Avengers has the same art team and many of the same characters that Thunderbolts had.

Conclusion:
There’s a lot to like about Dark Avengers #4, but considering how fast it moves, it’ll be up to you to decide whether or not it’s worth the asking price.

Grade: B-

-Kyle Posluszny

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