Renaldo Matadeen reviews a bunch of books today. We have reviews of Avengers #20, JLA #4, Uncanny X-Force #19, Wolverine and the X-Men #3, Fantastic Four #601, and Generation Hope #14.
Avengers 20 -
Acuna on art is not my favorite but Bendis hands off a nice script here as his time dwindles and winds down. It's also nice to see the machinations of Osborn as he swindles Steve's roster on a wild goose chase. Of course, it is too similar to Siege and Dark Reign where his plans initially look indefatigable and yet...somehow...Osborn manages to fall flat on his face. I do hope to see Spider-Man take aim in New Avengers also...and while it seems mundane, repetitive and borderline cheap to be repeating the DARK Avengers arc, it's fun reading Bendis as he writes the maniac called Osborn. He gets a good handle on this guy...no doubt. I don't think it's uncreative or lazy to go DARK again as I felt Siege and the fall of Osborn was pretty flawed and too quick to rush into the Heroic Age, but after Emma Rios' Osborn solo with Kelly...well, I knew Bendis would be waiting to toss him a bone and a boner...with Vicky Hand. Of course, Norm's allies here make for even more fun...although his new DARK roster's machinations and impulsive motives don't still too well with me...what stands out is Bendis gives a real...yet surreal sense of ambition, tact and guile with this lunatic. It's well done how he neutralized his opponents...but before the rubble, ash and brimstone come crumbling down and roofs caving in on heads, Bendis will surely drop some crazy bombs on his way out. I'm no Bendis fan but when he's leaving titles, he drops some doozies...and I sense him doing something grand and majestic here. The book isn't exciting or riveting as I'd like but this particular arc piques my interest a lot. I love waiting to see where he goes from here after this cunning and conniving issue.
JLA #4 -
Williams and Lee on art simply sparkle. The colors, textures and grimacing action panels are in pristine sequence with immaculate coloring. It's one of the best drawn books of the year to me. Geoff Johns however, yet again delivers an elementary script...and taking four issues to get to the final reveal of the last few pages is something that would suffice in two issues. He is dragging this out. Too Much. TOO LONG!
Cyborg has a nice intro here and as relevant and tortured as it comes off, his addition doesn't feel natural. It's forced, synthetic...fabricated. The rest of the team find themselves opting to bicker about leadership...and showing who has cojones. There's the brash attitude and cockiness that we've seen in the other 3 issues...from a lot of the members thus far...it's a bit old by now. Also, we see retarded and honest flirting. Sometimes, it seems Johns gets desperate for laughs - venturing into Spiderman territory. It's quippy but unwanted here. That aside, the flawed antics of the team, a lack of direct organized power and team-cohesive chemistry should be dandy for the Darkseid battle as he seems as powerful as ever. Now with art like this, a kickass villain in the picture, Johns needs to add to the scene...the deft skill, apt writing and scholastic aptitude he placed in his other titles. It's floundering here and the book is resting too much on wanton violence and amazing art. I'm barely hanging in...
Uncanny X-Force #19 -
Rodriguez fills in nicely on art with Remender delivering a solid epilogue as expected. Many things are resolved such as the intentions and purposes of Fantomex, although obscurity and vague pleasure arrive from his interactions with Logan. Logan also derives a new objective for the unit while hashing it out with a fellow Avenger and campus personnel. It's also nice to see him admitting the bad in the good that he's trying to do and realizing that he has no choice but to keep UXF in operation. The AoA threads wrap up nicely as we see Logan beckoning for Jean to stay, although Melita seems to be in his pants these days. I digress with this infidelity. The AoA arc sets up the fate of the new Lapham/Torres book in 2012 (teased in Point One) but also helps give some new additions to Logan's school and covert team. The clandestine team has new purpose with the same old mannerism. The additions to the Logan camp are somehow free-flowing and natural with the Genesis arc, a play off Superman, well coaxed into the book. The Angel arc with Betsy is perfectly drawn and done to exact perfection. Few flaws and hitches embark in this book, and Fantomex again manages to steal much of the show. It's quite distracting to see the final few pages but it's welcome. And with Rick on Sec. Avengers soon...this book seems heading for good things. AvX should be frenetic!
Wolverine and the X-Men #3 -
Logan shows his worth as an Avenger with a well-scripted interlude with Steve Rogers. Aaron knocks it out of the park here as he keeps the severity of the situation with Quire while maintaining the levity throughout the book that Logan's school has in it due to its eclectic roster. The Hellfire Club, anew, shows they aren't arbitrary in their motives but Logan and his school, under attack, have to thank Kid Omega for something rare...an act of heroism. Aaron keeps up with his stellar work on this ensemble roster, and keeps his violent Logan in check. The Pryde/Iceman, Quire/Idie/Broo/Kid Gladiator interactions are spot-on, and with Remender tossing some newbies over...it's gonna be a fun few issues coming up. The last page here is killer...literally, and with Hellfire getting some legal slaps in the face, Logan's team should be in for some nervy and rocky times. But once Aaron is at the helm, everything keeps looking up. With AvX looming, Aaron is by far the most integral facet of all the writers, as he's sculpted a vast world for the X-Men's future here with this impending war and looming doom...but the extra fun he has on this title, is made all that much sweeter by the amazing capability and versatile Bachalo. He aids the artistic team in knocking this book out the park. Such a spectacle. Bradshaw has huge boots to fill.
Fantastic Four 601 -
With Epting on interiors, and a brilliant Choi cover, it's fitting that Hickman sticks to his guns and retains the cohesive nature of a prim and proper storyteller that he usually depicts...on all his titles. He dictates the meshing wars so well here with so many threads coming together from various past plot seeds sown. The big turn is Johnny returning, older and wiser, with pets and an arsenal. The Avengers are present here as Ronan unleashes a threat of the Kree Armada upon the earth, and it's also a full-scale ring-event for Black Bolt's Inhumans to rear their heads. Hickman utilizes such a big cast but keeps the core intact, while limiting all FF members...just to highlight the new Johnny Storm. The young FF would be better suited with Doom here but it's all about Johnny's revival to 616. It's brilliant and reminiscent of a resurgent WWHULK-vibe. Hickman's story is amazing, with spectacular dialogue and of course, he keeps that dire apocalyptic feel stitched into exquisite dialogue. Further compounding the lovely Epting art, is the fact that nothing seems set in stone by Hickman as he keeps tossing out one surprise after the next. The Johnny was one such egg, and another golden egg seems to come from the Inhumans. The one downside is that Spiderman gets limited time and is relegated to being a bystander. Reed also isn't as proactive as I'd like but such uncharacteristic plays are made for up in the issue's finale. Hickman continues to deliver...it's great stuff.
Generation Hope 14 -
Usually Gillen is adept at being a wordsmith but this issue has too much pragmatism, expository prattling...and a wayward Emma/Scott ploy that falls flat. Emma mucked up by not killing Shaw and it bites her in the ass...plain and simple. There's too much rambling as we see a piss-poor lazy group of villains trying to stop Hope and weaponize Sebastian. It baffles me how badly they messed up his isolation...by being banished to an island by Emma and Fantomex? Well...UXF ANYONE?? That aside, it's nice how sympathetic Shaw has become but with Roberson's lazy art here (a huge blow to my expectations...I am truly shocked), this issue feels muddled and a stick in the mud. It doesn't thrive with the other issues...and while it's a good idea to have additions post-Schism, they should be building on Pixie...and not adding forced villains...or amateurs with memory loss. It ain't Memento. Gillen lost the feel here but it isn't that butchered. I may exaggerate when I say it was bad an issue...but it certainly was not near the high standard of previous issues. The final page should dangle controversy for Namor, Emma and Scott...but more romantic implications may not be necessarily a bad thing. The romance on Hope's unit has died down...and maybe with the Phoenix force returning, that hints at some shocking times ahead. There may be no time for romance, but there's time to make better stories than this suicide bomber of a read!!!