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Review – Uncanny X-Men #18 (AVX)

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Ron Garney
Colors: Jason Keith & Morry Hollowell
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Ron Garney & Matt Milla
Published by: Marvel Comics

Heads up, if you haven’t read AVX #11 this is going to be a massive spoiler situation. That said, I warned you guys.

Kate Kiloare of Superhuman P.R. fame stands alone, everything shattered, broken and wrecked. Standing at the highest point of the escalation and doing damage control to the human population to explain the insane situations revolving around the Earth and Utopia she now looks at shattered remains. This really helps setup where this has all been going, promise of a new life, a new world, peace and prosperity and yet all that’s really here is war and hell and a massive floating island that looks majestic.

You can’t spin a positive twist on the Phoenix losing its last restraints and going supernova. Try as one might this is heavy. We see final encounters between the Phoenix Duo and key mutants but given the control imbalance there’s going to be a lot of resistance no matter who talks to them. We also see some fallout with Colossus and Magik, unfortunately for Colossus his desire to protect and save Magik has bitten him in the rear. This whole arc with Cyttorak explodes in his face and she reveals her being condemned in the past was likely one of those moves that shouldn’t have been turned over. Unfortunately with no one around and all eyes on the Phoenix she’s unchecked for now.

The madness continues back to AVX #11 influenced panels and we have a look inside the elegance of chaos, the two Phoenix force combatants locked in their own minds as they slug it out and blast their way through a united front. The tension growing, the frustrations developing and then… it comes.

For those hoping to see a really solid side issue to compliment the ongoing AVX story, Uncanny X-Men 18 is a solid bet. It details the attempts for a resolution, the inner thinking before the final tide changes and how Colossus just got screwed out of his mind. Hat’s off to Gillen and Garney for that intense moment, it was probably one of the biggest punches in the issue.

Release date: September 12, 2012

Story:★★★½☆ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★½☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 
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Review – Avengers vs X-Men #11 (AVX)

Story: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman
Script: Brian Bendis
Pencils: Oliver Coipel
Inks: Mark Morales
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Art: Jim Cheung & Justin Ponsor
Variant Cover: Sara Pichelli & Justin Ponsor
Published by: Marvel Comics

We’re back and I don’t even know where to start, after a 4 week break Marvel comes back with AVX #11 and it’s massive. The force is down to just two hosts and the battle is on to try to tame and control the Phoenix. Unfortunately this is coming toward the end of the series and all the stops have to come out, we have X-Men and Avengers reaching out not just to those hurt but to everyone that ever wanted to protect the planet.

The battle from that point reaches critical mass in a hurry, Scott and Emma are on the verge of insanity as the Phoenix force penetrates their minds and drives their darkest wishes to the surface, tempting fate and the future of the world with every moment. It’s not a good time for visitors when stuff like that goes down and yet Xavier manages to call him out for a chat, unfortunately by chat he meant WWIII for the fate of the universe.

It’s an interesting issue, I love the Avengers speech in the first few pages because it feels like a moment where they’ve come to face reality beyond this is for America or humans or whatever. It’s all or nothing and nothing is looking pretty buffed out right about now, they need all the power and hands they can get on this ship and it’s not going to be an easy ride at all. The Avengers are assembled and the X-Men are finally back as a squad again and they’ve put this lucid dream of a world Utopia to rest in favor of living to see tomorrow.

Xavier is charged beyond belief and so are the others, it’s a showdown that will change everything in their world and as we all know, sacrifices have to be made when the Phoenix is around. The only question is, will they be able to live with what happens if this all manages to cool off, given the extremes I really don’t see this just being a slap on the wrist and a hug to make it all better. Expect serious mental trauma when the story closes up soon.

Release date: September 12, 2012

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 
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Review – Batman #0 (New 52)

Writer: Scott Snyder
Pencils: Greg Capullo
Inks: Jonathan Galpon
Colors: FCO Plascencia
Letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Greg Capullo & FCO Plascencia
Variant Cover: Andy Clarke & FCO Plascencia
Published by: DC Comics

Leaping back in time from issue #12 we have issue #0 of Batman. Will the origins of Bruce be told? Will we relive his past training and frustrations? No. Not really, this is a comic book after all and not a massive graphic novel where they have that kind of page allowance. We see a young Bruce return to the streets where his life was changed forever.

Instead of a dark emotional tale of flashbacks we get something different, a young rich man in the slums working to infiltrate and break down the infestation that haunts it. He is Bruce Wayne and he’s not exactly prepared for the utter mess he’s about to unleash, he gets shot at, punched around chased and he fumbles  like a newbie. But the important part is, he’s the newbie the city needs and he has the determination and massive fists of cash to make this work.

Issue 0 is a bit embarrassing for Bruce but it’s a genuine tale and honestly it helps place some history in this new beginning for Batman. We see classic figures like Gordon and we see the roots of the Bat family start to plant themselves throughout Gotham without feeling like a forced story of the group. He’s daring and eager and attempting to push himself to be as above the cut as possible so no one gets the drop on him, he’s not exactly Batman yet but he’s sure working to get there fast.

For those who thought 12 was too much of a deviation, 0 makes up for that greatly and it doesn’t just leap back into the Owl’s to put in quick story. It’s a human look at a man who wants to change things and will stop at nothing to do it.

Release date: September 12, 2012

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 
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Review – Orchid #9

Script: Tom Morello
Art: Scott Hepburn
Colors: Dan Jackson
Letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover: Massimo Carnevale
Published By: Dark Horse

Orchid, who has found strength through herself and strength through General China’s mask has rallied the poor and downtrodden to form an angry, badass army who refuses to sit idly by and allow evil dictator Tomo Wolfe to continue his calculated and inhumane exploitation of them. As the battle of all battles is about to take place, Wolfe is in search of Barrabas, who unbeknownst to Wolfe, witnessed the death of an animal by Wolfe’s command. This was the one and only stipulation that Barrabas had when he agreed to work by Wolfe’s side and I can’t wait for the fallout from Wolfe’s misstep. Meanwhile, Orchid and her (ever-growing) band of misfits get the jump on the first wave of Wolfe’s genocide army proving that a surprise attack was nothing the mindless minions were ready for. An extra treat in this issue comes in the form of the mask’s back story. We learn how it came to be, why it’s so powerful and why only certain people can wear it without being torn apart! Will Orchid and her crew make it to Wolfe and unleash justice upon him or will the bridge people be obliterated before they are able to do anything?

Wow! The story of the mask, freedom fighters, a bunch of wrongs being righted, the poor uniting and fighting back, what doesn’t Orchid have? This issue does a great job building up the tension of the upcoming war and rousing anticipation for the little guy. We also get to see a bunch of the mutated animals drawn with perfection by Scott Hepburn. The awesome feeling of unification and hope this issue arouses is astounding. Yet again, Tom Morello’s writing is on point and just simply amazing. Like every other issue in this series, this one is perfection. It is a great addition to the continuing story and I am SO excited to see what happens next!

Release Date: September 12th, 2012

Links: Order | Preview

Story:★★★★★ 
Art:★★★★★ 
Dialog:★★★★★ 
Overall:★★★★★ 
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Review – Gambit #2

Writer: James Asmus
Pencils: Clay Mann
Inks: Seth Mann
Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover by: Mann & Rosenberg
Published by: Marvel Comics

Gambit has stirred a hornets nest, the nest belonging to the money man Borya Cich who has his hands in numerous super villain attacks and plots. Using his current job at the Jean Grey School to sneak into the gala and play around in the riches and depot hidden away he quickly finds himself knee-deep in the heat. Thanks to a quick save from someone enamored with his charm he’s able to break away but the he stays on him. Did I mention he also managed to activate an ancient relic that buried itself in him? Yeah he managed to do that as well.

Gambit #2 “Can’t shake you loose” continues right from the path, he’s trying to figure out what this thing is and how to get rid of it and any option feels like a good start to him. Unfortunately, all roads really do lead to Cich so his future is going get an extra dash of difficulty trying to track down the origins and how to get rid of it before it gets rid of him. The issue is filled with snooping and thievery and Remy running into a familiar face in one of the most inconvenient times possible. Sounds like a wonderful trek right?

Gambit brings his passion for pretty things, messing with the bad guys and swooning the women to the table. It’s entertaining and action packed while retaining elements we’re used to seeing in current X-Men franchises right now. For X-Men fans hoping to see Gambit knee-deep in only trouble he can find, the series is gearing up to deliver on that expectation. Hang in for a few more issues and I think we’ll see some intense moments for our Cajun.

Story:★★★½☆ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 
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Review – Star Wars – Lost Tribe of the Sith: Spiral #2 of 5

Script: John Jackson Miller
Pencils: Andrea Mutti
Inks: Pierluigi Baldassini
Colors: Michael Atiyeh
Letters: Michael Heisler
Cover Art: Paul Renaud
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

The adventures on Kesh continue with Spinner and Takara, the duo are left fighting for a way off the south pole only to stumble into powerful company. Given the numbers and toll taken on them from being in the sub-zero climate it’s fair to say they weren’t going to put up much of a battle.

Issue 2 takes off as they move into the home of their captors, finding rich diversity within and a strong sense of the force to go with it. With so many neutral members occupying the city it’s puzzling to both of the new visitors on why this is. Unfortunately, it only takes a few scuffles to draw down the real force and get the story moving. New information is brought forward about the Sith on the planet and so much of the folklore that has been written to this point.

Ultimate weapons, rituals and betrayal are all on the table and Spinner gives readers a chance to see behind his usual troublemaker ways into something much more defining and dangerous. For me I went from not a fan to wanting to slap him around for being ignorant but that’s just me. Miller does a great job developing character traits, I hate being in the middle on characters and the latest issue swept me right into a single decision. The back story on the world and battles that took place and the current state of affairs does help give greater understanding of the situation that culture faces and why they have focused on being in such a harsh climate. The little ends and pieces are all there to help channel where this is all going to wind up while also using a massive cliffhanger to torture people.

Lost Tribe of the Sith: Spiral #2 is a solid read and a fast one at that, Spinner and Takara really draw a line in the sand in this issue and all hell manages to break out during the process. Let’s just hope our warden can get her prisoner and his latest blunder under control before it’s too late.

Release date: September 12, 2012

Links: Pre-Order | Preview (Coming Soon)

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★½ 
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Review – Uncanny X-Men #17 (AVX)

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artists: Daniel Acuna & Mike Del Mundo
Art Assist: Diego Olmos
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Mike Del Mundo
Published by: Marvel Comics

The Phoenix attack resumes against Sinister to stop any plans of his against Hope for his own personal gains.   The group faces incredible odds but the cavalry is riding in to lend a hand in this difficult time for the X-Men, even in their darkest hour full of the most power they’re still a team and need each other to make it through.

The biggest thing that sticks out in this issue is the art, that’s not really a compliment at all as it ages the X-Men in ways I never knew to the point where they look disfigured. It’s certainly not pleasing during the read and it actually pulls away from the experience of the story, while I’m all for experimentation in style and format I can’t say this was the right choice to play.

In story we see Gillen wrapping this story up with a bang, not only is there a conflict between Sinister and the X-Men but we see Unit take a deeper interest as well. Groups battled valiantly against the clones and we see allies colliding as they stage a front against the Phoenix powered clones awaiting them. It certainly gets ugly but the story twists manage to avoid jumping the shark.

As a whole, Uncanny X-Men 17 manages to deliver a solid story arc and additional depth into the X-Men side of this conflict as they gain Phoenix power. Unfortunately the art wrapping up issue 17 is some of the hardest I’ve had to swallow since reviewing Marvel comics. Some things to note, Magneto doesn’t have a Halloween costume helmet made of cloth or vinyl and Psylocke isn’t horribly old or deformed. Also we notice when unrefined illustrations are pushed as final products. One can only hope this trend doesn’t continue forward as it doesn’t benefit this issue in the slightest. There are panels that have a sharp contrast and one can only assume the other team members on the art side had influence there.

Release date: August 22, 2012

Story:★★★½☆ 
Art:★☆☆☆☆ 
Dialog:★★★☆☆ 
Overall:★★½☆☆ 
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Review – America’s Got Powers #3 of 6

Script: Jonathan Ross & Bryan Hitch
Story: Jonathan Ross & Bryan Hitch
Art:  Jonathan Ross & Bryan Hitch
Inks: Paul Neary & Jason Paz
Colors: Paul Mounts
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Jeff Mariotte
Published by: Image Comics

Issue 3 of America’s Got Powers is here and we’re fresh off a confrontation between Tommy and his Mom about his role in the games. The fate of his brother Bobby has changed and the stakes just a whole lot higher, unfortunately there’s so many other things going on in this story that issue 3 puts that to the immediate side. Instead we focus on the facility and the endless dirty secrets within, one of which will prove to be one of the most cruel and abusive secrets so far.

The series has been a bit everywhere to help explain background, political interests, personal stories and the mystery of the crystal, for those hoping to hit some stability I’m sorry to say you wont find it. The layers just keep coming and the mystery behind Tommy / Zero is only getting deeper, what power does he hold and why do they so desperately want to find out what it is in the arena. We found out some of those details and honestly they’re really upsetting to say the least, what was a supernatural miracle has turned into dark experimentation.

Ross and Hitch have put together a solid issue, so much so that it’s hard to speak very much on it without spoiling the issue heavily. One has to just know the powers released in this world aren’t contained to any limited group and this gift to the world is only just starting. The only thing to figure out is which side will all of these power users end up on as the larger scope reveals itself, also will there be any real conclusion with only 3 issues left to pass through? The questions keep coming at this point and it’s worrying to think of how this will possibly even wrap up right now.

Release date: August 22, 2012

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 
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Review – Star Wars – Darth Maul: Death Sentence #2 of 4

Script: Tom Taylor
Art: Bruno Redondo
Colors: Michael Atiyeh
Letters: Michael Heisler
Cover Art: Dave Dorman
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

Ja’Boag places a bounty on Savage Opress and Darth Maul as they hide in the darkness, the result was rougher than he could have anticipated as the hunters took a heavy beating and Darth Maul decided to take the fight directly to the mining company owner. The reasoning behind Ja’Boag’s decision is still in the air but it’s clear he didn’t anticipate the mass destruction that both of these bring into his mine.

Issue 2 takes off with the Jedi arriving just in time to save him from a toasty funeral, the mine has been damaged extensively and Darth Maul and Savage Opress are just getting started on the small army that Ja’Boag attempted to recruit to save him. To say things get ugly is an understatement, fire and fury pour while locals watch from a distance to see retribution striking down at Ja’Boag’s greed.

Back inside, It doesn’t take long for the Jedi to jump into the fray as soldiers start turning into voodoo dolls and losing heads. Honestly, if you thought Star Wars couldn’t get violent, you really need to check these issues out as Darth Maul takes the shock value to the next level with his rage streak. The violence breaks when things get tense and we see a new layer of development begin within the story as the locals come into the picture and expand upon the importance of the Suns and this planet.

With that we have to wait until issue 3 to find out what twist will come next. The thing I tend to hate about these stories is the shortness, I understand they’re under a crunch but we’re 50% done with this story arc and it’s frankly turning into something magical, the Jedi just arrived on the scene and the first confrontation  wrapped and here we are with only 2 issues for it all to close up. Taylor and Redondo continue to nail the movement of the story although I do have to commend Redondo for making some of those fatal attacks so subtle in the pace of each panel. Really, Savage and Maul are brutal people but I’m looking forward to how this continues to develop.

Release Date: August 28, 2012

Links: Pre-Order | Preview

Story:★★★★½ 
Art:★★★★★ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★½ 
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Review – Axe Cop #2 President Of The World

Story: Malachai Nicolle
Pencils, Ink, and Lettering: Ethan Nicolle
Colors: Dirk Erik Schulz
Published By: Dark Horse

The last time we saw Axe Cop he had Goo Cop (a man made of goo) and Junior Cobb (a bow tie wearing gorilla) by his side fighting off all the bad guys. This issue begins with us meeting two bad robot brothers, Bu and Tu, from another planet. These guys are looking for trouble and won’t stop until they find it. Back on Earth, Axe Cop and his crew have their hands full as they meet the new super weird mash-up bad guy, Chee-Rex. I’ll let you use your imagination with this one! After some mouth springs, giant punches and transforming robots, Axe Cop and his friends save someone who could arguably be their biggest save yet; but, it doesn’t end there, oh no, theirs plenty more action. The evil robots devise a plan to make Earth’s citizens believe that Axe Cop is evil while also traveling through the universe destroying planets and picking up allies along the way to complete their evil plan of becoming the worst bad guys EVER! Axe Cop, refusing to sit back and let the robots win, devises a plan to figure out the robots plan and it’s a doozy. The universe is in peril and it looks like it’s only going to get worse!

Robots, the Devil, golden mustaches, there is nothing this issue doesn’t have. Seriously, it’s all in here and it shouldn’t be so entertaining but dammit it is! The next and final installment of “President Of The World” looks to be crazy and Axe Cop and his friends are going to have their hands full. This comic has so much charm and humor it’s unbelievable. Everything in this issue works, the writing is always funny and the art is really great, so much so that you can actually follow the story even if there weren’t any dialog, that’s pretty impressive. This is a must read and can really be enjoyed by anyone of any age. Don’t miss on Axe Cop, in a word its brilliant!

Release Date: August 29th, 2012

Links: Pre-Order | Preview (coming soon)

Story:★★★★½ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

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