The Haul: What ho, Thor!

Thor #616Thor #616
Fraction, Ferry, Hollingsworth

Fraction’s Thor is funny, clever and captures all of it’s characters well. While we’re only two issues into his run, it’s becoming a very enjoyable ride with a new chapter for the God of Thunder. Following Siege, Asgard is left on Earth, which leaves the realm of Asgard open for the taking. Enter a new villain, Ulthana Thoth, who appears as a sort of extradimensional conqueror IN SPACE who just happens to be red and have a beard. Then we have Volstagg talking to a scientist he describes as a ‘Space Doctor’ who serves as a sort of expository device for the plot but it works well enough to not be as blatant as it sounds. Thor himself is characterized well, with his role as a warrior being tested by his role as king in Odin’s stead, and faced with the challenge of Asgard’s current state. This arc is shaping up to be not only a fun one, but an important one for Thor’s growth as a character, and I definitely recommend grabbing this and #615 if you can find it. Oh and Ferry and Hollingsworth’s art is pretty.

Invaders Now #2Invaders Now #2 (of 5)
Gage, Ross, Reiss

I really like the idea of all these characters being brought back together, especially with Human Torch Jim Hammond and the Golden Age Vision. That said, it feels the slightest bit contrived. I’m still enjoying the book, but while I really liked the first issue, I wasn’t as awed by this one. At the end of the last issue it’s declared that during World War II the Invaders were responsible for the deaths of an entire village of civilians, and this issue is a flashback to that. I don’t think the decisions made by the Invaders really fit the characters, particularly Steve, despite the circumstances being made dire enough to warrant what occurs. I guess this is just a case of ‘Your Mileage May Vary’ and I just wasn’t completely convinced. Still, it’s a decent issue and on the art side of things I really love what Reiss is doing.

Green Hornet #8Green Hornet #8
Smith, Hester, Lau

This whole series has been nothing short of amazing, and this issue is one of the best of the lot. The less than mysterious identity of the Black Hornet is revealed, his plot unfolds and more tragedy strikes. Kevin Smith’s plot is well-constructed and well-paced and it’s almost a shame that this story was never made into a film like it was planned. But of course, here in comic form it thrives. Jonathan Lau’s art is another highlight of the book, with some of the best pencils in any book I buy, in my opinion. Action scenes are particularly well conceived with motion being portrayed perfectly, and Lau’s grasp of speed lines near matches Francis Manapul’s, current artist of The Flash. A gorgeous  book with a plot any pulp fan should love.

The Last Phantom #2The Last Phantom #2
Beatty, Ferigato

The latest incarnation of the Phantom is still in the stages of creating his persona, taking on the role for the first time on his quest for vengeance over murders of friends in the first issue. It’s hard to judge the direction the series will take this early on, but the dark representation of The Ghost Who Walks is appreciated. Seeing him not just kill his enemies, but torture them is something that you rarely find in a protagonist (The Punisher would be another one who comes to mind). It remains to be seen whether Kit will remain in his current ‘costume’ or whether he will take up the purple spandex, although the camoflauge suits his enemies wear are purple so there’s hints. Ferigato’s art is nice, but I kind of wish the colours weren’t so vibrant. Overall, it’s best to leave judgement on this series until after the first arc is completed, but I am enjoying everything so far.

Knight and Squire #1Knight and Squire #1 (of 6)
Cornell, Broxton, Major
[DC Comics]

One of the new books I’ve been most looking forward to, Knight and Squire didn’t disappoint. While a few of the references went over my head, and some of the slang is tricky, the issue is still hilarious. It features a huge cast of ridiculous characters like The Milkman and the Pirate Astronomers, and I particularly liked the idea of ‘cover versions’ which are British versions of American villains. It was also cool to see how differently the characters are treated, with Jarvis Poker (the British Joker) exemplifying Knight’s idea of moderation. The issue features what can only be described as a magical pub, which is enchanted to prevent fighting, and so it’s a place for heroes and villains alike to have a drink. Complete fun. Broxton’s art fits the tone of the series well, and I look forward to seeing what he and Cornell come up with for the next 5 issues.

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #5Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #5 (of 6)
Morrison, Sook, Perez, Gray, Villarrubia
[DC Comics]

This series has basically been a huge disappointment. While the concept behind it is sound, the fact that it merely serves as a framework for more or less inconsequential and sometimes quite dull stories is a real shame. However, perhaps because I’m a fan of noir fiction, issue 5 is a bit of a step up. Bruce, still amnesiac, is flung into the role of a 1950’s detective investigating the death of Martha Wayne. The plot with Marsha and John Mayhew is interesting enough in and of itself to save the issue, and the fact that this is the penultimate issue for the series means the tiny plot threads that have been strung through the series are coming to a head. But this doesn’t mean the issue was good, just more tolerable than the previous four. The art’s nice, and very noir-ish, but the scenes showing Red Robin, Wonder Woman and other heroes don’t really work in that style so they came off a bit wrong. To be perfectly honest I’ll be relieved when I don’t have to buy this series anymore.

Road Home: Batman and RobinBruce Wayne – The Road Home: Batman and Robin
Nicieza, Richards, Hannin
[DC Comics]

Bruce Wayne – the Road Home begins with Bruce, wearing a new costume, monitoring Dick and Damian to evaluate their performance. The issue validates a lot of what Batman and Robin readers have been suspecting and was a very appreciated look at the growth of the characters from what is the most authoritative source in Gotham. It was interesting to see how Bruce focussed on the differences between Dick and himself as Batman, and complimenting Dick on his more relaxed nature. While the issue doesn’t delve into Bruce’s relationship with Damian at all (Bruce observes them, he doesn’t interact with them yet), it does have him praising Dick’s mentoring of Damian. The book also continues with Vicki Vale’s prying into the Batman Family, which continues in other Road Home one-shots. All in all, this issue was a great success and a treat to read.

Road Home: Red RobinBruce Wayne – The Road Home: Red Robin
Nicieza, Bachs, Lucas, Major
[DC Comics]

Continuing straight on from the Batman and Robin story, Bruce and Tim work together to investigate the Council of Spiders in Amsterdam. Simply put, this issue is one of my favourite comics ever. Nicieza is treating Tim with the reverance he deserves, validating Tim’s role as a detective. Bruce acknowledges Tim’s capacity for planning and it really highlights Tim’s growth into an independent character, who is even something of a match for Bruce. Seeing the two of them fight against one another, and reading their inner monologues which are both calculating and predicting the other’s actions was great. Tim is one of my favourite characters, as is Bruce, and seeing them interact not as mentor and sidekick but as partners, and having Bruce admire Tim’s work is exactly what Red Robin fans have been waiting for.

Road Home: OutsidersBruce Wayne – The Road Home: Outsiders
Barr, Saltares, Buchman, Wong, Pantazis
[DC Comics]

I haven’t been following Outsiders, so this issue is a little bit difficult for me to follow, but I am familiar with all of the characters involved, even if not the situation with New Krypton that was mentioned. Following Bruce’s set-up of an assassination rumor on Geo-Force, he travels to Markovia and is caught up in his own plot, with the Outsiders believing Bruce, in his new costume, is the assassin. So it’s a standard mistaken identity plot. Still, it’s enjoyable seeing Bruce evaluating and incapacitating his opponents. It was also rather cool seeing some more of the functions of his ‘Insider’ suit, which had previously shown (in Red Robin) a JLA teleporter and a Speed Force overdrive mode, and in this issue showed a lasso that allowed Bruce to know if someone was lying, and a ring which shoots concussive blasts. It very much fits Bruce’s personality for him to try to do everything himself, and sort of operate as a one-man Justice League. Overall, the issue was interesting, but I’d have gained more from it if I was an Outsiders reader.

I did also get Bruce Wayne – The Road Home: Batgirl, but as Catwoman is the next one after Outsiders, I’ll delay reading Batgirl until I’ve read the preceding books which come out next week.



About Brad
I am the Captain of the Starship Lollipants from the planet Buttermonkey, setting off on a wild adventure to discover some stuff and probably receive psychiatric assistance. Oh look, a butterfly made of peanuts. OM NOM NOM.

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