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This week (10 October 2012), Batman #13 begins a new saga with the Joker, we get not one but two immediate spin-offs from Avengers Vs. X-Men as Marvel NOW! launches with AvX: Consequences #1 and the highly publicised Uncanny Avengers #1. Image tricks and treats us early with the oversized holiday one-shot Halloween Eve, and robots versus vampires in Transfusion! Plus a bunch of other titles that have grabbed our attention this week.
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If you are going to take on the Phoenix Force and blow up cities, there will be consequences. This series is something of an anomaly, being a direct continuation of the events of Avengers Vs. X-Men, but also serving as a supplement to this week’s Uncanny Avengers (see below). It’s a solid opening, and it touches on those elements you’d actually want to see: Wakanda’s devastation and newfound hatred of mutants, Cyclops becoming “just another prisoner” thanks to a new mutant control technique, Hope finding meaning in her life, especially good scenes between Captain America and Wolverine working things out and the hunt for the remaining mutant fugitives. It also sets up the broader implications of a sudden resurgence in the mutant population. Should be a great mini-series, but it could have also served as a backup story in the pages Uncanny Avengers.
Bits Rating: ★★★½
Snyder and Tynion already have our vote for the best crossover event of the year, and this is one of the few instances where we welcome another crossover almost immediately following. After a brief and excellent character piece in #12 (See: review), and the origins of #0 notwithstanding, the dynamic writing duo bring us into the next big Bat-event of 2012 with the return of The Joker. The wider arc, which will mostly run through the #14s and #15s of the Batman titles, is called “Death of the Family”, and the implication is that it will be taken up a notch from the infamous Batman: A Death in the Family arc of 1988-1989. With the Joker absent from the Newish 52 since the debut of Detective Comics #1 in September last year, the body count could definitely pile up with an even more sinister Joker making an appearance here. Some of the best moments come in the conversations between Batman and Jim Gordon, both admitting to an unshakable fear that they can’t allow their comrades to see. Weaving in elements see in Suicide Squad‘s Harley Quinn, Capullo’s art continues to be one of the book’s other strong points, here conveying the bloody mayhem of Joker without actually showing him very much. A good thing too, as he seems to be running around with his face strapped on with a belt. If you could judge a book by its cover, then the latest issue is the best book ever if the gatefold Joker mask cover is anything to go by. Pick this up just because it reeks of cool.
Bits Rating: ★★★★½ - PICK OF THE WEEK
Halloween Eve #1 – Image Comics, Brandon Montclare (writer), Amy Reeder (artist)
We really should have more comics like this one. Just a simple one-shot that tells an equally simple tale of finding oneself on the eve of All Hallow’s while working in a costume shop. Image Comics have proven all year that they are willing to take a chance on new properties and concepts, be it through mini-series or great successes in Saga and Fatale. Riding on the cache of and Batwoman, Reeder’s art and Kickstarter campaign may have got this book off the ground, but it’s the kind of evergreen story that tends to find its way into comic stores seasonally. Monclare’s (Fear Itself: Fearsome Four) lightweight The Wizard of Oz inspired story is a delight, with the feisty character of Eve a bit of echidna: prickly on the outside, but adorable once you get to know her. Her magical transformation border on rom-com territory, but it’s a welcome reprieve from capes and sagas, especially for those who don’t feel as though they’re ready to submit to Archie just yet. At the $3.99 (US) price point, it’s a really high-quality glossy 36+ page affair that comes complete with sketches and other commentary. Worth a look.
Bits Rating: ★★★½
Last month, DC dropped The Phantom Stranger #0 alongside several other titles that effectively form the Third Wave of the New 52 in just over 12 months. After the contrived origin story in the zero issue, following on from his Judas Iscariot introduction in the New 52 FCBD book, Didio gets stuck into the meat of his recipe this time out, and it is far more satisfying. One of the central issues that Didio will have to face over the coming months is the fact that the titular Stranger is a bit of a dick. He’s cold and emotionless, dragging the runaway daughter of the demon Trigon back to his waiting arms because it’s supposed to be good for her. Yet Didio also shows early promise by using this preconception to his advantage, and pulling the rug out from under us in the final pages with a shocking reveal. The character is a hard sell, certainly due to the heavy religious connotations of The Voice and the instructions from above, but the promise of more information about Pandora (the mysterious woman in red) might mean that this is one of those books we just have to read to find out what is behind this whole Newish 52 shockwave. Anderson’s artwork is bang-on too, distinguishing itself with its atmospheric realism. We’ll check back next month, which we guess is the ultimate test.
Bits Rating: ★★★
Point of Impact #1 (of 4) – Image Comics, Jay Faerber (writer), Koray Kuranel (artist)
Jay Faerber has been in the comics industry since the late 1990s, working with at least every major publisher along the way, and with this Image Comics mini-series he aims to make a name for himself in the crime world. Reminiscent of the early work of Brian Michael Bendis, a style that has seen a resurgence in books like Andy Diggle’s Rat Catcher, it’s a beautiful black and white saga that also happens to be a very twisty mystery. It begins with the apparent suicide of a woman, but it soon looks like murder. Faerber then follows the three interconnecting lives of people who have been immediately impacted by her death: her husband, an investigative reporter; her lover, an ex-soldier; and her friend, a homicide detective. In this first issue alone, each of them have uncovered some major events, and we suspect it isn’t over yet. With three issues to go, how will this ever wrap up in time? Kuranel’s stark art is perfect for the story, something that Faerber lets shine with a minimal intrusion from speech bubbles or dialogue boxes.
Bits Rating: ★★★★
Transfusion #1 – IDW, Steve Niles (writer), Menton3 (artist)
Vampires versus robots. They’ve finally done it. Found the one of the few places vampires had yet to travel and exploited it. The nice thing is that it’s actually pretty good. Coming from Steve Niles (30 Days of Night), it is a relentlessly bleak vision of a future where robots that run on human blood have taken over, and so do the vampires that run amok. There are no frills to this story, and for the moment, it seems like it will be a straightforward survival story. What distinguishes the book is the artwork from menton3, a minimalist and nightmarish vision of the future that finds a depth of colour within its greys, browns, blacks and naturally, some splashes of red. It’s a chilling spectacle to behold, and once again there is a solid foundation being built here. There isn’t quite the depth of world-building that we would like to see at this early stage, but this looks like one that will reward patience. We’ll get back to you this time next month.
Bits Rating: ★★★
The massive flagship of the Marvel NOW! campaign, launching the latest era of Avengers and X-Men goodness. Perhaps the whole campaign was an excuse to put Wolverine in another book, but this is as strong an opening as Justice League was for the Newish 52. As we’ve said, it’s a companion to AvX: Consequences, but it’s more about team-building. Following the funeral of Charles Xavier (how many is that now?), Captain American attempts to recruit Alex Summers into The Avengers, while Rogue and Wanda have a catfight for much of the rest of the issue. This all leads to a pretty major villain reveal in the final page. It’s a terrific start, and exactly the sort of book that Marvel needs to sell this renumbering/re-evolution as something more than a marketing gimmick. The A-List team of Remender and Cassaday bring their A-game here, instantly making this a must-read for the foreseeable future. There are several variant covers for this too, and our hands-down favourite is Skottie Young‘s ‘Baby’ cover. She’s the queen of Marvel kawaii.
Bits Rating: ★★★★