20
Jan
2011
Chris' Comics Corner
Chris' Comics Corner
Chris
So. Anyone heard any news about The Dark Knight Rises recently?

And as a quick note to anyone who is getting their rage on over Bane being the villain of the new bat flick, let me assure you that the Bane from the comics was a calculating master strategist, who was a worthy opponent for Batman both physically and mentally. In his first confrontation with Batman, Bane unleashed the inmates of Arkham and allowed Batman to wear himself out recapturing them. He then DEDUCES Batman's secret identity, lays in wait for him at Wayne Manor, and in the ensuing battle, breaks Batman's spine.

The hulking monstrosity from the cringe worthy (yet excellent drinking game fodder) Batman & Robin was a ridiculous interpretation of a truly terrifying Bat villain. Bane will definitely work within the universe Nolan has created, and I can't wait to see Tom Hardy's portrayal of the character.

Ok. Onto reviews.

Avengers Academy #8
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Mike McKone

I really, really like this book. Despite the fact that it is the only core Avengers title not written by one of Marvel's architects, a title Marvel has given to five of their most prolific writers, this series is consistently one of my top ten reads.

During Norman Osborn's time as head of U.S. security, he discovered, captured, experimented on, and tortured numerous adolescent super humans in an effort to help them fully realize their powers and so he could bolster the ranks of his super human army. After defeating Osborn, the Avengers informed six of these teenagers that they had the potential to one day become full fledged Avengers, and invited them to train at a newly opened facility called the Avengers Academy under the guidance of, as I call them, the most interesting team in comics: Giant Man, Tigra, Quicksilver, Justice, and Speedball.

The students quickly discover that the Avengers lied to them. These six were not selected because they show the most promise to become the next generation of super heroes, they were selected because their psych evaluations raised numerous red flags, and the Avengers saw a high potential of them growing up to become super villains if they did not step in to offer guidance.

This issue opens with the students discovering that the video of the Hood, the super-villain kingpin of crime, mercilessly ambushing Tigra in her home and beating her senseless has been leaked onto the internet. Tigra is forced to confront her darkest hour made public, while a handful of the students decide to disobey the orders of their instructors and sneak out of the Academy to find the Hood and get some pay back.

The connecting theme for the protagonists of this series is damage. The instructors were all chosen because of the personal tragedies they have experienced and the egregious mistakes they have made. This group can relate to the troubled students because at one point or another in their careers as heroes, they have all hit rock bottom and now they are trying to be better. The real fight in this book isn't against the various villains the heroes face, it's for the souls of their charges, and this issue sees a major step back on the path to heroism for several students, leading to Tigra making a startling proclamation at the end of the issue.

This book has so much going for it! Great writing, Phenomenal art, a killer hook, and best of all, each issue is self contained, (aside from the sub plots that carry over from month to month). I defy you to show me another book that tells a more satisfying, complete single issue story on a regular monthly basis. While it might not sell as well as the other Avengers titles, Avengers Academy is definitely the best of the bunch.

Grade: A-


Invincible Iron Man #500
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca, Kano, Nathan Fox, Carmine Di Giandomenico

This milestone, phone book sized celebration of everything Iron Man takes place in two time periods, the present, where Tony Stark teams up with Spider-Man to recover the plans for a doomsday weapon he designed but can't remember much about due to his recent memory wipe, and the future, where Stark and his descendants face a nightmare world upon which said weapon was unleashed.

While it is a satisfying read, I can't help but feel that this issue mostly teased at the bigger picture of things to come without offering any truly new developments or insights that weren't beats that this creative team has already hit. Don't get me wrong, it was a great issue, and this being the second time it's happened, I can only hope that Fraction intends to make the Iron Man/Spider-Man team up an annual event in his book, because under his pen it is a winning combination! (I especially love that throughout the fight against a group of anarchist terrorists who have named themselves after a deceased villain named Stilts Man, Spider-Man continually remarks that despite the fact that Stilts Man was a bank robber and a moron, he was actually a sweet guy and would've hated everything the terrorists stood for.) And I don't think I'm alone in demanding that Marvel make Salvador Larroca an offer he can't refuse to get him on a Spider-Man title as soon as he finishes his run on Iron Man.

Invincible Iron Man is the smartest and highest quality book Marvel is currently publishing. The only fault I can level against it is that sometimes the pacing can be infuriating as I think was the case with this issue, which, while it was a great read, made me more excited for what's to come, rather than the actual book I was holding in my hands, which wouldn't normally be a problem for me, except for the fact that this was such an important milestone issue.

Grade: B+


Buffy The Vampire Slayer #40
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Joss Whedon
Artist: Georges Jeanty

This is the one that I know for a fact that several people who read this blog are actually following so I'm gonna try to be as non spoilery as possible, forgive my vagueness.

After almost a year's worth of issues where the action geared up fast and never looked back, the finale to Joss Whedon's Season 8 finally stops, takes a deep breath, and examines how these characters have changed and where they are headed. It's a bitter and sad ending. So much was lost at the end of last issue, it's hard to disagree with the characters who angrily assert that the world is less bright.

Buffy makes the rounds checking in with most of the surviving characters, revealing new status quos and hinting at future plot lines. We don't really take a lot of time to see the characters reacting to the deaths of major players, but I think that's ok as the ramifications of these losses will likely play a major role in the upcoming Season 9. While the guest writers have all done a great job at capturing the voices of these characters, it's always nice to see the master back at the helm, I especially loved the dialogue in the exchange between Buffy and Spike, which added a much needed bit of comic relief and a nice examination of how their relationship has evolved.

As a fan I do mourn both the characters lost, and the changes to the world of BTVS, however from a plot perspective I understand why these decisions were made, and I am very excited to see where we go from here.

Grade: A-

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