Captain America & Bucky #621


[Marvel Comics, 9.3]

Jeffrey Simpson:
Of the two Captain America books that Ed Brubaker is currently writing this one is by far the best, which is saying a lot since I like the other quite a bit.  It seems sort of obvious to say this, but somewhere along the line Brubaker has elevated Cap WWII stories to an art form.  Though we’ve seen the early days of Bucky and Cap told before, never has it been done with this level of detail and storytelling craft.
[9]

Caroline Pruett:
This World War II-era story is the book to throw in the hands of people who loved the Captain America movie and want to know what comics-universe Steve Rogers is all about. Granted, it has the kid-sidekick version of Bucky, which is different from the film, but it’s presented in a way that is charming without being dated or goofy. Ed Brubaker and Mark Andreyko’s smart, economical script also doesn’t shy away from the serious aspects of a teenager in costume going on military missions. The friendship between Steve and Bucky anchors the book, though, and Chris Samnee’s delightful art does as much to capture their camaraderie as any dialogue could. Bettie Breitweiser’s peerless work as a colorist is the icing on a glorious cake. This is everything you could want a Captain America comic to be.
[10]

Jason Urbanciz:
This book is a heck of a lot of fun. Detailing Cap and Bucky’s initial adventures before joining the war effort in Europe we see these two men getting to know one another and Bucky coming to grips with what it means to take a life.  I don’t know if it’s the addition of Mark Andreyko as co-writer or that he’s now free of event-related constraints but there’s a life to Brubaker’s Cap here that’s been missing for the last year or so. Also, there’s not enough to be said for Chris Samnee’s art. Direct, action-packed and a little playful, Samnee can pull you through all of the emotions the story requires.  I hope this team gets to run on this book for a long time, because it’s a treasure.
[9]

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Daredevil #2


[Marvel Comics, 8.5]

Caroline Pruett:
This book is as good as everybody is saying it is, and everybody is saying it’s the best thing Marvel is putting out.  I’m a ‘Daredevil’ fan, a Mark Waid fan, and a Paolo Rivera fan, so none of this comes as any surprise. Still, I keep flipping through this issue and smiling anew. Matt Murdock is more fun than he’s been in years, and even the pacing feels like it’s from another era. The issue packs in a classic fight-and-talk between Matt and Steve Rogers-as-Cap, plot-advancing criminal investigation by Matt in detective mode (notable among other things for the matter-of-fact presentation of an out gay attorney and his domestic partner), and a trippy-looking supervillain. Foggy Nelson even gets a few pages to flirt with a cute D.A. Decompression, what decompression? I have to admit, though, my favorite thing in this issue was the inclusion of a classic letter page. The Silver Age fan who wrote in to say that, “There is no reason why radiation couldn’t magnify a blind person’s senses’ may be my new favorite person. Thanks, comics!
[10]

Jason Urbanciz:
Mark Waid & Paolo Rivera keep up the pace from the first issue, opening with yet another inventive fight scene.  Daredevil, still not wanting to deal with the past finds that past definitely wants to deal with him, this time in the form of Captain America.  Though I have some qualms with Cap’s characterization here (though this may just be who he is post-Fear Itself, which would be a shame), this is still a fine issue. The reveal of the arc’s villain in the final few pages is surprising, but welcome, showing us that this is no longer the street-level DD we’ve been stuck with for the past decade.
[7]

Chris Walsh:
Yes. YES. Please, start reading this title if you aren’t already. This new Daredevil run has a fun vibe that I haven’t seen since Thor The Mighty Avenger. It’s light and adventuresome without being simple or silly. I really, really wish more superhero comics were like this. The tone of the story and the vibrant, stylish art work so well together. And the take on Daredevil’s radar is cool, especially when put together with the creatures that he stumbles across late in the issue. Those things alone have me looking forward to the next issue. Can’t wait!
[9]

Solo Review: Superman/Batman #87


[DC Comics, 7]

Angela Paman:
It’s ironic how I wait until the last three issues to check this book out. I’m going to let you in on something about me: Superman is my least favorite character of the Trinity (Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman). Yes, he has some good stories but he didn’t do it for me. It was Batman that got my attention because how can you not like a man of mystery.I can go on about this but there’s a book that needs to be reviewed. I bet you are wondering why did it take me eighty some odd issues to read Superman/Batman. Two words: Josh Fialkov. Fialkov has caught my eye as of late with ECHOES and TUMOR so seeing his name on this arc was a given to give it a shot. In this last issue of “The Secret” has the Joker going against Clark Kent while trying to prove Batman is innocent in the death of a reporter. Fialkov gets the dynamic of Superman and Batman. He got me interested in the book then DC had to cancel it in the mist of their reboot/relaunch. While I loved the story, the art by Tomas Giorello is a bit off at times but gets the tone of the story. I’m a little sad that it is the last issue of the series. Hopefully this gets collected in a trade and if it does, you should check it out.
[7]

X-Men Schism #3


[Marvel Comics, 9]

Jeffery Simpson:
One of the storytelling issues with Civil War was that the split between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers seemed to happen too fast, and the lines seemed more drawn up by Marvel editorial than the story itself.  Though X-Men Schism is telling a very similar story, the fracturing of the partnership between Wolverine and Cyclops, the fact that Jason Aaron is taking his time in building the tension between the pair is going to make that eventual split that much more believable.  My only complaint is that the main threat, a group of hyper-intelligent children, is fairly slightly too similar to Eziekel Stane from Matt Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man run for my taste.
[10]

Jeff Stolarcyk:
Schism is what I always wanted Civil War to be: an organic breaking point built on the shoulders of years of storytelling. This is the issue where Cyclops and Wolverine finally come to loggerheads and it’s an earned conflict. Even better – there’s no clear ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ like there was in Civil War. This issue also fleshes out the new Hellfire Club a bit more, and they are joyously creepy. Schism is Jason Aaron firing on all cylinders with an all-star art team and that is basically a must-read.
[8]

Chris Walsh:
First of all, everything with Idie in this issue crushed me. Crushed. Me. And then Generation Hope followed it up and destroyed me utterly. Oof. Whew. Ahem, OK. Now, as to the meat of the goings-on in the issue and especially the tension this builds between Scott and Logan: very well-played, Mr. Aaron. I’m totally buying into this schism. Logan concern for the innocence of those who still have it is a good contrast with his violent tendencies and rough edges and seems to fit well with what I’ve seen of Logan and his mentoring of all his girls. And Scott, whew. Like many seem to be, I’m not a huge Scott fan, but I don’t dislike him either; he’s just generally a bit too dull to inspire much interest. But, what’s been building with him as the leader of the mutants, trying to do what’s right and trying to protect his people, and how that’s clashing with other considerations like how his people themselves are impacted by his decisions. I just keep seeing that Fear Itself ad with Scott dressed like Magneto. It’s all bubbling up, and I’m absolutely hooked to find out just how it explodes.
[9]

Invincible Iron Man #507


[Marvel Comics, 6]

Caroline Pruett:
The previous issue of Invincible Iron Man, in which Tony Stark fell off the wagon and into an Asgardian dwarf’s quasi-magical workshop, was as strong an outing as this Fraction/Larroca book has seen in a while. Writing about an alcoholic’s relapse without falling into cliche is tricky, and moving the action to a magical/absurd context helped this audacious character beat feel fresh. Issue 507, unfortunately, is too more-of-the-same, and it turns out a little bit of carousing-with-dwarfs goes a long way. Otherwise, this is a serviceable event tie-in, Fraction’s character work is typically strong, and the Pepper Potts/Sasha Hammer mecha fight is good fun. Still, the issue doesn’t advance the story much, and the resolutely boring artwork of penciller Larroca and colorist Frank D’Armata does Fraction’s script no favors.
[5]

Jeffery Simpson:
Back from Paris and now in Asgard designing weapons, as seen in Fear Itself, Tony Stark shares the focus of this issue with Pepper Potts who has headed back into the city that Tony has fled, meeting up with Sasha Hammer and a team of Hammer Industries armored soldiers.  At this point I’m starting to get Fear Itself fatigue, and it would have been nice to see the characters in some other context than moving at the edges of the big event.
[6]

Jeff Stolarcyk:
I consistently love Iron Man, and think that the character work being done with Tony in Asgard is compelling, but the book feels uneven with its switching back and forth between Asgard and Earth. And there are more dwarves, too. All told, though, your mileage on this book is going to be directly related to your attitude on the loss of Tony’s sobriety. As a result, this is going to be a divisive one.
[6.5]

Solo Review: DC Retroactive 1990’s: Batman #1


[DC Comics, 8]

Matt Springer:
The worst I can say about this one-shot, an installment in DC’s series paying tribute to various eras and creative teams for their most popular characters? It’s too expensive. Chop out the pointless reprint and charge me $2.99, and it’s about the perfect superhero comic book. Don’t most of the people who will buy this already have the reprint in their longboxes anyway? Story-wise, if you’re like me and have fond memories of the Alan Grant/Norm Breyfogle run on Batman from the early nineties, you will get a big kick out of this story. It reunites the creative team with one of their best creations, the villainous Ventriloquist and his mystical dummy, Scarface. It stirs in a bit of the fantastic with a dead mobster zombie resurrected by radioactive waste, and Grant probably approaches the tenuous philosophical underpinning of his story from too great a height. Any Batman comic book that features the caption “What is life?” on its second page might be gettin’ a bit above its raisin’. But as a kid who cut his comics teeth on these very Grant/Breyfogle books, it was a treat to return to that era. Let’s see more, DC.
[8]

Thunderbolts #162


[Marvel Comics, 7.5]

Jeffery Simpson:
While the cast of the book has gotten too big to keep track of, it’s still an incredibly fun read.  The core characters are delightful, particularly the rather weird relationship between Moonstone and Man Thing.  The art, and the influx of new characters that have joined the book in recent issues make it a bit hard to follow who beyond the original cast of Jeff Parker’s run, is doing what.  There’s a conspiracy going on, but I’m not quite sure whose involved or what they’re hoping to achieve.  Still there’s enough awesomeness going on to keep me interested including a Giant Size Man-Thing.
[8]

Jeff Stolarcyk:
This issue is all about Jeff Parker playing the long game. He’s taking plots from various points in his run and smashing them into one another in the most inconvenient way possible. And it’s consistently fun, which is a feat. And as a bonus, we get a splash-page-sized joke that Parker has to have been sitting on for the better part of a year.
[7]

Chris Walsh:
I’m not sure what it says about me that Thunderbolts and Secret Six are two of my favorite comics from Marvel and DC — but I don’t think I’m alone in my love of these anti-hero books. I don’t know, maybe now that I’m older, there’s something about actual bad guys being bad (or maybe even trying to be good) as opposed to good guys being bad, since, let’s face it, how the Thunderbolts act and how a lot of “heroes” act in superhero books isn’t always that different. With youthful rebelliousness behind me, I may be more drawn to stories about evil striving to be good than about good constantly faltering into evil. Hmm. Well, more specific to this issue, while the reptile critter storyline isn’t doing much for me, the machinations of the various Thunderbolts always makes for a good read and the whole subplot with the Man-Thing and Satanna has me intrigued.
[8]