Comics Shotglass Reviews for 7/8/2015

Comics Shotglass Reviews for 7/8/2015

Mike gives you a quick glimpse and hot take on this week's comics.

Hey folks, Mike here. You are going to be seeing a slight editorial shift in the near future. As a part of that shift, the short and sweet comic reviews I do on Twitter and other forums will be posted here instead! It's not an "everyone" or "site wide" thing, but I've been given permission to bring my love of comics to you each week.

Now, I'm not rating these comics and I will be avoiding deep story spoilers, but I will be dropping interesting panels for each of the books I'm talking about. This is about sharing what I'm reading with you folks. In every title, there's a link to the Comixology page of that book, if you want to pick it up. Maybe something will catch your eye. Maybe you'll offer up your own reading lists for the week. Maybe I'll pick up a few more books. It's all good. This will be a weekly place where we can share our love for comics. (The title is not final. it's just the first thing I could think of.)

Archie #1

Written by Mark Waid
Art by Fiona Staples, Andre Szymanowicz, Jen Vaughn

I... What? This is the first issue of a rebooted Archie series and it's really good. This is the Archie characters delivered to you in Saved by the Bell style, with Archie doing his best Zack Morris. He's our point-of-view character, who frequently stops time and breaks the fourth wall to explain things. I'm really digging the smarter, tsundere Jughead, too. Fiona Staples brings a faux manga style to the entire thing that makes this feel like a Japanese romance series. If you like shoujo manga, you might find something cool here.

I picked this one up on a whim. Glad I did. Loved it. Great stuff.

Secret Wars: Civil War #1

Written by Charles Soule
Art by Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Sunny Gho

Civil War is based on the 2006 Marvel crossover of the same name, which is in turn inspiring the upcoming film, Captain America: Civil War. The original mini-series involved a ideological difference between Iron Man and Captain America. Iron Man wanted all heroes to be registered with the government, becoming officers of the law, while Cap felt that heroes had a right to their privacy.

This mini carries on from one of the latter bullet points of the original crossover, where Cap's anti-registration side attacks Iron Man's Negative Zone prison for dissenters. In the original, both sides fought and the battle spilled into New York, where Cap ultimately surrendered. In this new timeline, some unknown third-party blew up the prison, killing those on both sides and destroying most of New York. Iron Man and Captain America both believe that the other side caused the disaster.

Years later, Iron Man rules the Iron, a side where all of those with powers are catalogued and trained. In contrast, Cap leads the Blue, a free-for-all society with only two rules: do no harm and help when you can. Yeah, Captain America is in charge of Western Redditland.

This is a set-up issue. We have the basic conflict, we have the major players, and now we have to see how it'll all go wrong. That's the larger theme at play in all of the Secret Wars books, that none of these realities were meant to live in this limited equilibrium and they're beginning to chafe against the restraints. We have our inciting incident here, but there's a larger mystery that Soule has yet to get into. Yu and crew also deliver some great art that puts this right alongside the original book.

Secret Wars: Secret Wars 2099 #3

Written by Peter David
Art by Will Sliney, Antonio Fabela

Peter David's corporate, uptown Avengers meet the downtown Defenders, comprised of the Silver Surfer, a new Dr. Strange, Hulk 2099, Sub-Mariner 2009, and Valkyrie. Issue #3 is all interpersonal hijinks, mostly between Hercules and the Sub-Mariner. It does set-up the conflict in the next issue, but it feels like David is writing a longer book here. David's Spider-Man 2099 flowed into this book somewhat and it's likely some of these threads will continue in the new Spider-Man 2099 series post-Secret Wars.

Secret Wars: Age of Apocalypse #1

Written by Fabian Nicieza
Art by Gerardo Sandoval, David Curiel

Like most of the Secret Wars' #1 issues, this is mostly establishing a specific section of Battleworld. This world is based on 1995's alternate reality X-Men crossover. The magic of the original was seeing all your favorites in new roles, plus some great art by Joe Madureira, Roger Cruz, Chris Bachalo, and others. This mini leans hard on Gerardo Sandoval, who I've mentally compared to Mad for a while now. He's got some great art, even if there's a few issues here and there (Dazzler, where is your waist?).

I wasn't happy about the high bodycount, but this is all about making our living MacGuffin, the mutant Cypher, feel more important. Letterer Clayton Cowles does some visually interesting stuff with Cypher's powers, but I didn't walk away from this issue thinking it was great. If you liked Age of Apocalypse, it's at definitely worth a try at least.

Batman #42

Written by Scott Synder
Art by Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, and Fco Plascencia

The new Batman begins to feel out his place in Gotham. If he's not the same Batman Bruce Wayne was, who is he? The Robo-Bat design still isn't growing on me, but overall I'm really enjoying the tone and premise Synder has created here. Of course, I'm not a huge fan of the basic Bruce Wayne/Batman status quo, so I'm into large changes like this and Dick Grayson's tenure as Batman.

Also, new villains! Another writer would write a story about the new Batman dealing with the old Batman's villains. Synder takes another route and begins setting up a new Rogues Gallery for a new Batman. As long as Mr. Bloom doesn't turn out to be and old Batman foe, I'm down.

And that last page! Woo!

Batman-Superman #22

Written by Greg Pak
Art by Ardian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes, Dean White, Beth Sotelo, Blond

Superman's secret identity is out, his powers are gone, and there's a new Batman. What happens to the World's Finest team now? This is story about trust and consequences. The new Batman is a cop, and Superman still thinks like a hero, despite his weakened powers. A cop holds back from making the larger, world-changing decisions that superheroes do, and Superman no longer has the power to back up his convictions. I'm sure it'll all work out - the title is Batman-Superman - but it's interesting to see both heroes feeling each other out.

Secret Wars: Master of Kung-Fu #3

Written by Haden Blackman
Art by Dalibor Talajic, Goran Sudzuka, Miroslav Mrva

I'm still getting a kick out of this re-imagining of the Marvel Universe though the lens of a classic Kung-Fu film. Seeing martial arts versions of classic heroes and villains is great. My only real issue with this mini is a lack of breathing room. There's 10 or so fights happening over the course of two double page spreads. I'd love it if the book had more room to explore each of those fights on their own. Enjoying this mini, but it deserves more space.

Star Wars: Lando #1

Written by Charles Soule
Art by Alex Maleev, Paul Mounts

The best part of Marvel's Star Wars comics are the excellent creative teams. Soule is a great writer if given free reign and Maleev and Mounts offer up some great art here. This is the set up for a heist tale, which fits Lando as he's more of a lover than a fighter. Lando was a big character for me as a kid, so it's cool to see him with a writer that gets what he's about over the course of a few pages. And like any great heist story, Lando and team get themselves into horrible trouble over an easy score.

Secret Wars: Amazing Spider-Man, Renew Your Vows #2

Written by Dan Slott
Art by Adam Kubert, John Dell, Justin Ponsor

I was not jazzed by Renew Your Vows #1, which showed a Spider-Man who stayed with Mary Jane and had a family. A number of people are all about the marriage, but while I disliked the way Marvel nullified it in One More Day, its overall loss doesn't really hit me. Renew Your Vows #1 showed a Spider-Man that turned his back on his greatest lesson for his family. That makes perfect sense, but it's just not Spider-Man to me. The choices he made in the previous issue weren't heroic.

Issue #2 is in the same tone, but there are moments when the real Spider-Man comes out to play. This feels like it'll be a story about Peter being true to his power and responsibility, while still doing right by his family. If that's the overall direction, Renew Your Vows and I will be friends.

Starfire #2

Written by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Emanuela Lupacchino, Ray McCarthy, Hi-Fi

Starfire's original New 52 incarnation was not my cup of tea. This new version, which is still recognizable as that older character, is a lot more fun. She has a innate joy, kindness, and heroism that really works; she's somewhere in-between her new 52 and Teen Titans cartoon incarnations.

My issue with Starfire #1 and #2 is this feels like a mini-series so far, not an ongoing. I like it, but the premise is, "Starfire is an alien who doesn't understand humans, humor ensues." The book needs a stronger hook than that. I'll keep reading, because I trust Conner and Palmiotti, but I hope it finds that hook sooner rather than later.

I am missing a few books in this roundup, notably Strange Fruit, JLA, Saga, and Earth 2: Society. If there's anything else you think I should check out, let me know!

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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