From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Snapshots: Ultimate Avengers, New Avengers, Fantastic Four, Incredible Hercules, X-Force, Abe Sapien

This week’s bumper Snapshots will measure my interest levels through the medium of animals you might see at the zoo;

Ultimate Avengers 3 (Marvel)

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Mark Millar introduces us to a new team of Ultimate Avengers this issue, and they are quite a bunch. My favorite thus far is Nerd Hulk. Nick Fury and his team, including mysterious new incarnations of the Black Widow and Spider-Man, head after the renegade (and slightly racist) Captain America. Whilst not quite as mesmerizing as Ultimate Spider-Man, so far the combination of Millar’s dry scripting and Carlos Pacheco’s sublime art has not failed to deliver and that remains true this issue. Zoo rating: Cheetah.

X-Force 20 (Marvel)

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Despite stunning art from Mike Choi and Sonia Oback, X-Force’s latest outing has been rather too dependent on the reader’s knowledge of the previous X-23 limited series. While it’s all been piece together-able I get the feeling that it would have meant a lot more if I had read that series. On top of that, this arc concludes in a somewhat non-concludery way. Yep. Concludery. That said, X-23s manner of escape is rather poetic and the art really is top banana. Zoo rating: A slightly mangy polar bear.

Fantastic Four 572 (Marvel)

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572! Despite the high numbering Jonathan Hickman’s first story, which wraps up here, is a nice jumping on point for anyone who fancies a slice of the Fantastic. While superficially the story centers around Mr. Fantastic, the whole tale is in fact set up to shift the focus of the Fantastic Four back to the whole cast rather than just Reed, who has been at the forefront for quite some time. All this is achieved with some inter-dimensional God killing chucked in for good measure. Which works for me. A classy treatment of a classic comic. Zoo rating:  Elephant

New Avengers 58 (Marvel)

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It kind of bugs me when the cover of a comic has little or nothing to do with the contents. However, it bugs me a whole lot less when the comic in question is constructed entirely of awesome. While this tale has dragged a bit over the last few issues here we get a rapid flurry of both emotional and literal blows all rendered in blistering style by Stuart Immonen. Zoo rating: Rhino.

The Incredible Hercules 137 (Marvel)

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When the Incredible Hulk became the Incredible Hercules a few years ago I didn’t have very high hopes. In fact I don’t think I had any hopes. I mean, it’s Hercules. Who really cares? Luckily for me my rather lackadaisical approach to updating my standing order meant I started reading it anyway. Now I care an awful lot, because Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak have done a mesmerizing job in finding a place in the Marvel Universe for Herc and his accomplice, orphaned teenage genius Amadeus Cho. This issue see’ the conclusion of Amadeus’s solo quest to find his sister. As well as being dark, funny and touching you really believe in Cho’s intellect, which makes this story of dueling geniuses a belter. Possibly not quite as good as the previous issue, which involved Hercules getting kicked in the walnuts by Thor, but a great comic nonetheless. If you like the oh so special combination of pictures and word balloons you really should be reading this. Zoo rating: Lion (of Olympus)

Abe Sapien: The Haunted Boy 1 (Dark Horse)

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Dark Horse is currently running a series of self contained one shots of their most popular characters. The idea seems to be as an antidote to crossovers and six issue story arcs, which I rather like as a concept. Sadly the execution here is lacking. Anyone who is familiar with the Hellboy universe will recognize the beats of the story so it feels like a repeat. Furthermore the issue is so self contained it becomes inconsequential. That said the art is suitably haunting and if you aren’t familiar with these characters it’s not a bad yarn. One for the newcomers then.  Zoo rating: Coyote

Wolverine: Weapon X 6 (Marvel)

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Wolverine’s not Wolverine. He is in fact a crazy guy in an asylum who just thinks he was Wolverine. Can’t help think that I have seen this all before. Quite a few times. Worse still, its part one of five, so that’s another 4 months of goings on before the inevitable moment when Wolverine realizes he is in fact Wolverine after all. Add to that rather drab art and coloring and I am not encouraged. Zoo rating: Gift Shop.

All in all a good week. Don’t feed the animals…

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Every week (more or less) our devastatingly handsome comic reviewer Paul Duggan gives us the lowdown on comics that have inspired, amused, bored or downright annoyed him. These comics are taken from Paul’s personal purchase pile, which tends to meander over Marvel, Vertigo, Dark Horse and IDW titles. If you think there is a comic that Paul really should review, please contact him at bestfirst_@hotmail.com. He lives in Manchester, where the local people lay fruit at his feet so that he may bless them with clement weather.