02nd Jul2013

Panel Discussion #012 with Jack and Mark

by Mark Allen


Hey guys, Mark here. As my comics addiction turned much more literal last week and I ended up buying 10 new books at the store (along with attempting to inject Hawkeye pages into my bloodstream with my trusty [hip drug] needle, which is EXACTLY as hard as it sounds), I decided to go for brevity and cut my contributions down to the barest of bones.

To wit: 10 words apiece. Yeah, I’m kind of a critical maverick.

26th June


X-Men #2, Brian Wood, Olivier Coipel, Marvel Comics

I enjoyed last month’s first issue in the new X-Men series and this second book continues at a similarly breakneck pace. Psychic bacteria alien thing Arkea has busted into the X-house and is causing all kinds of trouble by possessing Karima Shapandar, the Omega Sentinel. This didn’t mean much to me, but what impresses me about X-Men is that unlike many books (say, Age of Ultron, for example), it’s written sympathetically for both n00bs and those who know their Marvel lore better than they do their own grandmothers.

Turns out, the Omega Sentinel is like a totally badass cyborg lady whose arms can turn into guns. Which means that if she’s possessed by a nasty psychic alien bacteria thing, it isn’t good. What is good, is this comic (that segue was pretty good too, eh?). You get some fun fighting, some decent dialogue and some really nice artwork. It really does look great; slick but with a slightly sketchy sensibility. The action is pitched in a manner that allows the characters a little room to breathe, which is nice. There’s a nice little moment with Jubilee and her newly acquired baby-child, an example of the enjoyable things in the book that don’t involve people punching each other in the face.

As I mentioned previously, this is the second of a three issue initial arc. I find this brevity attractive. I’ll definitely be picking up issue three and will make a decision whether to continue after that. It’s a good book and I am enjoying it, though there’s a chance it might be just a little too slight to really invest in. Still, not everything needs to be of staggering importance and X-Men is proving to be quite fresh and fun.

Mark’s Take: Beast’s dumb makeover isn’t enough to ruin a fine issue.

Five Ghosts #4, Frank J. Barbiere, Chris Mooneyham, Image Comics

The penultimate issue of this pleasingly pulp series sees our troubled hero being tested in a dream world by the five archetypal literary figures whose powers he has been calling upon. That’s a good sentence isn’t it? Whilst Fabian is having his psychological battle/nap, his travelling companions are busy being beaten up by a dude on a big dragon. Sucks to be them.

Much of this issue is presented without dialogue, giving you more opportunity to soak up Mooneyham’s really lovely artwork. Fabian being set upon by a horde of rats is a particularly striking image, amongst several others. The tests that we see in this issue aren’t quite as elaborate or uh, testing as you might expect, but it’s the romance of being caught in the story that’s one of the prevailing themes of the book and as such, it more than manages to engage and thrill. I’m really looking forward to next month’s conclusion, though based and the fairly impressive feedback the book’s received, I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t the last we see of the title. It certainly won’t be the last we hear of Barbiere.  It may be slight over-praise, but as one particularly effusive reader puts it on the letters page, he may well ‘be writing all that corporate shit you currently think is good’ in a couple of years’ time.

Batman Superman #1, Greg Pak, Jae Lee, DC Comics

Coincidently, DC has chosen to launch a new book with Superman in it shortly after the release of a film with Superman in it too. Maybe some people that see the film and like it will want to see more of Superman and consequently buy this book because it’s a number one and it’s also got Batman on it and a lot of people like him too. If that happens, then DC will get loads of money all at once. It’s almost as if they’ve planned it.

The book itself is kind of okay. It’s a bit tricky to ascertain exactly where it fits into the New 52 continuity, being the tale of Batman and Superman’s first meeting. Superman is wearing his jeans and rigger boots from what I understand are his New 52 early days but whether or not this slots during or after Batman’s Zero Year is unclear. To be honest, that’s not the most important issue is it?

The story is a bit daft; as is boringly standard, whenever two super-folk meet for the first time, they have to have a rumble. Superman could of course just kill Batman as soon as look at him, quite literally, so why the need for them to have a silly little non-fight exists, I don’t understand. Similarly we already know that Batman is brooding and intelligent and Superman is wholesome and not quite as smart, so anyone who’s read a crossover with these guys in it will be re-treading pretty familiar ground.

What is good about the book is Lee’s artwork, for which it’s almost worth the asking price anyway (almost – it’s a fairly slim issue for $3.99). It’s very gothic, does some lovely stuff with tree branches, makes creative use of framing and boasts some very impressive splash pages. It’s really nice. The plot itself isn’t rubbish, but if it can lose its hokiness and over-familiar beats, then this would be a much better book.

Oh and Morning Glories #28 came out too. Another double issue, more variant covers, more twists, more confusing stuff, still cool, you should still buy it.


Young Avengers #6, Kieron Gillen, Kate Brown, Marvel Comics

Guest Brown brings great physicality and chills to unfamiliar characters.

Hawkeye #11, Matt Fraction, David Aja, Marvel Comics

Blistering visual storytelling from Aja; formal experiments aplenty. THE BEST.

The Unwritten #50, Mike Carey, Peter Gross, Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham

Fables crossover spins us about, gloriously. A chunky, satisfying read.

The Wake #2, Scott Snyder, Sean Murphy, Vertigo

Time-jumping, info-dumping, Innsmouth vibes, Murphy rocks, mental ending.

FF #8, Matt Fraction, Michael Allred, Marvel Comics

Doom’s machinations revealed as fluffy yet entertaining filler issue unfolds.

Angel and Faith #23, Christos Gage, Rebekah Isaacs, Dark Horse

FIGHT BOOK; all else spoilers. Isaacs is better every issue.

Jupiter’s Legacy #2, Mark Millar, Frank Quitely, Image Comics

Millar occasionally overcomes hackiness. (Quietly still props his ass up.)

Prophet #36, Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, Giannis Milonogiannis (Backup ‘Care’ by Matt Sheean & Malachi Ward), Image Comics

Artists unite for most compelling issue in ages. Backup’s wonderful.

Lazarus #1, Greg Rucka, Michael Lark, Image Comics

Premiere hits sci-fi/noir premise out of the park. Moody.


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