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This week (3 October 2012), a saga comes to a close in Avengers Vs. X-Men #12, but not before opening the door to another one. Marvel kills off Daredevil in Daredevil: End of Days #1, and DC should probably do the same in Green Arrow #13. Amy and Rory live again in Doctor Who #1 from Andy Diggle, Image brings our toys to life in Non-Humans #1 and Minimum Carnage: Alpha #1 recreates the ’90s!
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So at last it comes to an end, and like Avengers: X-Sanction before it, this was simply a setup for the Uncanny Avengers relaunch and another series in Avengers vs X-Men: Consequences. As was destined from the beginning, this comes down to a big fight between Dark Cyclops and the combined forces of the X-Men and the Avengers. So Avengers/X-Men versus X-Man really. Out of nowhere, the deus ex machina of a Wanda/Hope team-up becomes their only chance for success. Really? Much of it has been dropped in hints before, and Hope finally becoming Phoenix has been signalled for the last year really. Yet the fact that the Phoenix is taken down in a half an issue, when it took the sacrifice of Jean Grey last time around, is a bit of a let down in the grand scheme of things. It’s been a long series of highs and lows, and realistically could have been half as long. That’s not to say it doesn’t have some amazing action moments, including the sudden appearance of the new Nova for a brief save. Even this is forced, as if someone remembered that he turned up in Issue #1, but was subsequently forgotten. What is ultimately disappointing is that this is the kind of stunt event that really only sets up the Marvel NOW! reboot/relaunching/re-evolution/refresh/redux, with the consequences being a group of mutants on the ‘most wanted list’, even though that were seemingly captured or actually aided them in the final fight. It dismisses the power of the Phoenix Force as just another monster of the week, and that undermines all the hard work of writers gone by. Indeed, the last few pages are all about plugging future titles, Wanda even commenting to Hawkeye that Cap’s new Avengers team is “something a bit more…uncanny”. As a single issue, it’s a great grudge-match, but it leaves far too many loose ends to satisfactorily wrap up the series.
Bits Rating: ★★½
Daredevil is dead. At least, that’s where a dream team of past DD creators begin their tale. In the tradition of The Dark Knight Returns, and of course Marvel’s own series of ‘The End’ books, Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack start with the final fight between Matt Murdoch and one of his greatest adversaries, Bullseye, and go backwards from there, taking reporter Ben Urich on a journey through Daredevil’s past, present and future. It’s a dark tale, not just because of its subject matter, but because this takes us into aspects of Murdoch’s personality that he’s often flirted with, but resisted until now. Urich’s innermost thoughts are shown in typeface thought boxes, but Bendis and Mack are careful to spell out that this is not his story, but Murdoch’s. Veteran artists Klaus Janson and Bill Sienkiewicz fill the pages with gritty realism, catching us off-guard with unconventional pages in the midst of an amazing run. Witness a spread of 32 individual panels highlighted by Hawkeye‘s colourist Matt Hollingsworth, or classic Sienkiewicz in the first wide panel of the Kingpin. This isn’t elseworlds, it’s an in continuity canonical tale of Daredevil’s last days. It’s also a frightening vision, but impossible to look away from. We can’t wait to see how it all comes together.
Bits Rating: ★★★★½ – PICK OF THE WEEK
Amy Pond and Rory may have left the TV series with The Angels Take Manhattan, but they live on in more adventures from IDW. Andy Diggle, who has impressed us with Green Arrow: Year One and Rat Catcher, returns to his British roots with the debut issue of this new series of adventures inspired by the Eleventh Doctor (played on the box by Matt Smith). Diggle, as head writer of this “third volume” of comics, completely captures the vibe of the show, and it does feel like you are watching a weekly episode. Yet while the shop-front is the 2012 series, structurally it bears more of a resemblance to a classic 1970s serial format. The two-part “Hypothetical Gentlemen” posits itself in 1851, where a pair of charlatan mystics actually have access to a world beyond their own. Combining classic Victorian horror with the pace of the current series, the book is beautifully illustrated by Buckingham with a wonderfully watercoloured finish from Kirchoff. Fans can miss Amy and Rory no more as this rollicking adventure kicks off in style. If you somehow miss out on picking this up, ensure you find a TARDIS to go back and order it in time. We’re going forward to check out the next chapter!
Bits Rating: ★★★★
Oh, Green Arrow. Wherefore art thou, Green Arrow? Not to sound like a broken record, but the rebooted Oliver Queen is a book without a compass. In a month when DC (via the CW) is launching the new live-action Arrow TV series ostensibly based on the book, the comics division has Ollie fighting undead grandparents in China. Frustratingly, this comes off the glimmer of hope from the first issue of this arc. Noncenti doesn’t have the follow-through of her own ideas, collapsing in a whole slew of new elements in this conclusion to the Chinese arc. The introduction of Suzie Ming is a worthy partnership, and with any luck we’ll see her return in future issues. The artwork is also marked improvement over the odd look of Harvey Talibao, and at least that is a winning factor in this otherwise uneven issue. With Noncenti failing to deliver yet again, we now have over a year’s worth of lacklustre Arrow. The final pages tease next month’s crossover with Savage Hawkman, dragging the Thangarian War into these pages. Mike Grell, during his historic 80+ issue stand on the character, recognised the strengths of Ollie were in his family and in isolation of the DCU. With the story problems still evident after a year, crossovers are just smacking of desperation at this point.
Bits Rating: ★★½
Non-Humans #1 (of 4) – Image Comics, Glen Brunswick (writer), Whilce Portacio (artist)
An intriguing premise, in which a virus has brought inanimate objects to life, throws us into the middle of a world of Brunswick’s creation. Sort of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? by way of Blade Runner, a genre that is poised to sweep the nation, the Non-Humans of the title have become a part of daily life. Like the ‘toons, they have their own area called Plastic Town, and human/Non-Human couplings and interactions function on the illegal and not-so-kosher levels. Detective Oliver Aimes is a badass cop, recuperating from the murder of his partner and now on the hunt for a killer of Non-Humans. He is a bit of a bigot when it comes to the NH population (see, we’re using the slang already), and not helping matters is the relationship his son is having with a former Victoria’s Secret store dummy. While Aimes isn’t completely sold as a convincing character, the world is a holistic one, including the death of entertainment media, a virus-curbing drug and a ‘NH mafia’ that will play out over the next few issues. Portacio’s art is solid, capturing the gritty ‘reality’ of this neo-noir world, albeit nothing spectacular either. We’ll come back to this one next month and see how the world is doing.
Bits Rating: ★★★
Minimum Carnage: Alpha #1 – Marvel, Cullen Bunn, Christopher Yost (writers), Lan Medina (pencils)
If there was ever a doubt that the ’90s were back in force, another Spider-arc kicks off this week. Having been out of the whole symbiote loop for a while, this first issue of the new crossover event is a mixed bag. Updating and playing on the 1990s series “Maximum Carnage”, we see Carnage back on the loose after being sprung from the clink by some very tiny co-conspirators. Agent Venom, now an Avenger, is on the case and it crosses into Peter Parker clone Kaine’s territory in Texas. The first meeting of the two heroes is less than successful, but we suspect some team-ups in the near future. Interestingly, Bunn and Vost split the writing between Venom and Scarlet Spider/Kaine, resulting in very different styles for the very different characters. Medina’s clean art gives this event series an easily accesible shop-front, mirroring a cinematic layout, with enough splash moments to satiate the fanboys and girls. This will ultimately weave through Venom and Scarlet Spider for two issues a piece before returning to Minimum Carnage: Omega (geddit?). Now if only we can get variant foil and holographic covers going, we don’t need Doctor Who to time travel this week.
Bits Rating: ★★★