Age of Ultron #3
On the bright side, we got a more dramatic reveal than Captain America hanging out in a hallway at the end of this issue.
Besides that final reveal, there isn’t a whole lot new about this issue to enjoy. It’s composed of more ruined landscapes, more talking about a plan, and the continuation of a crawling plot. The potential highlight of the issue, an innovative teamup between Rulk, Black Panther, and Taskmaster is quickly dispatched and does nothing to advance the story. Realistically, there’s not really a story yet. The world has been affected by disaster, but there’s no real forward momentum. Even the final page, which was the only thing about this issue to elicit any sort of emotion from me, just begs more questions. It’s time for Bendis to start advancing the story or this series is surely doomed to be another miserable Marvel event.
Status: On the Bubble
Ed Brubaker’s self-contained stories in “Fatale” are just as good, if not better, than the five issue arcs with which the series began. Like the previous issue in this arc, Brubaker tells a story not about the central protagonist, Josephine, but about a woman similarly afflicted by supernatural elements. This allows what would normally be considered a side plot to become a fully realized story that also adds to the central premise of the series. Brubaker, a master of genre fiction, capabally fuses Western elements into the title’s noir and horror overtones.
The book does not add a great deal to the overall mystery, only establishing that there have been many women like Jo over the course of history. This doesn’t detract from the story, as the characters are worth watching, with or without any explanation of the greater darkness haunting their lives. It’s also nice to know what really caused the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Take that history!
Morning Glories #25
“Morning Glories” may be aptly compared to the television series “Lost”. It contains great character work, large-scale mysteries, and an intriguing blend of scientific and mystical elements. Spencer has crafted an excellent series, but one that loses something between issues. Unlike a television series which can add an hour of story each week, this book is left with only twenty-some pages every month. With a diverse cast of characters and an over abundance of simultaneously progressing plot lines, it’s difficult to keep track of everything and that detracts from the narrative. Even though this issue is double-sized, it still feels like a small glimpse of a much wider story.
That having been said, the writing and art as good as ever, only weighed down by the reader’s time spent away from the book between issues. I’m starting to rethink reading this series on a monthly basis. It’s a good book, but the narrative may not be best suited to small monthly pamphlets.
Status: Starting to Fade (Thank you, Johnnie!)
Time Warp #1
Short story collections are great, whether they’re from the same writer or a collection based around a theme. They’re often overlooked as well, even if they have star power contributing to the title. “Time Warp” is just such a collection and you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not giving it a try, if you’re a fan of science fiction or comics.
There are a total of nine stories contained in this book and each one is enjoyable in its own right. The collection of talent is excellent, including Gail Simone, Damon Lindelof, Peter Milligan and more. Although most of the stories are based in science fiction and more specifically time travel, there’s a wide range of tone reflecting the pool of talent. A few stand out stories include “It’s Full of Demons” featuring a couple of twists and lots of detail worth a re-read, “I Have What You Need” featuring the ever-delightful character work of Mrs. Simone, and “R.I.P.” because Rip Hunter is awesome. A couple of stories fall flat or feel out of place, but these are the exceptions of the book.
You’re sure to find some things you like and some you like less, but it’s all easily digestible, providing a brief glimpse at a lot of talent. Hopefully, this won’t be the last time we see this kind of offering from Vertigo.
Status: Great! (Can’t be hooked to a self-contained book)
Uncanny Avengers #5
Rick Remender begins to play to the strengths that made his “Uncanny X-Force” such an excellent superhero team book. He bounces characters off of one another to see how they react, while allowing greater forces to build in the background. It’s a real improvement on the first four issues of the series. The biggest problem is that with such well-known characters like Captain America and Thor, the interactions are less interesting. What made “Uncanny X-Force” so enjoyable was Remender’s interpretations and well-planned character arcs for the entire cast, especially Fantomex and Archangel. He even managed to tell defining character arcs for more popular icons like Wolverine and Deadpool. That hasn’t been as obvious in this book, where Cap and Thor feel shackled to their history in concurrently published Avengers titles. It makes his exploration of Havoc, Wonder Man, and Sunfire all the more exciting though. It’s clear he has big things planned and it may be worth sticking around to see how it all plays out.
Although this issue is probably the best written of the series so far, it does suffer from the loss of John Cassaday on art. His Red Skull’s appearance was iconic and probably the single most enjoyable component of the first four issues. The art is by no means bad, but it is a notable downgrade from the sublime work of Cassaday.
Status: On the Bubble
Young Avengers #3
This book is simply too cool for school. Everything that’s good about the first several issues, including tight dialogue, creative layouts, and fun art is maintained in the third issue. Normally a series where only two-thirds of the central cast was in play this far in would be suffering from some sense of decompression though. In Gillen’s hands it’s not a problem because as much as the story lacks in plot progression, it makes up for it with characterization. Billy, Teddy, and especially Kid Loki could hang out drinking coffee for three issues and I would still be entertained. They’re well realized characters and a joy to watch interact with one another. The pacing may be an issue for some, but if you like any of the characters in this book (And how can you not like Loki? He’s Tyrion!), then you’re sure to love it.