Got-dang! There were a lot of comics that came out last week! Even with all the reviewers at WCBR burning the midnight oil, it’s not always possible to get a full review up on everything when Marvel decides to release all of their Avengers and X-books in one week. Sheesh! But, still, we endure….
Uncanny X-Men #532 – We begin the handoff of Uncanny from Matt Fraction to Kieron Gillen. Fraction had his high moments with the Utopia and Second Coming events, but the rest of his run was pretty uneven and this issue illustrates a lot of the problems that I have. There are three story lines in this issue, but none feel very important. First you have Emma, Fantomex & Kitty Pryde fighting with Sebastian Shaw. I’m very unclear on what this story is supposed to do. It isn’t interesting and if they just wanted Shaw back in circulation (which is a good idea), there surely are more entertaining ways to do it than this. Two, we have Lobe and the Sublime Corp who have engineered mutant pills so that regular joes can gain mutant powers. That just isn’t interesting or threatening and it has a lot of the pseudo-science that Fraction likes to use, but doesn’t pull off very well. It’s very much what happens when someone who doesn’t know science tries to write something that is very hip about current science topics. Three we have this Collective Man story that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Unclear why this title can’t copy the formula that makes Uncanny X-Force so kick ass. And Greg Land’s art is just bad. I don’t mind his art the first few times I see it, but he’s been on this title for a while and we know his tricks now. Marvel would be best served to just rotate him around their titles. Grade: D — Dean Stell
2nd Opinon: There’s a clever idea to be found in the character of Lobe, but I’m not sure that it’s being used to it’s full potential. A character who genuinely doesn’t hate mutants but merely wants to exploit an untapped natural resource is a nice change of pace, but the entire melodramatic quarantine gambit and the cookie-cutter personalities of his wannabe X-Men are somewhat sabotaging a story with lots of potential. Throw in the obvious space-filler of the Collective Man sub-plot and the going-on-way-too-long side-plot concerning Emma Frost’s mission to disappear Sebastian Shaw (I’mnotgoingtopickontheGregLandartI’mnotgoingtopickontheGregLandart…) and I unfortunately found myself with a strong urge to go reread this week’s issue of Uncanny X-Force. Grade: C- — Joe Lopez
Ultimate Spider-Man #152 – Bendis continues his great second wind on this title this month as we simultaneously discover just what Black Cat was doing during his battle with Mysterio many months ago and , in the present day, watch as Iron Man nearly outs Peter’s secret identity to all of Forest Hills, Queens. There are plenty of standout moments in this issue, ranging from Aunt May’s reaction to Stark’s entrance gaff to the “Amazing Friends’” reunion with the just-returned Gwen Stacy. Peter’s conversation with Gwen was particularly touching and felt honest and real in a way that most complicated relationships in fiction fail at. While I do have to admit to being slightly annoyed that after three months of teasing, we still haven’t seen any actual super-hero schooling, Bendis hits the rest of the notes wonderfully and has gotten me one more invested in this comic’s cast. Extra kudos have to go to penciller Sara Pichelli whose work here has improved greatly. I’m not sure if it’s just a matter of her having become comfortable with the characters and their world, but this felt like an issue of Ultimate Spider-Man in a way that is usually reserved for one produced by a more regular artist. Great stuff. Grade: A — Joe Lopez
Thunderbolts #152 – This has been a superstar of a title over the last year. Jeff Parker always keeps the title clicking along at a swift pace. No drawn out, overly long 6 issue story arcs from Parker. Here the action builds on a storyline that has been in Hulk (also by Parker) having to do with some mega-monsters that are escaping from a MODOK island and wreaking havoc on Japan. I love how the Tbolts are all such a neat team, yet you never know when one of them might turn on the others. Great action in this one as they fight the mega-monsters and deal with a new threat form Hyperion. Kev Walker’s art is really tight too and perfect for this book with lots of oversized, hulking characters. Grade: B+ — Dean Stell
Secret Avengers #9 – While the kung-fu pulp element is dialed way down this month, this issue is solid if only because it’s one where the Secret Avengers live up to their namesake. It’s shadowy superhero covert ops stuff with Steve Rogers and John Steele dueling one another. In other words, it’s a pretty good time. There’s even a superhero trade that almost seems like a spy-swap of sorts. More than that though, Rogers looks particularly clever this month and truly feels like the leader of a covert squad. If anything, the superspy tone makes for an Avengers book that has its own clear identity and, in some ways, it’s own little corner of the Marvel Universe. It’s a unique read with solid writing and solid art. The only thing wrong with it is that I’m finding John Steele a bit bland in concept and appearance as a bad guy. There’s really just not that much to the guy, and certainly not much at all that we haven’t seen before. Max Fury is far more compelling. Grade: B — Alex Evans
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