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Last Week's Comics In Twenty-Two Panels

Dr Manolis V writes for Bleeding Cool;

Deadpool of your dreams, Dead Professors, Liefeld Apocalypse and the increasingly incomprehensible Batman continuity.


Last Week's Comics In Twenty-Two Panels

It's Deadception! AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #12 is the book to beat this week, an insane wank-fest of self-serving geek references from comics and movies, from Inception to the Breakfast Club. Peter Parker has been inception-ed into a prison of his own subconscious and Deadpool is the only one who can save him by taking over his book, from the recap page to the letters. Aaron Kuder is a superstar artist in the making, he makes every last small detail of this book, no matter how bloody or ludicrous feel super-substantial. Plus: Deadpool as a cheerleader!


Last Week's Comics In Twenty-Two Panels

"Beauty and the Beast" set in a dystopian near-future ruled by the fashion industries starring a cross-dressing coat check boy/girl. FASHION BEAST is a very Alan Moore concept from a never-developed movie script with the Sex Pistols manager from the 80s, adapted here into a 10-issue comic book series by official Moore adaptation guru Anthony Johnston. And it all clearly shows in this first issue. It's very Alan Moore, there's something oddly cinematic that the artist sometimes struggles with, but it's also very "first third of the first act" in that it doesn't clearly establish the premise of the series or provide any other substantial hook.


Last Week's Comics In Twenty-Two Panels

Professor X's death in AVENGERS VS X-MEN #11 wasn't a heroic last stand and it didn't serve any real purpose other than sacrifice a character who had served his time in the spotlight and was happily retired for the sake of providing an "ooh" moment to elevate the threat status of the villain before the last issue of the book. He was killed to make Phoenixclops look nastier, to underline the transition to DAAAAARK Phoenix. But wait, wasn't Cyclops already fighting the entirety of Earth's heroes even before Xavier gave him daddy issues? Xavier's death didn't turn the tide of the battle. The Phoenix was already pretty dark and evil and the heroes already didn't stand a chance. Xavier was sacrificed to provide a cool yet vapid cliffhanger.

It wasn't this rich character's heroic last stand, it was his X-MEN: THE LAST STAND. Remember that? Where the Phoenix disintegrates Cyclops and then Xavier simply to prove a point? Only, Ratner probably gave the guy a more meaningful death. and that's saying it all.



Last Week's Comics In Twenty-Two Panels

This one scene from UNCANNY X-FORCE #31, Sabretooth and Mystique in mid-coital bliss on white linens inside their eeeeevil brotherhood HQ smearing each other with raw bloody beef and spouting exposition, must be THE single worst-written scene in the entire X-men line this year. All the villains in this piece are acting like cardboard fan-fiction-y parodies of themselves, every single scene is sickening in its attempt to stay "edgy" and unconventional. Remender has proven he's so much better than this wankfest, so what's to blame?


Last Week's Comics In Twenty-Two Panels

I was surprised DC so blatantly gave up their continuity cheat of "Batman operating as an urban legend before the new five year window" in BATMAN #0. Nope, the entire Bat-continuity is now officially cramped within five measly years, all four Robins, the crippling, the death and return, the ELEVEN YEAR OLD SON!

James Tunion IV's backup story was incredibly more rewarding than Snyder's little rooftop chat sequence. Catching up with each future Robin on the night of the first lighting of the Bat-signal as the Batman moves from urban legend to the city's best hope. And yes, there was also this:

… which I fully applaud as a character-defining move, fitting the existing profile of Jason's childhood and giving him a push towards trying to redeem himself as Robin. Without being too read up on the laws and such, the following page's subtle exposition about Jason not being aware the gun was loaded surely dismisses any "accessory to murder" allegations.


Last Week's Comics In Twenty-Two Panels

Please pay attention, I'm about to get my NERD on. I hope DC forgives me for applying my PhD-honed counting skills here, but…

Well, this same week we had two books that directly contradict Batman's new timeline. Snyder's book clearly places Batman's first appearance somewhere between five to six years ago. Now, if we take a look at BATMAN AND ROBIN #0, a very concise history of Damian's childhood from "birth" to his first appearance in "Batman & Son", we witness an early flashback showing an infant Damian discovering his father's cowl in a trunk, on his birthday. Then the following training montage shifts through four more of Damian's birthdays, until we reach the sixth in a row, which is clearly labeled as "a year and a half ago". This places the cowl scene as, well, one, two, threefourfivesix, SEVEN and a half years ago. How would Talia have Batman's cowl in a trunk before Bruce Wayne even had the notion to create the identity?

This is my thing with the five-year window. It's terribly constricting, nay, suffocating to the character and the reader. Since Batman's history was NOT rebooted like Superman's or Wonder Woman's, the reader is now asked to accept/compress the entire history of the character into these five years and it's a great distraction from enjoying the books as they are. Like say, trying to fit an 11-year old son into the 5-year timeline. The average reader doesn't care about the exact age and timeline of things until you make it your business to keep shoving it in their face without backing it up with the necessary planning.


Last Week's Comics In Twenty-Two Panels

I mean, there's "I can't draw" (which I won't accept for Liefeld, he has his issues but has on occasion delivered things that are indeed passable) and then there's "F**K YOU I'm not bothered" like this GRIFTER #0 cover. This is a 5-minute sketch sold to DC as the cover to a book that contains some breath-taking art by Scott Clark. "[He] had to work with that crap".

(and hey, I'm being polite here and not even touching DEATHSTROKE #0)


The rest of the week:


Last Week's Comics In Twenty-Two Panels

Don't let Gaga near a copy of CHEW #28, she will eat this shit up. All this, murderous cyborg roosters, dirty one-night stands, severed fingers/arms/legs and exploding cows too.


Last Week's Comics In Twenty-Two Panels

There's something very arthouse movie noir about THE CREEP #1, soft nuances in the characterisation and a numb feeling of quiet despair over a fairly cut and dry story of a detective (afflicted with acromegaly) investigating the mysterious suicide of a teenage boy.


Last Week's Comics In Twenty-Two Panels

The most (only?) rewarding aspect of the latest ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN series is following Ultimate Kitty Pryde's transformation from "Spider-man's angsty ex" to "militant leader of the mutant race". #16 takes in her full intensity, set against the number one ultimate bad-ass Nick Fury.


Last Week's Comics In Twenty-Two Panels

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #0 flies a fine line between hothead jack-ass Guy Gardner and heroic stand-up Guy to find the colourful character we love to relate to. It's the little things like his demand for the customised jacket or his attitude towards "Harold" that bring Guy to life here without negating him to a caricature.


Last Week's Comics In Twenty-Two Panels

Francesco Francavilla is doing some tremendous work in CAPTAIN AMERICA & BLACK WIDOW #636. Fluid and loose inking, unique colour choices, both bold in contrast and moody. He's an inspired unconventional choice of an artist that really elevates this book.


Last Week's Comics In Twenty-Two Panels

After a very exciting number of self-contained issues of (evil) Bruce Banner pitting the Hulk in increasingly more improbable scenarios, all told from Hulk's POV, INCREDIBLE HULK #13 finally turns the camera to see just what the heck Banner had been doing behind the scenes all this time.

Last Week's Comics In Twenty-Two Panels

WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #16 (much like BATMAN AND ROBIN #0 this week) takes the implausible concept of an influencial super-murderous 11 year old kingpin and actually provides a compelling argument for it. Apart from that bit about the X-Men locking up a bunch of toddlers inside Ryker's general population.


Last Week's Comics In Twenty-Two Panels

I declare this the coolest name for a Doctor Who story EVER! The editors of the DOCTOR WHO 2012 SPECIAL even got an artist named "Matt Smith" to (beautifully) illustrate it. The mind control fez story, amusing as it is, does end with oddly (yet fitting with the current darker season as Rich has been covering), with the Doctor offhandedly (and knowingly) causing the explosive genocide of an entire alien species on Earth. Again.


Last Week's Comics In Twenty-Two Panels

You know this guy already, Eisner-winning FABLES artist Mark Buckingham, who is providing art for the fourth story in the DOCTOR WHO 2012 SPECIAL, featuring this brilliantly layed-out Phoenix egg kickball session. Gotta love how the curved ball trajectory leads the reader's eye and each panel layout is designed to seamlessly accommodate it. This man NEVER phones it in.


Last Week's Comics In Twenty-Two Panels

What can I say? It's a good week for comic book art! My fellow Greek, Vasilis Lolos is taking over the art duties for the arc beginning in CONAN THE BARBARIAN #8 and he delivers the most unconventional depiction of the Cimmerian we've seen so far. It's quite stylised and over-exaggerated but it stays true to the essence of the character that Brian Wood is channeling with this series. The real show-stopper here is Lolos' unexpected knack for the deadly ladies in the book and how magnificently his inkwork meshes with Dave Stewart's colour pallette.



Last Week's Comics In Twenty-Two Panels

RESURRECTION MAN #0 closes the book's short run by taking a Liefeld cliffhanger and resolving it by using a plot twist from a Lizard story (Spectacular Spidey #237-239, look it up). It's been a fun journey, giving new inter-connected origins to all of the original book's characters, but ultimately it falls short to the original (a brilliant run currently out on TPB). If you were unfamiliar with these people, you'd hardly come to care for them through this brief encounter.


Last Week's Comics In Twenty-Two Panels

So what exactly is Tom DeFalco building at with the secret history of the very familiar looking Kryptionian clone rebels in SUPERBOY #0? This new labrat dweeb version of Superboy has been dead in the water since his very first issue. You just can't help comparing him to the younger Superman of a similar age in Morrison's ACTION COMICS and find him lacking. Is it the jean and t-shirt look?


Last Week's Comics In Twenty-Two Panels

… is a terrible eyesore. Is it the new light gray base? The black boots and logo against the yellow gloves and belt? The lack of a cowl and that new bat-mask? The pony-tail or Ed Benes' inability to draw a teenager? GAH! I'm getting nerd-rage. The story itself features Babs' first donning of a rather more impromptu Bat-outfit and her first criminal take-down. This is Gail Simone's best story on this new title, perfectly capturing Babs' youth and inexperience, along with her determination and bravery.


Last Week's Comics In Twenty-Two Panels

I enjoyed Zeb Wells' creepy take on the manipulative and dangerous adult Illyana during his run on NEW MUTANTS, but Kieron Gillen seems to be taking her a bit too far into cuckoo-cray-cray-land with UNCANNY X-MEN #18. It's the story equivalent of taking all the interesting work done with her in the past few years and flushing it down the toilet.


Last Week's Comics In Twenty-Two Panels

…but does he also lie about lying? JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #643 subverts everything we thought we knew and loved about this series and Kid Loki, but it could still be him playing the villain to further redeem himself. In this one case, we're only seeing what he's doing, instead of his reasons. It's been a terrific twisty road getting here and every story beat has had its significance.


Last Week's Comics In Twenty-Two Panels

If there's one clear must-read of the week it's the one mainstream book removed from all this crossover nonsense and simply relishing in its nerdiness: AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #12. We should only dream of getting more comics that are this unassuming and downright FUN!

If you're not an X-MEN, BATMAN or TEAM 7 (hehe) fan, I doubt there was much else to be excited about from the big two.

The majority of DC's #0 issues (SUICIDE SQUAD #0, GRIFTER #0, DEATHSTROKE #0 and of course TEAM 7 #0) featured the secret origins of the new Team 7, who are ominously shaping up to be the "Steve Trevor" of DCNu's third publishing semester. I couldn't even bother getting into the specifics of them in the reviews proper, but there's only so much Grifter I can stomach in one week.

Similarly all of the bat-books (BATMAN, BATGIRL, BATMAN AND ROBIN) tried to set up the new Batman continuity post-Flashpoint but failed to merge into any sort of cohesive timeline (although each was a fantastic read on its own merits).

Marvel's X-Men and Avengers books are stuck in mid-AVX limbo. The point where they have run out of possible interesting AVX-related stories to tell and are simply biding their time until the series is over and they can go back to their regular stories in the new status quo. X-MEN LEGACY and NEW AVENGERS have been the worst examples of this for their last three issues.

Oh yeah, and Professor X was ritually sacrificed to the Gods of Big Media.

Here are last week's ten best books, give them a try when you head to your retailer toda:

9. CHEW #28
10. BATMAN #0

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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