Quick Rating: Good
Title: Return of the Native Part Three
As Wolverine and the Native canoodle in the woods, Sabertooth tries to hunt her down.
Writer: Greg Rucka
Pencils: Darick Robertson
Inks: Jimmy Palmiotti & Tom Palmer
Colors: Studio F
Letters: Rus Wooton
Editor: Axel Alonso & Warren Simons
Cover Art: Darick Robertson
Publisher: Marvel Knights
It took Greg Rucka’s writing to get me to read Wolverine, and as much as I’ve enjoyed this series overall, this last story arc isn’t quite grabbing me the way the first few have. Wolverine has hunted down a woman called simply “The Native,” who he finds he has a lot in common with, and I don’t just mean the sleeping skins they share in her cave. After the canoodling is over, Wolverine remembers that Sabertooth is out there looking for this girl, and he’s got to get her out somehow.
I think the part of this story I’m having trouble with is the idea that there’s a “native” woman running around with the same claws as Wolverine – it’s a pretty unique mutation, at least in the form he has it, and the fact that this girl has the same claws is a little farfetched to me. Plus, the story seems to hinge on the old Weapon X storyline, which isn’t a period of Marvel Comics history that really holds any interest for me. Still, that’s my problem, not a problem with the writing, so don’t take off too many points for that complaint.
Darick Robertson is the perfect penciller for this title. He draws the best out-of-costume Wolverine I’ve ever seen. He makes him look gruff and grizzled, without losing the compact size that makes him stand out amongst other superheroes.
It’s too bad that Rucka will be leaving the book at the end of this storyline, because he’s really made Wolverine an entertaining character to me. Very few people have done that, and this issue particularly ends in a fashion that leaves me completely flabbergasted, because I simply have no idea where he’s going to take the storyline. How many comic books can you say that about these days?
Quick Rating: Good
Title: What Goes Around
Forget Starfighter… Vincent sets his sights on Ethan!
Writer: Drew Melbourne
Pencils: Yvel Guichet
Inks: Joe Rubinstein
World’s Worst Roommate Art: D.J. Coffman
Colors: Rick Hiltbrunner
Letters: Jim Keplinger
Editor: Philip Simon
Cover Art: Yvel Guichet
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
The second issue of Dark Horse’s Archenemies miniseries offers up plenty of laughs, but the plot progression is rather muted, and it’s that flaw that bumps the rating down to 3.5. It’s a good issue, but not quite enough happens to make it rate any higher.
Fed up with his roommate, Ethan Baxer, would-be supervillain Vincent Darko decides to forgo his plans to destroy his arch-enemy and destroy his roommate instead… little does he know that Ethan and Starfighter are one and the same. A failed murder attempt makes Ethan fear that the nefarious Underlord has discovered his identity and fears for his roommate… unaware that Vincent is Underlord.
The first few pages build the situation nicely on the heels of last issue’s set-up, but most of the rest of the book is just Vincent plotting or Ethan worrying, without much else happening until the very end. We do get to meet some of the other characters in their world, which is nice, and the scripting is slick and funny… I laughed several times reading this book. I just wish more had happened in it, that’s all.
Guichet and Rubinstein’s artwork is solid, but Rubinstein’s inks were a little too heavy at times, making the book a bit darker than really fit the tone. On the other hand, they again have treated us to a cover that dovetails straight into the story, and for that, I’m enormously grateful. I’m not sure when it was made taboo for comic book covers to actually have something to do with the story, let alone (GASP!) have word balloons, but this series is delighting me in bucking that trend and doing a throwback to the days when covers were fun.
Melbourne and Coffman give us another installment of “World’s Worst Roommate” this issue as well – a funny gag strip that will resonate with anyone who’s ever had a roommate. Rounding out the issue is a nice array of bonus features and texts, including a great faux interview with Nanoman.
Between the cover style and the back-ups, this title really is everything I think comics should be – fun and loaded with goodies. We just need a little more plot this issue.
Quick Rating: Great
Title: March of the Wooden Soldiers (Out of the Woods Chapter One)
Snow White and Bigby Wolf deal with the repercussions of their time under mind control, while Prince Charming puts his own plans in motion.
Writer: Bill Willingham
Pencils: Mark Buckingham
Inks: Steve Leialoha
Colors: Daniel Vozzo
Letters: Todd Klein
Editor: Shelly Bond
Cover Art: James Jean
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo
This book is labeled as a new storyline on the cover, and technically it is, but it’s a book that relies heavily on previous storylines. Snow White begins her prenatal care, Bigby Wolf is furious over how King Cole glossed over Prince Charming killing Bluebeard, and an old friend reappears to give Snow White a dire warning.
The “dead friend gives a warning in a dream” technique has been used over and over again, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. This issue doesn’t really have a main plot to latch on to, because it continues many plot threads from previous issues, and they’re clearly all building towards a common climax.
With Snow White we’ve got the personal tale of a woman dealing with a pregnancy she didn’t expect or want, but is determined to stick out. Willingham also returns to the political machinations of the “Animal Farm” story arc this month as well, and dips a bit into the more horrific elements that capped “Storybook Love.” This is a storyline, in essence, that begins to tie together everything we’ve seen in Fables so far.
After skipping last month, Buckhingham is back with his wonderful pencils and really innovative layouts. I can’t think of anyone currently working in comics who has as much fun with panel shapes and layout as he clearly does every month in this title.
While this probably isn’t a great starting place, it is a great issue of a great title, and people who have been reading it for any length of time will find themselves still pulled along with a book that just doesn’t disappoint.
Oh, and for anyone who questioned the relevance of last month’s Fables: The Last Castle one-shot… you won’t want to miss this one.
Quick Rating: Good
Title: Strange New Visitor Part Three
With Superman missing, will the dimension-tossed Mr. Majestic save Metropolis… or destroy it?
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Pencils: Karl Kerschl
Colors: Tanya & Richard Horie
Letters: Nick J. Leighpez
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover Art: Ed McGuinness & Dexter Vines
Publisher: DC Comics
A quick recap for those who came in late: last issue, Superman was lost in time. Over this month’s issues of Action Comics and Adventures of Superman, Metropolis has been under assault by a time storm as Superboy, Steel, John Henry Irons and the Eradicator try to stop it — when Wildstorm’s Mr. Majestic comes tumbling out of the time storm and starts picking up Big Blue’s slack.
This issue — Majestic is convinced that the plan concocted to save the city will only make things worse, so to get him out of the way, the Eradicator has tossed him into the Phantom Zone. Now it’s a race against time to save Metropolis — but who’s going about it the right way?
This isn’t a Superman story, you’ve got to understand that, this is a story about how his allies and his city cope without him, and taken in that context, it’s quite good. I suppose it was only a matter of time before one of Wildstorm’s characters came tumbling over to the DC Universe, and not reading Wildcats I really don’t know if Majestic has been used much lately or if his presence here disturbs anything. What I do know is that he works — dropping a Superman surrogate into Metropolis gives the other characters a great chance to flex their respective personalities, treating him with hope or skepticism as is appropriate, and it’s far more effective to use an established character than it would be to just whip up a new Superman clone and drop him in instead.
Two things about the ending surprised me, neither of which I can really discuss without spoiling it, but I will say this much — the explanation of the time storm and the resolution of that story arc left me very satisfied, and where the characters wind up at the end could lead to some very interesting stories in the future if done correctly.
Karl Kerschel has outdone himself on the artwork for this story arc. Granted, he probably worked on this for months in advance, but in an era where it seems most artists can’t even turn out one quality comic in a month, it’s great to see a man who did three. He’s got a great look to all of his characters — the men are strong, the women are beautiful, the Eradicator is imposing and Mr. Majestic is… well… majestic. If this man doesn’t have any regular art assignments at the moment, Eddie Berganza should try to get him on a regular Superman book as soon as possible.
Overall, this was a very entertaining arc, but the absence of our main character made it feel very much like a fill-in… an enjoyable fill-in, but a fill-in nonetheless. In the next Action Comics, it will be time to begin unravelling the mystery of what happened to Superman, and for fans of the character, that can’t come soon enough.
Quick Rating: Good
Title: Earn Your Wings Part Two
With Namora in the Fantastic Four’s custody, the Exiles try to break her out.
Writer: Tony Bedard
Art: Mizuki Sakakibara
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Editor: Mike Marts
Cover Art: Mizuki Sakakibara
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Tony Bedard’s second issue of Exiles is mine too, and I’m more impressed with this one than last issue. With their new member Namora being held captive by Namor and the Fantastic Four, the Exiles and Beak sneak off to the Baxter Building to bust her out. What follows is the standard superhero misunderstanding and major throwdown as the Thing and the Human Torch find a bunch of strange mutants hanging around on their roof. Since the Exiles are strangers, though, the scene doesn’t seem quite as clichéd as it usually does, and the whole thing works pretty well.
We also get Namora’s rundown on the history of her own universe, which gets into the alternate reality concept that really appealed to be about the book in the first place. It’s a classic science fiction concept that seems to have found a great home in this title.
Beak’s inclusion in the series is working really well. He’s a character whose storyline in New X-Men had run its course, but he meshes pretty well in this series – so well, in fact, that one not only suspects, but hopes that when the Exiles leave the mainstream Marvel Universe, they take him with them as their new member instead of the spiteful and angry Namora
Sakakibara’s artwork is another strong suit. He has a soft style that’s pretty unique in the universe of superhero artists, but he doesn’t lose any of the strength that the characters need. His fight scenes work well too – I can’t imagine that it’s an easy task to depict Sasquatch throwing the Thing around like a rag doll, but he manages it.
I decided to give this series a try when Tony Bedard took the helm. As of last issue, I was still undecided, but this middle part of the storyline has moved me closer towards being a regular reader. I’m enjoying it, and that’s what I go to the comic book store for.
Quick Rating: Great
Skull wants to be a comic book artist, but he’s not very good. No problem – he’ll just do alternative comics!
Writer: Scott Kurtz
Art: Scott Kurtz
Letters: Scott Kurtz
Cover Art: James Kochalka
Publisher: Image Comics
This issue of PVP presents the most controversial, and most entertaining, storyline the to date. Innocent little Skull the Troll wants to be a comic book artist, but his artistic skills match his childlike mindset. Brent Sienna has a solution to the problem, though: “Fold it in half, staple it and call yourself an alternative comic book artist.” Skull makes a splash on the alt comic scene with “Graphamaximo”, and hilarity ensues, building to a head at the Tiny Press Expo.
When Kurtz did this story on his website, there was a livid, angry reaction from the alternative comics community, whereas just about everyone else found it pretty amusing. Frankly, I think the reason the strip provoked such an angry response is because it was right on the money. Kurtz clearly believes that most so-called “alternative” comics are garbage and he doesn’t mind saying it, even if the creators are ready to lynch him for it. It’s a classic case of the emperor having no clothes, and it’s the PVP reader that benefits from it.
Kurtz fills out the issue with some strips about his father and a storyline about Cole Richards going nuts over the release of an Indiana Jones videogame, all fun stuff, but it’s the “Graphamaximo” storyline that sells the book.
As always, Kurtz’s cartoony artwork is cute and funny. Artistically, though, the coup of this issue is getting alternative comic creator James Kochalka to do the cover. It’s a bit of vindication for Kurtz, as though a member of the alt community is telling the rest of them to lighten up and have a sense of humor, something few alternative comics really do. This was a fun storyline and the perfect comic to give to any art snob who takes comic books too seriously. It’ll really cheese them off.
Wondering what Somebody’s First Comic Book is all about? The explanation is on this page!
TITLE: Metal Heads
Writer: Len Strazewski
Penciller: Mike Parobeck
Inker: Paul Fricke
Letterer: Bob Pinaha
Colorist: Rick Taylor
Editor: Bryan Augustyn
Publisher: DC Comics/Impact Comics
PRIOR KNOWLEDGE: None. Looks like Spider-Man, but with a different bug. Yes, I know spiders aren’t bugs. Don’t lecture me.
IMPRESSIONS: Our hero, presumably the fly, crash-lands in a backyard and turns into a kid named Jason Troy. He passes out just in time for us to cut to a couple of bad guys. The boss is a pudgy little dude named Arachnus, who thoughtfully takes the time to give us their origins. Seems a bit odd, as the person he’s talking to most definitely should know the story already, but it certainly helps the reader.
Seems like Jason is suffering the problems of a double life. School and social life are suffering because he’s spending too much time as a superhero, and his mom is worried, but that doesn’t stop him from going into action the next day when some guys in armor attack the mayor at a parade. (Wow, the Mayor is actually wearing a sash that says “MAYOR.” I didn’t think that happened outside of The Simpsons.) There’s a fight scene, and we find out a couple of other guys in different armor are watching the whole thing. They seem to be happy about it, though. (Well, two out of three of them do.)
Not bad. The book doesn’t really tell us much about the Fly or where he comes from (except for what appears to be a magic amulet he uses to turn his powers on), but you don’t really need that to understand what’s happening here. Arachnus and his henchman don’t seem to factor into the rest of the issue, though, and the guys in yellow armor at the end are out of nowhere. I’m going to guess that both of those are setting up things for the next issue. You understand what’s going on, but you definitely get the feeling that this is only part of a story.