Avengers Arena #7
Dennis Hopeless provides some insight into how this situation arose in the newest issue of “Avengers Arena”. After the death of Kid Briton in #6, the kids are left alone for an issue and Arcade is introduced to the story as an actual character, rather than an omnipotent dungeon master.
There’s certainly no sympathy to be had for the red-haired megalomaniac, he’s a monster through-and-through, but an intriguing monster. In a fashion similar to John’s “Aquaman”, Hopeless reveals the public perception of Arcade to match that of the audience, that he is a joke and then turns it on its head. His goals are now clear and he’s a little scarier, even after detonating someone like Mettle. He’s not just playing another game, he’s seeking a reputation to put him on par with Dr. Doom or Loki, not schmucks like the Constrictor (and how great was that hammer?).
This issue also ensures that the island is not a virtual reality or dream. These characters are definitely dying.
After the dramatic tension of “Death of the Family” and “Requiem”, this book feels rather light. That’s not to say it is bad by any means. Only that it is a much needed breather after so many high impact stories in the title. It’s also difficult to talk about the story without giving anything away, but I can say this much. It’s a fun (if predictable) twist and Snyder’s redux of a classic villain is much needed. Capullo’s art also does wonders for this particular character.
The gatefold cover is entirely unnecessary. It’s just a preview of what occurs in the first couple of pages and could have been done on a regular cover. Dumb.
I don’t know how much more I can say about “Hawkeye”. It’s probably the best superhero book being written right now. It’s super smart and well designed. The issues are constructed to stand as individual stories and can be re-read multiple times for better effect. Also, watch out for the ending, it’s a sucker punch.
The Secret Service #6
I didn’t dislike “The Secret Service” as a whole, but I can’t say I liked it either. The series concludes in the exact way you would expect a Mark Millar spy-story to conclude: violently. Lots of people get shot, planes explode, and some other stuff happens. If you’ve ever watched a James Bond film though, it’s something you’ve seen before to some degree. Outside of the rather funny switcheroo played with the satellite signal, it’s all cut and pasted from action films. That would be okay if this was an action film (and it is being adapted), since it can be really fun to watch this kind of thing on screen. When it’s put in a comic though, where your imagination is the limit, instead of a special effects budget, it’s not nearly as entertaining. If there was a reason to care about the central protagonist, that might have helped, but ultimately he’s just a blase surrogate for young, adult males.
Overall, the best way to describe “The Secret Service” overall is that it simply is.
Star Wars #4
They might as well have titled this “Star Wars: Episode 4.5”. Brian Wood does an incredible job of capturing the feel of the original Star Wars trilogy, from the action to the characters to the humor. It feels like Lucas made three films and a comic, back when he was telling good stories. The book does a good job of bridging the first two films, while telling its own story of a mysterious traitor. Luke, Leia, and Han are all growing as characters, despite the audience knowledge of their destined outcomes. Someone really ought to consult Brian Wood about the new trilogy (and apparently should have consulted him about the prequels…).
Thor: God of Thunder #7
Thor returns in this months issue with as much bombast as readers have come to expect. Aaron begins the “Godbomb” storyline by playing the modern and elder Thor off one another in a really enjoyable manner. Elder Thor reflects upon his younger self the same way you or I might reflect upon ourselves in high school with a mix of amusement and pity. It’s heavy on foreshadowing and light on plot, but a lot of fun the whole way through.
Uncanny Avengers #6
This is essentially a bonus issue of “Thor: God of Thunder”. It focuses on the young Thor from Aaron’s new run and how he relates to Kang’s machinations in this book. So all of the nice things I said above apply here.
That having been said, it doesn’t do much to move the book along or focus on the title’s central premise in any way. It’s a nice one off, but is more of a tie-in than an actual issue of “Uncanny Avengers”.
Status: On the Bubble
Uncanny X-Men #4
This book is improving each issue. Rather than struggle with re-telling the same scene depicted in “All-New X-Men”, Bendis utilizes it as an excellent opportunity. The conversation from its sister title plays out as background to a psychic conversation between Emma Frost and the Stepford Cuckoos to wonderful effect. It adds depth to what has already occurred in “All-New” and helps characterize these strong women in the book. The dynamic is established well enough to create a great deal of anticipation concerning how the relationship will evolve. This scene also allows the art to finally begin to shine. The stark black-and-white backgrounds and mindscapes of the psychic conversation enhance the story dramatically in a way that no other medium really could.
The newest mutants also receive some excellent characterization work, although the transition to them is a bit jarring and I wasn’t sure about the time frame in which this all occurred. But it included dinosaurs and that’s never a bad thing. This is the first issue which has really found a strong balance between Bendis character driven writing and Nicieza’s dynamic art. It’s a strong sign of improvement on an already decent book.
Status: On the Bubble