Thursday, August 5, 2010

New Comic Cavalcade: Avengers, Thor and More

Welcome back to another installment of New Comic Cavalcade, where we here at The Vault read new comics so that you don't have to. Now, as you no doubt know, it's been a little while since last time we provided this invaluable service, so as you might expect, a large pile of new comics has been accruing, mostly due to the fact that Marvel is currently printing about 1700 Avengers titles.

In order to work our way through this slush pile, then, we're going to forgo the usual, incredibly in-depth review in favor of something a little different: concise and precise two sentence reviews. Don't worry, we'll still be providing our grades as usual along with the insight that you've become accustomed -- and addicted -- to. It will just be, you know, a lot shorter.

So why are we screwing around? Let's read some comics.

Avengers #3 (Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr.): Better than the last issue anyway, but while this was reasonably enjoyable, when it was done I still felt like nothing had actually happened. That's because nothing actually happened other than one large fight scene, but I'll stick it out to the end of this first arc anyway. My Grade: B-.

Secret Avengers #3 (Ed Brubaker and Mike Deodato): Like Avengers, this was also a step up from the last issue, though it was a bit clunky in places (I'm looking at you, random robot guy). Unile Avengers, this is written by Brubaker and not Bendis so I'm willing to give it more of a chance; that's just how it works when you've earned the reader's trust. My Grade: B.

Hawkeye & Mockingbird #3 (Jim McCann and David Lopez): I'm still not sure why they brought Mockingbird back, so I'm having some trouble getting into this arc in general. The ending was kind of goofy for my money, but on the other hand, considering the basic premise of the series, overall I think they're doing pretty well. My Grade: B.

Avengers Prime #2 (Brian Michael Bendis and Alan Davis): Shaping up to be the best Avengers story Bendis has written, though there were still some odd moments here and there (such as the fact that the whole Hela-based premise doesn't seem to match up in any way at all with what is happening in Thor). Steve's sudden romance with a random elven woman was... random... and a little out of character considering he's in a committed relationship, yet I still found it kind of interesting. My Grade: A-.

Avengers: The Children's Crusade #1 (Alan Heinberg and Jim Cheung): Yes, there's yet another new Avengers title, this one featuring the Young Avengers in a story where they supposedly track down the Scarlet Witch to find out the truth of Wiccan's parentage. Given Heinberg's track record, I have high hopes that this will end up being better than the Young Avengers stuff since he left their original title, and the cliffhanger with Magneto showing up is a good sign. My Grade: B+.

Steve Rogers: Super Soldier #1 (Ed Brubaker and Dale Eaglesham): brubaker spotlights Steve Rogers in this four issue series that adds yet more backstory to Steve's already crowded origin. I'm not sold on the art but the premise has at least some promise, so we'll see. My Grade: B-.

Captain America #608 (Ed Brubaker and Bruce Guice): Now this is more like it: not only does Brubaker really start to apply the screws to Bucky, he's doing it by re-establishing Baron Zemo as an A-level badass. The leak to the media revealing Bucky's identity as the new Captain America and his role as the Winter Soldier was a surprise that should really shake up what we thought the status-quo was going to be on this book. My Grade: A+.

Thor #612 (Kieron Gillen and Doug Braithwaite): As I mentioned this Hela-centric fantasy/horror hybrid tale is kind of interesting but seems to clash completely with the version of Hela in Avengers Prime. Well, whatever I guess; I kind of prefer this take on Thor to the JMS version because things are actually happening, even if it took half a year's worth of disjointed Siege tie-ins to get to this point. My Grade: B-.

The Rage of Thor #1 (Peter Milligan and Mico Suayan): Marvel continues it's new tradition of pumping out Thor one-shots, though for once this doesn't seem designed to plug a scheduling hole caused by slow-ass creators. And as usual, it's actually a lot better than the main title itself, which makes me wonder why they don't just publish these good stories as regular Thor issues. My Grade: A.

Astro City Special: Silver Agent #1 (Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson): After a decade plus of wondering, fans are finally being treated to the story of Silver Agent and what exactly happened to him. It's solid as always but does feel a little bit like a (necessary) clearing of the plate in order to get to the new, fresh stuff when the monthly Astro City finally re-launches. My Grade: B+.

RASL #8 (Jeff Smith): Things are starting to make some sense, at least they were until Smith drops a potential game-changing revelation on the last page. I've learned to trust Smith over the years, but I'm worried, because this twist has the potential to be really, really stupid and possibly undo the whole series if not handled just right. My Grade: Incomplete.

Well, look at that: nothing worse than a B-! Either this was an unusually solid group of comics or else I'm still swooning from hearing Samuel L. Jackson read the Avengers intro. But not a terrible batch anyway.

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