PopCultureAsylum’s Summer Comic Book Reviews
Summer means many things: Hot weather, bomb pops, grilling tons of meat, and fun blockbuster movies! Like the movie industry, summer is also when comics like to roll out their “summer blockbuster titles”. However, with time devoted to hitting up the beach, riding roller coasters and such, who has the time to read all of these comic book events? I apparently do! So here to make it easier on you, is my rundown of some of summer’s “big events” (Fair warning it’s 60% Marvel stuff…and also extremely geeky):
Avengers Vs. X-men
Marvel’s summer blockbuster this year is a free-for-all battle royale between the X-men and The Avengers. A few years back, the last great superhero battle Civil War got me to start reading comics again. So naturally, I was drawn to this series.
Overview: The Phoenix force is making its way to earth and seems to be zeroing in on “Mutant Messiah” Hope Summers as its new host! Hope of course, is the first mutant born since the events of “House of M”, in which the Scarlett Witch used her reality altering powers and made Mutants an endangered species. Both superhero groups see it as an omen of two very different things: The X-men see it as a beacon of hope (no pun intended) thinking that the life-giving Phoenix Force can bring mutants back from the brink of extinction. However, the Avengers are focused on the planet-eating destructive nature of the Phoenix Force and feel that this could mean the end of earth. Naturally, this causes a battle between the two groups.
Why It’s Interesting: This is probably our best heroes vs. heroes battle since the Civil War story arc. That one ended with the death of Captain America (it’s OK he got better!) I have a feeling something similar is going to happen; I’m putting my money on Cyclops buying the farm. In addition to the possibility of some big deaths, it’s pretty interesting to see dual team members Wolverine and Beast divide their loyalties between the X-men and The Avengers.
Overall Rating (So Far): Issue 1 started out with a promise of a big battle between the two groups, but then issue 2 really derailed things as the worst issue of the series so far. The tie-in books definitely have more meat to them than the main series, but following the recent release of issue 6 , it feels like the series is starting to head in the right direction. With 5 more issues left, now is a good time to be going that way! So without spoiling anything, looks like we’re in for a good second half. 3 Stars
Whether you agree with this being made or not; it’s happening! Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s landmark graphic novel is getting the (unnecessary?) prequel treatment. This summer we’ll get a look at The Minutemen, Rorschach, Silk Spectre, Night Owl and The Comedian’s back stories before the events of Watchmen. Hence the name.
Overview: Just 3 issues in at the time of this review; we’ve seen the first issue of Minutemen, Silk Spectre and The Comedian. For The Minutemen, we’re more or less seeing the “book within the story” of Hollis Mason’s tell-all “Under The Hood” so far. Just this time, we see illustrations and the haunting foreshadowing of the fates that will fall upon them later on. For Silk Spectre, we’re treated to Laurie Juspeczyk’s teenage angst of having an overbearing mother. Finally, we get to see The Comedian’s friendship with the Kennedy Clan.
Why It’s Interesting: The controversy alone is keeping me tuned in. On one hand, I’m a bit bummed out that DC is milking the Watchmen cash cow while Alan Moore complains about them corrupting his work. On the other hand, I’m kind of curious to see what they will do with the franchise. Fortunately, each prequel is a limited 6 or so issue run; so it runs little chance of being ran into the ground…unless they make an ongoing series afterwards (Still Before Watchmen?) So it’s pretty interesting either way. To put it into perspective: I am against Sony rebooting the Spider-man movies; I didn’t care that much for 3 despite being a Venom fan, but I love Sam Rami and Bruce Campbell cameos so I would have stuck with them for a 4th outing. With that said, I also know that’s the only way I’ll see Spidey on the silver screen now. Likewise, I know this is the only way I can read more Watchmen adventures… so they have my attention.
Overall Rating (So Far): 4 Stars! I’m on-board this train! Minutemen wasn’t anything new so it started out kinda “meh” for me, but then Silk Spectre had some Deadpool-y type daydream panels that made the story fun and The Comedian’s start was reminiscent of the “The Times are-a Changing” montage at the beginning of the Watchmen movie, but without The Comedian assassinating Kennedy. Pretty fun so far!
I really enjoyed Brian K. Vaughn’s “Y The Last Man” series and I’ve heard good things about his other works, so I was willing to check out Saga. Plus, being dubbed “Star Wars meets A Game of Thrones” had raised my curiosity enough to check it out.
Overview: Saga is a space opera about two star crossed lovers from opposing sides of a war on the run from bounty hunters. While on the run, they are also focused on keeping their newborn daughter Hazel out of harm’s way. So it’s the typical spaceships, forbidden love, monsters, weird aliens, and war kind of fun.
Why it’s Interesting: Space Opera; nuff said! Also, it’s a creator-owned series so I’m rooting for it to do well!
Overall Rating So Far: Some sites are eating this series up, for me personally, it’s starting off slow but I’m starting to like it. It takes time for me to jump into a series, usually by the 4th or 5th issue is when I decide to jump into a series or leave it behind. That’s how long it took me to devour Fables and Y: The Last Man. I’m starting to show interest in the series now, we’ll see how the next issue goes but I’m seeing a glimmer of greatness buried within. 2 Stars (But growing!)
Deadpool: Dead/Deadpool: Reborn
I love Deadpool! Next to Spider-man and Nightcrawler, Deadpool is easily my number 3 favorite superhero (is he considered to be one?) The current main series of Deadpool has a wonderful mix of humor and more humor which makes it a very fun series to get into right now.
Overview: Deadpool was a project of Weapon X and like Wolverine, he was endowed with a healing factor but with an added bonus of insanity! Deadpool has longed for the big sleep for quite some time and has gone so far as to provoking a one on one fight with the Hulk to be killed off once and for all. Of course, every time his healing factor kicks in and he’s back alive and kicking ass. Now for the first time, it looks like thanks to a serum that negates his healing factor,Deadpool has a chance to stay dead.
Why It’s Interesting: Deadpool becomes mortal! His first story arc on the new ongoing series ended with him shooting himself in the head, only to recover and show up in the next issue. Deadpool abused his healing factor and now he gets thrown into a situation where it won’t save him. Obviously, he quickly learns that being killable may not be the best thing for him….too bad he has everyone gunning for him now including his teammates X-Force!
Rating (So Far): On the surface, it’s not any longer than a normal Deadpool story arc, but having a mortal Deadpool makes things pretty fun and interesting. This is definitely worth checking out. 4 Stars
Batman: The Court of Owls/Night of Owls
Overview: When DC re-launched all their titles late last year, Batman was introduced to an intriguing new group of villains: a secret society known as the court of the Owls along with their seemingly immortal enforcers: The Talons! This group has, for decades, been secretly controlling Gotham City. Bruce Wayne gets on their bad side when he announces plans to re-shape Gotham City, so they sick The Talon on him….then we get some Batman bad-assery!
Why It’s Interesting: Batman has a new villain to fight! This gives us a nice break from his usual rogue gallery. Secondly, it’s within the vein of other great relatively recent villains of Hush and Dr. Simon Hurt, in which the battle between Batman and the Court of the Owls turns personal for not just Batman, but for Nightwing as well!
Rating (So Far): Quite honestly this is probably the most exciting Batman story since Hush! I mean I liked The Black Glove and Batman RIP, but Hush had a bit more “pow!” to it! So this kind of reminds me of that sort of Batman story. So needless to say, I’m enjoying it. 4 Stars
Spider-man: “Ends of the Earth”/ “Spider-men”
Spider-man has quite a bit going on as of late with a new movie coming out and such. So, it’s not surprising to see “web-head” pop up in pretty much every big arc this summer. In addition to fighting the X-men in the aforementioned Avengers vs X-men event; his solo adventures has him fighting a dying Dr. Octopus and meeting a different Spider-man in a universe in which Peter Parker is dead. So he’s got a busy summer ahead of him!
Overview(s): In “The Ends of the Earth”, a dying Dr. Octopus hatches a plan to save the world…after “speeding up the effects of global warming” and then announcing a plan to save the world from such a disaster. Of course, Spidey knows better but basically has the entire planet against him.
Opposite of this adventure, is a union between Peter Parker and Miles Morales (aka the “Ultimate Marvel” universe’s current Spider-man) in a limited series simply titled “Spider-men”. This marks the first time a character from the “Main Marvel Universe” (called the 616 universe) meets with a character of the Ultimate Universe . Readers of Ultimate Spider-man know that universe’s Peter Parker died a few months back at the hands of the Green Goblin.
Why it’s Interesting: “Ends of the Earth” teases to be the swan song of one of Spider-man’s most iconic foes, just in time for Spidey’s big 50th anniversary! The other comic “Spider-men”, makes for an interesting crossover as the definitive Spider-man finds a universe that not only is his secret identity widely known…he is also dead in that universe! Plus, not really getting to read anything featuring the new Ultimate Universe’s current Spider-man, it’s a good jumping on point to be introduced to Miles Morales.
Rating(s) So Far: “Ends of the Earth” just wrapped up and while it makes a decent story arc, it sort of ends with a whimper. The first few issues were fun to read, but it ended pretty weakly in it’s final act. Since hitting the “kinda reset button” on Spidey a few years ago with “Brand New Day”, we’ve seen some decent stories come across such as “American Son” and some great stories such as “New Ways to Die”. This one could have been so much better, but it still makes for a readable arc (Plus he decks “Al Gore”). At least now, he’s doing battle with The Lizard. So hopefully that makes for a better arc. 2 Stars
“Spider-men” on the other hand just kicked off. I have not really read anything from the Ultimate Universe of Marvel since the events of Ultimatum in which more or less most of the iconic Marvel heroes are killed off. It left a bad taste in my mouth. So I haven’t been properly introduced to Miles Morales’ Spider-man yet. But 2 issues in, I’m enjoying this story so far. 3 Stars
OK, that wraps it up and now I feel like a nerd…I need to go out and socialize with humans now. Happy reading! (If your favorite summer comic story arc was ignored, sound off below!)