Single Combat 7/22/11

Posted on July 22, 2011. Filed under: Reviews, Single Issues |

By Erik Lewis, Lead Blogger

Got a little behind with things yesterday, as I’m still trying to figure out the ropes on this whole “reviewing new books on Thursday” thing, but I’m confident that I’ll have it down soon.  Apologies for the delay, by why not take this opportunity to move forward?  Shall we?  As always, I pick up my comics at Comics and Paperbacks Plus in Palmyra, PA.  You can find them on Facebook here or here, or you can stop in if you find yourself in Central Pennsylvania. You can also follow me on Twitter, just to see what I think of my books as I read them!  Here’s what I got this week:

Avengers #15
The Boys: Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker #1
Daredevil #1
Hellblazer #281
Herc #5
Hulk #37
Invincible Iron Man #506
Marvel Universe vs. Wolverine #2
War of the Green Lanterns: Aftermath #1

And now, here’s what I thought:

Invincible Iron Man #506

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Matt Fraction, Salvador Larroca, Frank D’Armata. Alejandro Arbona

Review by Erik Lewis

From Marvel’s Fear Itself #4 to Invincible Iron Man #506, we follow Tony Stark.  In Fear Itself, he petitions Odin for aid from the base of the World Tree, and in a stroke of genius, decides to sacrifice the things that mean most to him: his sobriety and his dignity.  It works, of course, and Odin decides to take Tony to Svartalheim where he will work with the same dwarves that forged mighty Mjolnir to first repair the arc reactor that was damaged in his fight with the hammer-wielding Grey Gargoyle in Paris(which also took out Detroit Steel) and then to forge weapons that will hopefully give Captain America and the Avengers a chance to turn the tide against Sin and the Serpent in Blitzkrieg USA.  I think what Fraction is doing here is actually very good, and while I don’t really need this issue to understand what’s happening in Fear Itself, it’s a nice diversion, and it’s nice to see that Marvel isn’t just ignoring that Iron Man is a huge part of Fear Itself.  Ok, so maybe he’s not as huge to the story as Captain America or Thor are, but he’s still huge.  One interesting thing about the turn that Fraction takes here is how he handles Tony’s sacrifice of sobriety.  I know that all it really takes is one good(or hell, bad) excuse to relapse from sobriety, and it may just be me not wanting the character to go down this path, but I find Tony’s continued drinking in this book to be something of a hard sell.  It’s actually because of that that this book does so well for me, though.  It makes you care about the character to the point of making the book a little uncomfortable.  Plus, Fraction writes great dwarves, even when their dialogue is half runed-out swear words.  The subplot of Pepper and the Hammer people loos in Paris with Grey Gargoyle still on the loose is also very compelling, and I can’t wait to see how it plays out.  I have no complaints about the artwork; Asgardian scenes look appropriately epic, and Earth scenes look a little darker.  The artist’s storytelling style works really well for Fraction’s writing style.  A fantastic read, even if it is a tie-in.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5




Hellblazer #281

DC/Vertigo, $2.99

Peter Milligan, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Stefano Landini, Shelly Bond

Review by Erik Lewis

As a long-time reader of Hellblazer, one of my favorite things about the series is that it has a memory of itself, which probably comes from the fact that time moves regularly in Hellblazer, and the fact that the series has never been rebooted.  Whatever the reason, though, I love that for John Constantine, things that happened 200 or more issues ago, or things that happened 6 issues ago all can have an impact on his life in the current issue.  This particular issue is the end of the arc where Gemma, Constantine’s niece, is getting revenge on John for something he didn’t do.  Specifically, when the demon who was posing as John raped her in the bathroom at his own wedding reception.  The whole ordeal has taken Gemma to a very dark place, indeed.  It’s a place that sees her consorting with demons and helping John’s enemies get even with him, even if “getting even” involves killing her former favorite uncle.  It’s interesting and a little sad to see Gemma come to hate her uncle, even if it is true to form for Constantine.  You really can’t get away with being close to him without getting hurt in one way or another.  It’s something that’s been established about the character, and something that every writer who takes on Hellblazer continues, and continues superbly.  Anyway, back to what I was saying about Gemma; it’s interesting to see her come to hate her uncle, and completely understandable, but it’s more than a little redeeming for her character the see her come to Epiphany to get her uncle some help.  For John’s part of the story, it’s more than a little cool to see him in a fight with a demon, because while he’s a renowned mage, combat really isn’t his strong suit.  This arc wraps up fairly neatly, and I, for one, cannot wait for what comes next.

Ollie’s Beard 3/5




Marvel Universe vs. Wolverine #2

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Jonathan Maberry, Laurence Campbell, Lee Loughridge

Review by Erik Lewis

It may be an alternate universe and not the normal 616, but honestly, it’s not that far off.  With this title, Maberry has proved to me that he can write just about any character in the Marvel Universe more than adequately.  Let me start by saying that I’m not usually a fan of Wolverine, but with this title, Maberry has taken the character and turned him into someone I could read more than four issues about.  Maberry, just like I wrote about his interpretation of Doctor Doom during Doomwar, really seems to get into the heads of the characters he writes, and Wolverine is no exception.  If you haven’t read Marvel Universe vs. The Punisher, it’s not exactly required reading to understand this title, but it certainly helps set both the scene and the tone for this miniseries.  Our story thus far: After watching Spider-Man eat the Rhino on live TV, Wolverine goes to Reed Richards to find out why it happened.  After some very scientific setup(something Maberry does wonderfully in both his novels and his comics), Wolverine is put on the trail of someone who murdered and ate Psylocke and seems similar to Spider-Man.  He hunts this killer for all of the first issue, and when it turns out to be Angel, Wolverine knows that things in the world have changed, that the status quo will not be preserved, and that people hunting people is now pretty much the norm.  This issue sees Wolverine and Punisher(who is immune to the spreading disease and pretty much the cause of the spread) working together to try and get through a city gone mad.  It’s all very interesting and very driving, especially the turn near the end of the book, and reveal of something that has been building all issue on the last page.  This is something, that, upon first glance, you might write off as being another Marvel Zombies book, but if you were to write it off, that would be a mistake.  Maberry takes the zombie idea and looks at it differently, and that difference is enough to make for an interesting and intelligent read.  Do yourself a favor and read this series.

Ollie’s Beard 3/5




Herc #5

Marvel Comics, $2.99

Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, Neil Edwards, Cory Hamscher, Jesus Aburtov, Mark Paniccia

Review by Erik Lewis

Herc is not really what you think of when you think of Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente on Hercules, but that’s really part of the charm.  Of course, you have Hercules in the book, and an all new supporting cast of characters(although it seems to be a somewhat revolving cast), and Amadeus Cho is conspicuously absent.  It’s alright though, the premise is more than enough to make up for it.  For those of you who don’t know, during Chaos War, Hercules gave up his omnipotence as a Sky Father to save the Marvel Universe from destruction at the hands of the Chaos King, and even used some of his power to bring back previously dead heroes(see Alpha Flight, out now), but in the course of things has lost all of his godly powers.  So, no longer immortal(with all the drawbacks that entails), Hercules has appointed himself the protector of Brooklyn.  What’s really interesting about this issue is that while it’s a Fear Itself tie-in, it’s really only coincidentally so.  I mean, While he’s in New York during the Blitzkrieg, he’s still doing his own thing, and handling the problems of his own pantheon, rather than trying to help “cousin Thor” out of his jam.  Van Lente and Pak have the perfect take on Hercules, too.  He wants to help, and he knows how to fight and who to trust, although in recent issues, that’s been escaped Raft inmates, but hey, if it works, it works.  And while he’s been tempted with regaining his immortality(and all the perks that entails), he embodies the ideal of the hero that he’s come to represent and chooses to remain mortal, if only for the chance to help those that need help.  Lastly, the ending of the issue, while it may be one of the oldest tricks in the book, makes sense and is entertaining enough to guarantee that I’ll be getting the next issue.

Volstagg’s Beard 4/5




Butcher: Baker, Candlestickmaker #1

Dynamite Comics, $3.99

Garth Ennis, Darick Robertson, Tony Avina, Joseph Rybandt

Review by Erik Lewis

For fans of Garth Ennis’s The Boys, this title is a must read.  Finally, we get the back story of the leader of the titular group, in an arc that could have been handled by the main title, but gets it’s own miniseries instead.  It’s a brilliant strategy, really, in that what could take up valuable story space in the main comic instead gets it’s own book, meaning that Dynamite will get just a little bit more money from you while you continue to get a complete, unbroken story in the pages of the main title.  Part of me wishes that the story of Mother’s Milk and the Frenchman were handled in the same way.  In the first issue of this story, time kind of skips around.  In the present, we see Butcher visiting his father’s viewing at his former home, and in the past, we get the story of Butcher’s early childhood, as well as a brief look at some of his time in the military, during which he showcases the fortitude that we’ve come to expect from the leader of The Boys.  The largest portion of the book, however, is the part that tells about Butcher’s early childhood, and while it’s far from surprising to see the conditions of Butcher’s family life, it is compelling.  It’s interesting to note that had he been raised by just his father, or even his father and mother, the Butcher would be a very different character.  It’s the combined influence of his younger brother, father, and mother that start him down the path to become the man he is when we meet him in the pages of the Boys.  The composite personality that he shows is really the takeaway here, and if you’re curious about how someone could grow up to become what he is, then it’s definitely worth your time.

Ollie’s Beard 3/5




Daredevil #1

Marvel Comics, $3.99

Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera, Joe Rivera, Stephen Wacker

Review by Erik Lewis

While seeing Mark Waid’s name on the first page was a little disappointing as I was thoroughly enjoying Andy Diggle’s take on the character, Waid’s approach to Daredevil in this first issue is fantastic.  After the events of Shadowland and DD Reborn, Matt Murdock is back in New York City, reassuming his role as a trial lawyer and as the costumed hero Daredevil.  Mark Waid takes a great tack on Murdock’s life as Daredevil, having the hero thwart a kidnapping attempt at a mafia wedding, masterminded by the Spot, as well as having Daredevil attacked by someone who knows him very well.  I’m sure the reasons for the attack are justified, especially after the events of Shadowland, but all of that is enough to get me interested in the next issue without even touching on what seems to be the best part of the comic.  For a lot of Daredevil fans the way to make a story about Daredevil as interesting as possible is to balance out his justice-seeking vigilante career with his justice-seeking law career(and this is, in fact, the reason why a lot of people felt the Ben Affleck movie wasn’t very good).  Murdock certainly has a lot in front of him if he wants to maintain that balance, but he seems to be on the right path to do so.  All of this only describes the main story, by the way.  The book also features a backup story that works for completely different ways.  It shows the relationship between Foggy Nelson and Matt in a perfect light, and to top it all off, the art style is perfect to show a blend of Matt’s heightened senses and a pace to the story.  Larger panels blend with smaller ones to describe what Matt senses as he walks through New York with Foggy, discussing things.  Really, you couldn’t ask for a more perfect backup story.  This book serves as a perfect jumping-on point for new readers, as well as a welcome fresh start for long-time Daredevil fans, and is not to be missed.

Odin’s Beard 5/5




And that’s it for Single Combat for this week.  Again, sorry for the delay.  Be sure to watch my twitter stream for another update today, though.

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