Monday, January 24, 2011

Avengers Academy #8

Writer:  Christos Gage
Penciler:  Mike McKone
Inker:  Rebecca Buchman

I remember the first Avengers book I bought.  It was a Steve Englehart story in the original series.  At that time there was only 1 Avengers title.  Was it a classic story?  No.  It was the issue before Steve's epic Avengers/Defenders War.  But to me it was amazing.  I loved the war Steve was able to make the characters real.  It seemed like they were real people who just happened to have amazing adventures.  I followed the Avengers ever since that issue until Bendis took the reins.  I kept reading during the Avengers Disassembled but this was not my Avengers.  I have tried reading Bendis' Avengers off and on but it lacked something.  What I discovered with this title is that Christos Gage knows how to write "my Avengers".

This issue is a perfect example.  I love the way he shows the conflict between the teachers and the students.  The students are torn between what they want to do and what the teachers are telling them.  They have conflict within the ranks but support each other when push comes to shove.

In this issue, the students find a video, on the internet, of Tigra's beatdown at the hands of the Hood.  They want to know what Tigra did to him when she caught the Hood.  Tigra says that she sent him to prison.  That is what heroes do.  If the heroes start taking revenge through violence, they are no better than the villains.

The students decide to take revenge for her.  They expect this will make her happy and send a message to the villains at the same time.  Tigra has the opposite reaction.  The ending is very believable.  This is a comic that I can't wait for the next issue.

Highly recommended.

4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Amazing Spider-Man #652

Writer:  Dan Slott
Artist:  Stefano Caselli
Publisher:  Marvel

The relaunch of Spider-Man has been solid.  After the low point of the series back in "One More Day", I quit reading the series.  Around the time of "American Son" I returned to the series.  "American Son" was a very good return to the type of story I expect in this book.  Now Slott has been installed as the regular writer.

This issue features the start of a new story called "Revenge of the Spider-Slayer".  The brains behind this scheme is Alistair Smythe, the son of the original Spider-SlayerHe blames J. Jonah Jameson for the death of his father.  His plan for revenge consists of killing JJJ's son, wife, and father.  JJJ will be helpless as he watches his loved ones die.  He recruits others who hate JJJ to help him.  This includes Mac Gargan, the original Scorpion.

Slott shows that he knows how to handle Spider-Man's cast in the opening sequence.  The combination of drama, humor, and patented bad Parker luck makes this feel like old home week on this title.  I like that Slott is showing that Peter is a brain with his new job.  Too often, writers forget that Peter is a genius. 

Smythe's invasion of the base is well planned.  Peter is forced into action as Spider-Man when Smythe's plan is put into motion.  The twist at the end is a good finish to this part of the story.

Stefano Caselli's art is a mixture of a manga influenced style with occasional Mike McKone type faces.  One of my favorite pages in this issue is the shot of the Smythe's insect army in silhouette as they approach Andru Air Force Base.  The images show that the characters are not quite human.  The design of the Fly shows a bizarre human/insect hybird.  It is perfect for this character.

If this is the new status quo for Spider-Man, I will continue to follow it.


3 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Morning Glories #1

Writer:  Nick Spenser
Art:  Joe Eisma
Publisher:  Image Comics

"For a better future" seems to be the theme of this first issue.  It appears in various spots throughout the story.  The basic story is that teenagers from various walks of life are coming together at a special school.  For the most part, they are excited by this opportunity.  What they don't see is that violent happenings are going on behind the scenes.  The final page revelation is shocking.  

Nick Spenser does a solid job of setting the stage for the rest of the series.  The various characters are shown to have different personalities.  The history of each character is established while not revealing all of the mysteries.  Spenser is rapidly proving himself to be one of the best of the new writers in the industry.  He sets up an interesting story without giving too much away.  The mysteries in this issue (all of the students were born on the same day?) and the shock ending make you anxious for the next issue.  This is the way to start a new series.

The art by Joe Eisma shows solid storytelling skills with a touch of manga influence.  The panel layouts help keep the story moving.  He showcases a good knowledge of how to tell a story.  

The team of Spencer and Eisma have created a great start for this series.

Highly recommended.

4 out of 5 stars.