Sean Elks's Comic Reviews

Reviewer For: Entertainment Fuse Reviews: 104
7.2Avg. Review Rating

3.8
Age of Apocalypse Vol.2 #1

Mar 13, 2012

The greatest flaw of Age of Apocalypse is that it tries unsuccessfully to be the Age of Apocalypse. That story is over, and Marvel has already squeezed more than every last drop of interesting material out of it. The idea of the X-Terminated would work vastly better in an new alternate universe, free from all the baggage of continuity and free to use characters readers would be more interested in seeing. The nostalgic value of the title does little to help and definitely doesn't work effectively enough to be the main selling point. The book reads like a series the creators are half-heartedly struggling through, and I can't honestly blame them. The X-Terminated are a good idea being forced into the wrong setting, and this is no Age of Apocalypse.

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8.6
Amazing Spider-Man #682

Mar 23, 2012

But seriously, get Caselli on an Avengers book.

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8.9
American Vampire #28

Jun 30, 2012

I don't know if this new story arc, the Blacklist, will be my new favorite American Vampire story arc, but this opening issue gives me every indication that will be an interesting new chapter of the series' story. Just the idea of vampire hunting running parallel to McCarthyism alone would do it for me, but this is also the story that reunites Pearl and Skinner after the latter was apparently killed by the former. With as much going on as this story arc seems to have, I wouldn't bet against the Blacklist turning out to be one of American Vampire's better chapters.

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9.7
American Vampire #34

Jan 8, 2013

Consider this a quiet season finale for American Vampire. The series isn't over, but we will have to wait months before getting new stories. I do wish the big teaser spread in this issue gave a little more meat to speculate on, but it's not like there isn't plenty of fun stuff to wonder about while waiting. Is that who I think it is in Abilena's basement? What could the Gray Trader be? What will the Vassals of the Morningstar be like when it's rebuilt with its new director? Where will Skinner Sweet and Pearl Jones end up now? Is this going to be the last appearance of Abilena Book? The "next season" of American Vampire really can't get here soon enough.

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8.6
Aquaman (2011) #6

Feb 24, 2012

Mera could have been launched a couple years ago as one of DC's leadng ladies, but that didn't happen. That makes this the best readers are going to get with her. Yes, she is now just the title character's wife, but she is still a strong and compelling character when given the chance, as she is in this issue. Aquaman continues to be one of the better books out of DC's New 52, and it just may be my favorite out of Geoff Johns' current stable of titles.

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7.9
Avengers (2010) #28

Jul 31, 2012

It's a simple issue and unlikely to be an important part of the overall Avengers Vs. X-Men event. But at the same time, it's a pretty good issue. Bendis keys in on a cast member of Avengers that has gotten the short end of the stick for most of the series so far and shows a really solid grasp of that character. For Hulk fans, this is definitely one worth reading. I hope Bendis continues with similar character-centric tie-in issues, because they're honestly the best parts of these prolonged events.

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8.1
Avengers Assemble #9

Nov 17, 2012

DeConnick and Caselli deserve better than a book with an ambiguous point overshadowed by Marvel NOW! relaunches. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed this issue more than any I read of Bendis' previous issues on Avengers Assemble. But I can't help feeling this isn't really an ideal use of all the talent involved.

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7.8
AVX: Consequences #5

Nov 10, 2012

AVX: Consequence is not a terribly exciting series, but it has been a more interesting one than the event it spins out from. In more ways, it's actually a conclusion to Gillen's Uncanny X-Men run, which could have been so much more if Marvel gave him the free reign and time to play with it. Cyclops has been positioned in an even more dark and questionable role than before, and I hope Brian Michael Bendis doesn't plan on overplaying it in the new Uncanny X-Men series.

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7.1
Batman: Earth One #1

Jul 13, 2012

I come away from Batman: Earth One with two impressions. One is that I wish this version of Alfred Pennyworth should be the primary version of the character. It really is such an enhanced take on the character. Second is that Geoff Johns and Gary Frank are good creators who are not well-suited for Batman. He's just not the ideal character for either of them. I've already said how Frank's style doesn't mesh with Batman. With Johns, give him Aquaman, Booster Gold, Green Lantern or the Justice Society and he will work magic that redefines all the characters involved. Give him Batman, and he'll give you an unremarkable origin story that borrows from Batman: Year One and the movies more than it explores any new or interesting ground.

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8.2
Batman: The Dark Knight (2011) #9

May 28, 2012

A good issue from a book written by a writer and drawn by an artist. Who'd have guessed? Maybe DC should try it more often.

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3.9
Battle Scars #6

Apr 27, 2012

While competently written and illustrated, Battle Scars is, in its essence, creatively bankrupt and insulting to the intelligence of the fans. Marcus Johnson could be an interesting character in his own right if he was a character in his own right. But he's not, is he? He's a forced attempt at marketing synergy. His purpose is solely to supplant an already popular character. It's disrespectful to both the current readers and the hypothetical readers Marvel hopes to gain from the Avengers movie.

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5.2
Batwing #0

Sep 11, 2012

If this week is any indication, DC's Zero Month is going to be rough.

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9.2
Batwing #6

Feb 8, 2012

Few DC titles can currently hold a candle to Batwing when it comes to achieving the goals of the New 52. This is something new. This is something intelligent, relevant and diverse. Batwing doesn't just introduce a new character but a largely untapped region of the DC Universe. More importantly, Batwing does it well.

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8.4
Batwing #8

Apr 5, 2012

With eight issues now released, I can't really say that Batwing is one of the best surprise hits of the New 52 anymore. It's no longer a surprise and has moved into the realm of being one of DC's consistently best books. With Static Shock, Mr. Terrific and -- let's be honest -- Voodoo all failing, Batwing stands as DC's only quality attempt to push a non-white character as a series' lead. I know that's harsh to say, but is anyone going to honestly argue the case for those other books? Judd Winick and everyone else behind Batwing have something to be proud of here, and I hope to be able to review this book for a long time.

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7.7
Batwing #9

May 4, 2012

Batwing's tie-in to Night of the Owls is a light on substance, but it does make for an entertaining issue of action. Like I've said, I can forgive an arbitrary tie-in so long as it still entertains me. This one succeeds on that score. I would have liked a more fleshed out Talon and someone other than Lucius for Batwing to interact with. But the action between Talon and Batwing makes for a fun read. While this isn't the strongest issue of the series, it's still a good one.

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9.3
Batwing #11

Jul 8, 2012

Far as I'm concerned, this is business as usual for Batwing. Not many of DC's titles have stayed as consistently good as this one has, and Winick has found his winning formula for the book. He has found the balance of portraying Batwing as a member of the Batman family but also as our leading hero of Africa. Meanwhile, To has come in and made himself at home in the series without disrupting the flow of the book. I understand Winick will be leaving Catwoman and writing a creator-owned graphic novel. I hope that has no effect on Batwing, because I want to see him here for the foreseeable future.

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6.1
Batwing #15

Dec 9, 2012

DC's handling of this creative team transition doesn't bode well for the future of Batwing. Fabian Nicieza and Fabrizio Fiorentino don't get to have a proper debut issue, and as a result, we end up getting a rushed and unimpressive first issue from the two. It would be easy for someone to read this and decide the loss of Judd Winick is enough to stop reading. However, I think I'll try to give Nicieza the benefit of the doubt on this one. I like this character and the world that's been created about him. I also know Nicieza is capable of some really good stories. The least I can do is wait this out to see what he can do when he gets to tell a story of his own.

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4.8
Batwing #16

Jan 13, 2013

Despite all of my criticisms, Batwing by Fabian Nicieza isn't necessarily poor or wrong. Its major flaw is mainly that it fails to impress. Batwing has been an impressive book since the New 52 began. I've honestly argued it was one of the most impressive of that starting lineup. But now, some of those qualities that made it so impressive are absent and aren't replaced by anything that makes up for their loss.

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5.7
Batwing #19

Apr 6, 2013

The increased "Batman-ification" of Batwing may be just enough to keep its head above water sales-wise, but it seems like we're trading off one of the more unique and interesting stars of the New 52 for a character with much less to offer.

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6.3
Batwing #20

May 5, 2013

Batwing is a decent enough action book, but it fails to stand out in the crowd of other Batman titles. Luke Fox is borrowing characteristics from other Bat-characters rather than developing any of his own, and he's being oversold as the one true Batwing. I guess it's nice that DC Comics is trying to keep a prominent black character in Batman's franchise, but so far, Luke Fox comes off as a major step down from David Zavimbe.

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7.9
Cable and X-Force #7

Apr 21, 2013

Regardless, Cable and X-Force is a damn entertaining book. Hopeless has found an unlikely chemistry in the cast, helped along by having a really good grasp on all the characters involved. Yes, Cyclops' appearance is a letdown. But hopefully, Hopeless means it when he has Cyclops say they will talk for real soon.

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9.1
Captain America (2011) #11

May 12, 2012

This issue of Captain America brings my attention back to the series. It was really losing me for awhile, but this is a great return to the kind of Captain America stories Brubaker excels with. Personally, I love the return of Diamondback to Cap's book. The idea of a witness protection program in the Marvel Universe is something that is just immediately interesting and makes me want to read more about. The mystery of who this Scourge is also grabs my interest. I somehow doubt it's going to turn out to be Jack Monroe again, though.

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6.8
Captain America (2012) #1

Nov 24, 2012

Typically, the science fiction with Captain America has worked best when it is grounded and restrained. This isn't Iron Man or the Fantastic Four we're talking about. This is Captain America. To me, it's like a writer deciding that their Daredevil run is going to be all about the supernatural. Yeah, there have been those elements in the past, but it's never really been at the core of what the character is about. So in trying so hard to be different from Ed Brubaker's take, Rick Remender has basically made this into a Captain America different from what I care to read.

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8.1
Cobra #10

Mar 6, 2012

While Cobra is getting into some familiar territory with another internal conflict within the organization, it does so in a way that makes so much story sense that it is hard to argue with. The characters feel real, and that makes their actions believable and compelling. Somehow, it even bypasses the usual problems with reading a series starring the villains. While I don't really sympathize with any of the characters, I do feel like I understand them. That's enough to keep me more than interested. IDW continues to handle this franchise in a way that's intelligent and entertaining. I just don't suggest jumping right into any one series just yet. Either go back to the beginning of Cobra Command or wait until it's over.

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6.8
Cobra #13

May 29, 2012

This issue of Cobra is all setup for the new status quo, and unfortunately, it leaves me with more concerns about it than enthusiasm for it. The art struggles to hold my attention. The addition of a seemiingnly cliched character like Ronin to the cast is a drawback. The new premise feels like a stretch for a book titled Cobra. Normally with all these factors, I would strongly consider not reading any more. Fortunately, it ends on a very interesting note that gives me some optimism for the book's potentialy. Also, Costa's excellent writing so far earns him more of a chance to win me over.

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8.3
Cobra #14

Jun 15, 2012

So Cobra is Cobra again. Plus, Costa shows that the book is not going to lose its strong sense of character development. My doubts on the new direction have been put to rest by this issue.

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7.3
Earth 2 #5

Oct 6, 2012

An excellent cliffhanger ending helps Earth 2 retain some of its momentum. Still, Robinson's handling of dialogue leaves much to be desired, and this issue doesn't provide enough new developments to distract from that common flaw. Doing all this at the same time of Rotworld casts a shadow over it as well, making this one of the weaker issues of what still at least remains a good series.

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8.3
Earth 2 #6

Nov 10, 2012

Despite some criticisms, I still find Earth 2 to be one of the New 52's more refreshing titles. It is trying to be new and inventive, and it's doing so without making anything totally unrecognizable from what we had before. I'm glad the Grundy story has been brought to a quick end. It didn't overstay its welcome. Now, Earth 2 can move on with developing this new world.

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9.5
Earth 2 #7

Dec 9, 2012

Earth 2 was getting on somewhat shaky ground with me as the Grundy plot went on, but this issue really pulls everything back together. This is one of the finest books of DC's New 52. Unlike most of those books, it is actually trying to do things that are new, diverse and modern rather than grasping to recreate the Silver Age or Golden Age. That's really evident in this issue as Robinson and Cinar take the time to look around the new world they are playing in.

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6.4
Earth 2 #10

Mar 9, 2013

The first part of Earth 2's new Tower of Fate story arc is solid but nothing spectacular. It comes with a lot of explanation but not much entertainment. All hope is truly lost when you count on Flash to carry a story. Still, I am excited about Khalid Ben-Hassin, soon to be the new Dr. Fate. And the brewing team-up between Green Lantern and Hawkgirl is brief but overall a more effective beginning to a story.

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7.0
Earth 2 #11

Apr 9, 2013

The continuing origin of Earth 2's Dr. Fate struggles with the forces melodrama of Jay Garrick's big hero moment, and the WTF promised appearance of Mr. Miracle really isn't anything more than you already get on the cover. Actually, the cover also undermines Khalid's transformation into Dr. Fate as well, since you already get to see it before opening the book. This really isn't a strong chapter of the story.

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7.8
Earth 2 #12

May 5, 2013

"Tower of Fate" had its problems, but it gives us a good conclusion and a strong new take on Doctor Fate here. The Green Lantern side plot could have been better developed. Still, it pays off well enough and sets us up with a greater conflict coming next. Now that Doctor Fate has been introduced and Flash got his little hero moment, I'm looking forward to hopefully seeing other characters get the Earth 2 spotlight for awhile.

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8.7
Earth 2 Annual #1

May 31, 2013

Earth 2 Annual is a bittersweet issue. It continues the strong world-building that has been happening since Earth 2 began, debuting new characters and adding to the variety that is the book's strength. However, all of this happens under the shadow of the news James Robinson is leaving this and DC Comics at large in a few months. Robinson is setting up many interesting things for the future, but it's now an uncertain future when we don't yet even know what writer will be taking over for him. But if this issue is any indication of how Robinson's final story arc will be, at least we know he will probably end his run on a strong note.

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6.6
G.I. Joe (2013) #1

Feb 23, 2013

For what it's trying to be, the new G.I. Joe is a good self-aware take on property stemming back to its cartoon days. It's a group of real soldiers being pushed into the roles of superhero-style celebrities while they are trying to fight a terrorist organization. This makes for an interesting new take on the G.I. Joe concept. That said, it differs significantly with the take that IDW has established thus far. It's not a natural or satisfying development of what has been done so far, and as someone who was drawn into reading these G.I. Joe comics because of the grounded realism, I'm left uninterested by IDW's new G.I. Joe.

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7.3
Gambit #1

Aug 11, 2012

Despite the flaws, I come out of this issue feeling like Gambit is on the right track. Asmus is writing Remy Lebeau as he should be written. A thief, a scoundrel, an accidental superhero at best. The issue even ends on a note that suggests the series will end up being driven more by Gambit's self-interests than anything else. Yes. Ideally, this series will be enough of a success that Gambit can be pulled entirely from the X-Men's active lineup and be allowed to stand on his own as the character he has always claimed to be -- a thief who can do heroic things but would rather not.

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6.4
Green Arrow (2011) #17

Feb 9, 2013

The old status quo of Green Arrow is gone, and that is an automatic improvement for the series even if it is accomplished in a kind of cheap and dirty way. However, it remains to be seen if the incoming status quo will actually be much better. This isn't a return to the elements that used to work well for Oliver Queen. It's the introduction of a new island-oriented mythology that could prove as overbearing as the previous "CEO obsessed with trick arrows" one. There's definitely reason to be optimistic about Lemire's takeover of Green Arrow, but that optimism has to be cautious.

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4.1
Green Lantern (2011) #0

Sep 10, 2012

I do wish I had better to say about this issue of Green Lantern. It fails as a zero issue by virtue of it not even trying to be one. The potential of Simon Baz is buried under a suspected terrorist angle that really makes no attempt to be unique from the billion other times this has been done. That's without even factoring in how disappointing it is for DC to link their high profile Arab-American character to terrorism at all. What little of the character is allowed to shine through does little to justify him as a new Green Lantern in a cast of Green Lanterns that is already too overcrowded in the context of the New 52. Aside from some quality art by Doug Mahnke, this issue falls short in every respect.

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7.4
Green Lantern (2011) #17

Feb 23, 2013

The first impression of Wrath of the First Lantern I get here is that this is going to neither be Johns' best arc or his worst. The worst was Rise of the Third Army, which was so underwhelming that I don't even feel right referring to it as a legit story arc. Volthoom's whole life constellation gimmick should make for an excellent way for Johns to say his goodbyes to these characters. Seriously. I can't be the only one looking forward to seeing Volthoom dig into Sinestro's.

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6.8
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #17

Feb 24, 2013

The second part of Wrath of the First Lantern is a solid character study of Guy Gardner, revealing a key part of his new history and packing some emotional weight. It does unfortunately start to fall apart as the issue goes on due to Tomasi going more and more over the top when he would have been better off keeping things restrained and personal.

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3.7
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #18

Mar 17, 2013

And as I said, that sums up this issue of Green Lantern Corps perfectly. There's just no real effort being made to do John Stewart justice. It's not like he's lacking in the history department. Xanshi, Mosaic, being wheelchair bound, going Darkstar, killing Mogo, etc. Tomasi barely uses any of this material, and rather than give any fully developed scenes, he presents everything in stilted bulletpoints. This issue has the emotional and dramatic weight of styrofoam, and that's especially frustrating when dealing with a character who rarely gets this kind of spotlight.

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9.1
Green Lantern: New Guardians #5

Jan 30, 2012

Green Lantern: New Guardians has become my new favorite Green Lantern series. While I'm not sold on this new villain, the cast and Tony Bedard's strong grasp of their characters really succeed at winning me over. Tyler Kirkham keeps the pages looking great as well, even if I have problems with some of his design choices. This is turning out to be an excellent series that feels like it is genuinely trying to inject something new into the franchise while still working within the confines of the mythology DC has established these past few years.

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6.9
Green Lantern: New Guardians #17

Feb 24, 2013

For the second time, Wrath of the First Lantern disappoints when it comes to taking a look at a character's New 52 history in a way that really does anything to sort out the confusion or fill the gaps. Inconsistencies or holes are just glossed over or danced around, being put off to be some other writer's problem down the road. But the rest of the issue holds up well as Bedard has Volthoom put Kyle through the emotional wringer while still allowing Kyle his own unique gift for resisting the full effects.

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7.2
Green Lantern: New Guardians #18

Mar 24, 2013

Green Lantern: New Guardians gives us the strongest chapter of Wrath of the First Lantern so far, but it's a shame that it stars the side characters rather than the main players of the franchise. For the first time, I'm not looking down on Carol Ferris. Larfleeze isn't played primarily for comedy for once. And we get to see Saint Walker as a Green Lantern, though with a disappointing effort from the art. Sure, Wrath of the First Lantern is being exposed as far more of a gimmick than a real story, but at least that gimmick gives us some good character beats in this issue.

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7.3
Guardians of the Galaxy (2013) #1

Mar 29, 2013

Bendis and McNivens first issue of Guardians of the Galaxy isnt likely to blow anyone away, but it does present a strong premise for the new series. Star-Lord, with his new emphasis on his campy backstory, surprisingly comes off well thanks to Bendis focusing more on the father/son relationship than anything else. However, the rest of the cast really could have used more attention. Someone also needs to get McNiven to broaden his perspective on science fiction so we can get some better character designs out of him than this.

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9.6
Indestructible Hulk #1

Nov 24, 2012

Indestructible Hulk ranks up there with Thor: God of Thunder as one of the stars of Marvel NOW!. Waid doesn't just hit on a winning concept here. He and Yu nail it in the execution as well. They manage something that's new but also feels perfectly natural for the character. It's also a new status quo that allows Banner to play just as much of a role in things as the Hulk, if not more.

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7.2
Justice League #7

Mar 22, 2012

Next month features Green Arrow looking to join the team for the first time, which only makes me wonder even more if the Justice League has done anything at all in the past five years.

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6.2
Justice League #8

Apr 20, 2012

Justice League is meant to be the flagship title of the New 52, so it's a real shame that I've found it to be consistently underwhelming when it comes to developing this new universe. For every new interesting element it introduces, it seems like it tears out several others. We have a compelling new dynamic between the Martian Manhunter and the Justice League, but as a result, we now have many DC characters who no longer have ANY dynamics in relation to the Justice League. There's potential in a new animosity between Aquaman and Green Arrow, but we no longer have a friendship between Hal and Ollie and quite possibly no romance between Ollie and Dinah. That's just from this issue. It's not a new feeling when it comes to reading this series. Justice League can be an interesting and entertaining book. But when it comes right down to it, I never feel like I'm getting a fair trade from it.

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7.3
Justice League #11

Jul 21, 2012

This is just another issue of Justice League. If you've been reading it thus far, you know exactly what to expect, and it doesn't disappoint in that regard at least. It's good issue of the series, which has been fairly consistent in its quality. What perhaps makes it a bit better than usual is the Wonder Woman/Steve Trevor relationship becoming such a major factor. But what may balance that out negatively is the lack fo new material for readers to really enjoy. It's good, but Johns is capable of better. Sadly, it doesn't read like he's really bringing his A-game to Justice League. Good thing his B-game isn't bad.

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8.4
Justice League #12

Aug 31, 2012

There you have it. The big Wonder Woman/Superman hook-up has happened, and it is... confusing in some ways. Has Geoff Johns found a way to make this pairing interesting by portraying it as a bad thing for all involved? I do kind of hope so, because the alternative makes me sleepy. Still, this is possibly the strongest issue of the series so far even beyond the big lip lock. We have the defeat of a new villain who actually does turn out to be interesting and unique in his own right. We have characters interacting with each other with some actual substance fitting their personalities. It may have taken a year to get to this point, but Johns finally seems ready to take this book to some interesting places.

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3.6
Katana #1

Feb 15, 2013

Look, this is not how it should be done. Katana is not an unheard of character, but she is fairly obscure in the grand scheme of things. The first issue of her solo series needs to be an introduction. It should not read like I've been dropped into the middle of some convoluted story with a character who is a stranger to me. It also shouldn't be riddled with cliches that a more modern take on the character should be trying to grow away from. I'll admit to never being much of a Katana fan. But after reading this issue, I'm even less interested in the character.

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8.6
New Avengers (2010) #29

Aug 10, 2012

New Avengers gives us another entertaining, character-centric tie-in issue by dipping into the Illuminati well. Seriously, every event should get a tie-in issue of the Illuminati meeting and talking about it. I swear, this just doesn't get old for me. It's the kind of issue that plays directly to Bendis' strengths of dialogue and character interactions. This isn't terribly important to the event at large but well worth reading for those following Avengers Vs. X-Men.

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6.5
New Avengers (2010) #30

Sep 18, 2012

New Avengers entertains but not as much as it frustrates. The book can't escape Marvel's severe mishandling of the conflict between the Avengers and the X-Men, and what Bendis is teasing for Luke Cage is by far the most disappointing of all possible outcomes for the character. I know there's no salvaging Avengers Vs. X-Men, but I can only hope Bendis reverses course with Luke Cage in the few issues he has left on this series.

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9.6
Nightwing (2011) #0

Sep 21, 2012

Nightwing is a refreshing change of pace for what has overall been a lackluster string of zero issues. Sure, it makes the mess of Batman's ridiculously condensed timeline harder to ignore, but it has everything else going for it. This is a retelling of Dick Grayson's origin that has been updated in reasonable and interesting ways. It's a sadly uncommon approach to take with the New 52.

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9.5
Powers: Bureau #1

Feb 15, 2013

Powers: Bureau is a welcome return to the universe Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming created. While it has changed from the status quo that has carried it for so many years, it's a change that feels like the natural evolution of the series and one that doesn't change the important aspects that have made Powers so enjoyable all this time. It's still a world of mortal law enforcement trying to cope in a world full of superhumans, aliens and gods. It's still hilariously twisted in its way. And most importantly, Deena is still Deena.

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9.9
Punisher (2011) #16

Oct 2, 2012

Punisher ends on a powerful note and a compelling setup for the upcoming Punisher: War Zone limited series. Rucka succeeded at creating an interesting little world for the Punisher in the Marvel Universe, complete with three-dimensional characters who meshed perfectly as a cast. Far as I'm concerned, this series should now be considered essential reading for the Punisher.

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8.1
Punisher: War Zone #1

Oct 27, 2012

The first issue of Punisher: War Zone sets up the conflict between Punisher and the Avengers in an intelligent way. There's no wondering why it hasn't really happened before since we have Spider-Man using his relatively new role on the team to bring it about. The Avengers' individual reactions tell the whole story in an understated way about why they've never bothered to do it before. This may not be one of the more high profile Avengers-related stories lately, but it has the potential to be the most interesting.

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9.2
Punisher: War Zone #3

Jan 13, 2013

I really do wish Greg Rucka's Punisher series sold better so that it could have continued indefinitely, but if it had to end, Punisher: War Zone is turning out to be an excellent conclusion to what was really one of the best Punisher runs. It is also showing off what a strong grasp Rucka seems to have of various Marvel characters, making it even worse that this is going to be his last work with Marvel for the foreseeable future.

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8.9
Punisher: War Zone #4

Feb 3, 2013

The stage is set for the Punisher: War Zone's big finale. Yeah, Daniel Way's less than awesome Thunderbolts has basically spoiled that nothing of any consequence happens to Frank Castle as a result of all this. But I know I'm personally happy to ignore all that and just enjoy where this story is going. What's coming is the conclusion to one of the best Punisher runs I've ever read.

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9.7
Punisher: War Zone #5

Mar 3, 2013

Regardless of how poorly Marvel has managed the surrounding factors, this remains an excellent ending to Punisher: War Zone and to Greg Rucka's overall run with the character. I will be pissed if this all never gets collected into an omnibus, because it unquestionably deserves to be. This has easily been one of the all-time best runs for the Punisher, rivalled only by Garth Ennis' long and expansive tenure with the character. It should be required reading for anyone with even the remotest interest in the Punisher.

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5.1
Red Hood And The Outlaws #0

Sep 21, 2012

When it comes right down to it, Red Hood and the Outlaw's zero issue isn't as bad as I thought it would be. I know that's not really praise, but it is honesty. I'm really just glad Lobdell didn't break anything and didn't force the All-Caste any deeper into Jason's story. The Joker thing is absolutely ridiculous, but it's unobtrusive enough that it can be ignored and hopefully will be by future writers. But what really limits this issue is the summarizing nature of it. Lobdell had some really interesting stuff he could have played with here had he just brought better focus to it.

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5.8
Red Hood And The Outlaws #5

Jan 19, 2012

Red Hood and the Outlaws needs to wrap up this All-Caste story soon and move on without looking back. It could be a great team book, but this out of place plot is seriously holding back its potential. This is just not the book or the cast for cliched fantasy story plots. The All-Caste reads like a generic secret order, and the Untitled come off as no better in regard to feeling like a concept we have all seen many times before. More importantly, neither fit with Jason Todd's character. Hopefully, Lobdell gets this out of his system by the time the series is set to tie in with the upcoming Batman event, so that when it returns from that, we can get stories more suitable to the cast.

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6.1
Red Hood And The Outlaws #6

Feb 17, 2012

This issue of Red Hood and the Outlaws is better than the last, but it struggles with itself. It benefits from having a very compelling premise for Red Hood and Starfire's connection and from almost completely ignoring the Untitled plot. But the fact that Lobdell only plotted this really shows. Williamson is just not able to pull it off. All the emotion and sentiment comes off as artificial, and the flashbacks really are rather pitiful. The series is getting on the right track. It just needs to be written by its writer.

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7.7
Red Hood And The Outlaws #8

Apr 23, 2012

This issue of Red Hood and the Outlaws confirms what I've been saying about the series for a few months now. It gets better the more the story focuses on the characters. It gets dragged down whenever it focuses on the plot. Lobdell has a great cast of characters and nails a really compelling dynamic between them. But his ongoing plot about a secret society and an ancient evil sticks out like a sore thumb in this dynamic. I look forward to the upcoming tie-in with Night of the Owls, because it should mean a break from the All-Caste. It's also a return for Jason Todd to the part of the DC Universe he belongs.

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7.8
Red Hood And The Outlaws #9

May 18, 2012

Red Hood and the Outlaws gives a pretty solid entry to the Night of the Owls event. No, it isn't crucial reading for the event, but almost none of these tie-ins honestly are. The common ground between Red Hood and the Talon does make this one of the more interesting and substantial Talon confrontations in the event so far, though. The downside of this issue is that Lobdell lets the potentially interesting presences of Mr. Freeze and Batgirl go to waste. This issue had the potential to be a lot better than it is, but what it is really isn't bad.

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6.2
Red Hood And The Outlaws #10

Jun 24, 2012

On that note, the September solicitation saying that it will reveal how Jason Todd returned from the dead horrifies me because I worry Lobdell will use it to tie Jason permanently to the All-Caste and Untitled. Juat ditch the Superboy punch and use a Lazarus Pit. Seriously. How hard is this? Why complicate it with unrelated plot elements? Try to remember you're writing a Bat-character and ditch the League of Assassins knock-offs.

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6.8
Red Hood And The Outlaws #12

Aug 18, 2012

So, Red Hood and the Outlaws has reached its twelfth issue, giving us a full year of the series. It was one of the legitimately new titles of the New 52, and I have to say it is a good addition to DC's lineup. Grouping together Red Hood, Arsenal and Starfire as a pseudo-team bonded by their own damaged souls is a really great concept, and Lobdell has shown that several times. However, I also think it would be best for Red Hood and the Outlaws to get a new creative team. It's strange how Lobdell seems to have a fairly good handle on how well the characters work together yet the stories he's interested in telling are all wrong for them.

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5.7
Red Hood And The Outlaws #13

Oct 19, 2012

This space story in Red Hood and the Outlaws has been good for Starfire's character but not really anything else. It does feel like Starfire now has the making of a three-dimensional character, and I'll be honest... that's something I've rarely felt about the character even before the New 52. Besides that, Lobdell serves up some very weak science fiction and misses the mark with his new take on Komand'r. I find myself think that it could have been worse but it also could have been better.

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4.2
Red Hood And The Outlaws #14

Nov 24, 2012

This issue of Red Hood and the Outlaws is a victim of lazy writing. Every indication here suggests that Superman's appearance and the tie-in to Death of the Family was thrown together at the last minute with little thought put into it. It's an issue struggling to hold itself together on just a superficial level, and that is a real shame. Superman's shoe-horned role cheats us from having a far more relevant scene of Starfire saying goodbye to her former crew. And the sloppy rush toward Death of the Family cheats us from having... well... a good lead in to the Joker's return.

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6.4
Red Hood And The Outlaws #18

Mar 24, 2013

Lobdell gets the emotion right in this Death of the Family aftermath. Also, the small assurance that Jason's injury isn't meant to be permanent is a relief, because having the Joker scar him like that permanently would just have been lame and unnecessary. But hopefully, either Lobdell or Justin Jordan will veer the character off this path of getting along with the Bat-family soon, because that only leads toward making Jason a boring and redundant character in the DC Universe.

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4.7
Red Hood And The Outlaws #19

Apr 21, 2013

It looks like my abusive relationship with Red Hood and the Outlaws will continue on for awhile. Rather than bringing in a new and better vision, James Tynion IV is channeling Scott Lobell as the Outlaws follow Red Hood to the hidden city of K'un L'un... I mean Shangri La... wait maybe Nanda Parbat... I guess it's the Acres of All. Anyway, Tynion has them go there to catch up with Jason as he makes a bargain with the Hand... I mean the League of Assassins... the Ancient One maybe? Oh, screw it. They go to the overused cliche place with the overused cliche people. It's a bland execution of a poorly thought out premise.

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5.6
Red Hood And The Outlaws Annual #1

May 31, 2013

Red Hood and the Outlaws Annual has as a good plot to it but loses points for the strained and weak alterations to some of the characters. What Jason is putting himself through is out of character, and the New 52 version of Roy really isn't turning out to be an improvement. There's hope for Jason to come out of this intact. However, the fundamental changes to Roy may be too much to ever really fix without another continuity revamp.

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8.2
Scarlet Spider #1

Jan 12, 2012

Scarlet Spider gets off to a strong start. It definitely has some kinks to work out, but both the premise and the character work extremely well together as a worthy and unique addition to the Spider-Man franchise. All the book really needs is for Yost to make sure to lean more toward anti-hero than hero with Kaine and an artist with a style more suited to its darker and more violent tone. There is a lot of potential here for Scarlet Spider to have its own unique presence in the Marvel Universe, and I have little doubt that Yost, one of the writers of X-Force, will be able to pull it off.

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8.6
Scarlet Spider #3

Mar 15, 2012

Given my low opinion of the Spider-Man franchise at the moment, I realize that declaring Scarlet Spider as my favorite spider book isn't saying a whole lot. I do truly enjoy this series, though. It could stand some more appropriate art and to not play it quite so safe with Kaine's darkness, but it does a lot right. I never imagined I would find Houston such an interesting setting for a book, and I am really becoming sold on the idea of Kaine as the new Scarlet Spider.

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5.6
Scarlet Spider #5

May 12, 2012

This is a really disappointing issue of Scarlet Spider. It's not awful. It's not broken. It is just badly mediocre. Nothing is done to explain or make the canned plot of a loose nuke in the city interesting. The tactics Kaine employs to chase down the bomb honestly come off as boring and tame given the cool and brutal stunts we've seen him pull off in previous issues. The art is solid but lacking when it comes to the character details. The cameos are pointless and in one case, potentially confusing. If Yost's name wasn't on the book, I would have guessed this is a rushed filler issue done by some other creators. That may not be what it actually is, but it certainly reads that way.

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8.1
Scarlet Spider #6

Jun 15, 2012

With both Kraven and Madame Web making appearances in this issue, this story seems like it's being set up as a sequel to Grim Hunt. This is fine by me as that is one of the few recent Spider-Man stories I've actually liked, even though I don't thnk bringing Kraven back to life was a smart or worthwhile move on Marvel's part. The idea of him going up against Kaine is a fun one, though. I just hope Yost will do a better job of making readers who haven't read the story feel welcome.

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5.2
Scarlet Spider #16

Apr 28, 2013

Scarlet Spider has a typical "day off" issue with fun and hijinks to bridge the gap between the last story and the next. But since this book really isn't as dark and intense as it is promoted as being, this is an unnecessary break that highlights the series' faults. In the Superior Spider-Man world, Scarlet Spider has lost a chunk of its identity, which it never really managed to full establish in the first place.

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6.2
Scarlet Spider #17

May 26, 2013

Scarlet Spider turns what had been set up as a potentially major plot point into fluff action story and an excuse to include Wolverine and the X-Men in the book. It's a truly disappointing turn of events. What makes it worse is that no substance is given to why Wolverine is Kaine's target and that Kaine's plan for getting at Wolverine is unbelievably dumb for the guy who is supposed to be good at this sort of thing.

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7.9
Secret #1

Apr 10, 2012

Secret tells the first part of a pretty well done corporate espionage story, but that story circles so widely around what its actual point or agenda is that becomes hard to understand why you should read it instead of other espionage stories. This is a book that is going to have to get its momentum from readers' faith in Jonathan Hickman instead. Fortunately, I think he has earned quite a supply of faith for his storytelling payoffs in other books. I am probably included among those readers. While this isn't the strongest first issue, I believe Hickman will build up to something that may not be apparent yet.

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7.6
Secret Avengers #21

Jan 13, 2012

Warren Ellis' Secret Avengers run ends very much like it began -- with a oneshot adventure of the team taking on one of the Shadow Council's projects. It's a real pity that we couldn't get a stronger, longer story from Ellis, but these done in one stories honestly have been entertaining in their own rights. It leaves me wish more titles would try them and pull them off with this quality from time to time.

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7.9
Secret Avengers #22

Feb 10, 2012

Remender writes a damn good Avengers book here, and that's where this gets a little complicated. This reads more like a vaguely defined Avengers spin-off title like New Avengers or Mighty Avengers than the more clearly defined title that Secret Avengers is meant to be. The team's secret nature in this issue comes off as arbitrary and false. It's entirely possible that Remender will emphasize the team's covert purposes in later issues, but for right now, I'm not feeling this as the Secret Avengers. I feel as though I have traded in my cool espionage team of superheroes for just another good Avengers book. While that isn't a terrible trade, it's not a trade that I was wanting to make.

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8.4
Secret Avengers (2013) #1

Feb 18, 2013

Secret Avengers with Spencer and Ross gets us back to the espionage themes that I've always felt got lost during Rick Remender's run with the series. It may become the next best thing to having a S.H.I.E.L.D. series as well. Best of all, it's a Marvel series where Spencer can finally succeed like he should. Because let's be honest. Books like Iron Man 2.0, Ultimate X-Men and a Cloak and Dagger limited series were never going to be big. Secret Avengers is something that can let his writing shine, though.

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5.3
Stormwatch (2011) #9

May 8, 2012

It's not a terrible issue, but it is a poor effort for Milligan's first. Maybe now that he is done reintroducing Stormwatch to readers, he can move on to some actual interesting things. My optimism for that is thoroughly beaten down, though. This reads like Red Lanterns, in which Milligan honestly doesn't seem all that interested in the characters he's writing.

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5.2
Stormwatch (2011) #19

Apr 6, 2013

It's not pretty, but DC does what it has to do to fix Stormwatch. But it's probably too little, too late and too Starlin. Many Stormwatch and Authority fans have already abandoned ship on this series, and even with these alterations, Jim Starlin is not a name that is likely to draw these fans back. Because while this is far closer to the kind of cast I originally wanted to see in this series, the writing and art still come up short of doing it justice.

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8.3
Suicide Squad (2011) #20

May 12, 2013

Suicide Squad gets a new lease on life with its new creative team. The strong characterization, intense violence and dark humor present here are what I, and many other fans, were hoping to see back when the New 52 first launched this title. Anyone who previously gave this book a try and found it wanting should make another pass. Kot and Zircher may be starting something here worthy of the book's predecessors.

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8.2
Superior Spider-Man #6

Mar 29, 2013

This A.U. issue of Superior Spider-Man is less about Age of Ultron to me and more about doing the current Spider-Man status quo justice. It's the best I've seen it pulled off so far. There's no ghost Peter Parker distracting from Otto's journey and no hammy overacting from Otto himself. Instead, it's a pretty smart and genuine take on the concept, and it's one I wish I could see more of in the regular issues of the series.

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6.7
Team 7 #0

Sep 16, 2012

Team 7 is a great premise that just isn't getting the backing it needs from DC. Its relevance is immediately undermined by other books and coming out a year late. A book like this needs the cooperation of the rest of the line to work, and there's no impression that it will get such a thing. Plus, Team 7 has a creative team that manages to do a fairly good job when what it really needs is one that does an amazing job right off the bat. As much potential as I see here, I wouldn't get too invested in Team 7. I don't expect this series to run long enough to give us the major developments it seems to want to toy with.

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6.1
Teen Titans (2011) #0

Sep 28, 2012

Teen Titans has some good ideas for Tim Drake's new origin, but it's an ultimately misguided take. Red Robin only diminishes Tim's role in the Batman mythology. It doesn't enhance it or make Tim a more unique character. The rather shallow portrayal of characters like Tim's parents hurt what is otherwise a smart way of transitioning them out of his daily life. And there are just no words for getting rid of the most iconic part of Tim's origin by not allowing him to figure out Bruce Wayne is Batman.

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3.7
Teen Titans (2011) #16

Feb 3, 2013

This issue of Teen Titans is full of forced and contradictory characterization. Very little about this story holds up to a second glance. In fact, quite a bit of it fails to make much sense at the first glance. The Joker is a ridiculously omniscient threat. The new bond between Tim and Jason falls apart spectacularly once the weight having them team up for more than a brief scene comes down on it. Brett Booth's art is energetic and enjoyable at least, even though he includes that face on Red Hood's helmet I hate so much. But ultimately, Lobdell fails to craft a strong thoughtful story here. Instead, this is something that reads as though it was written hurriedly over a weekend on short notice.

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9.8
The Avenging Spider-Man #6

Apr 15, 2012

What it comes down to is that if you're a fan of any of these characters -- Spider-Man, Daredevil or Punisher -- this issue is worth your time and money. You aren't going to find better portrayals of any of them. It's going to be a real shame if Amazing Spider-Man's much hyped Ends of the Earth story ends up overshadowing this one, because it almost every respect, this looks to be the superior story. The Omega Effect combines two of the classic relationships of the Marvel Universe and drops them into the middle of a potential gang war featuring the likes of AIM and the Secret Empire. And bottom line -- it's done extremely well.

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1.9
The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men #0

Oct 2, 2012

It would have been better for DC to just have cancelled this series.

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6.3
The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men #11

Jul 31, 2012

Fury of Firestorm: the Nuclear Men was one of the New 52 titles I most looked forward to. It had great creators and a great premise between two conflicting characters. Yet, it ended up being one of my bigger disappointments with the whole event. I've just been watching this book stray further and further away from what it could have been. From what I can tell, Joe Harris is a good writer, but he is stuck in the position of trying to manage a plotline that has become too convoluted for its own good. He may be capable of salvaging it all. Unfortunately, I doubt this series will last long enough for him to turn it around.

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4.7
The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men #12

Aug 28, 2012

So basically, there's really no reason to read this issue. Its whole purpose is to mercifully end the nigh disaster of a story it has been spinning for months now. Chances are that no one will be looking to follow up on any of it. I have no doubt that Fury of Firestorm: the Nuclear Men falls in the same company as Static Shock, Grifter, Voodoo, Savage Hawkman and all of the other titles that have suffered behind the scenes between creators and editorial. Eventually, we'll probably get some interesting interviews or tweets about what happened here. We know the basics already. Another series that had some momentum thanks to Brightest Day got ran into the ground within a year.

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9.4
Thor: God of Thunder #1

Nov 17, 2012

Thor: God of Thunder is on a higher level than other Marvel NOW! relaunches so far. They may be using familiar concepts, but Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic do it in a way that makes this first issue really feel like something new and exciting for their lead character. There's no "getting back to basics" or "business as usual" to this one. This is a match of some great ideas with some unique storytelling spanning three time periods at once. If you have a short list of Marvel NOW! relaunches to check out, Thor: God of Thunder deserves a spot.

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7.0
Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye #1

Feb 20, 2012

Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye aims to be the JLI of the Transformers franchise. It focuses on character and humor, and it does so at the expense of story drama and plot. Maybe if this issue spent less time trying to get laughs, I would know more about the Knights of Cybertron and be able to get behind what Rodimus' is trying to do here. But instead, I come away from this issue with some good chuckles and almost no interest in seeing what happens next. I will say it offers a good tonal alternative to Transformers: Robots in Disguise and will probably appeal to those who were fans of the old JLI days. But it's not what I was looking for coming out of the more serious story developments that launched this series.

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9.1
Transformers: Robots In Disguise #1

Feb 20, 2012

Having been disappointed with IDW's Transformers franchise since Transformers: All Hail Megatron ended, Transformers: Robots in Disguise is a very welcome change. The intelligent and character-driven conflict is has brewing is a definite upswing in terms of story, and the potential for more developments is so rich that I can't help but to want to keep reading to see what happens next.

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8.2
Uncanny Avengers #1

Oct 12, 2012

Uncanny Avengers delivers a strong first issue, and credit goes to John Cassaday's art for elevating it to a certain level. But Remender does avoid giving us too much of a stock team-building first issue and has chosen a potentially interesting cast. The mishandling of Cyclops and the rest of the former Phoenix Five is an impediment, but there is hope that the series can move on and away from the drawbacks of Avengers vs. X-Men.

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5.8
Uncanny X-Force (2013) #1

Jan 26, 2013

I'm left with the same question I started with. What is supposed to be this book's appeal? Puck? Fantomex? Its two most high profile cast members are also appearing elsewhere. It only picks up on a couple of loose threads from Rick Remender's popular run. And as far as X-Force goes, Cable and X-Force has more of an apparent purpose to it and claim on the name. All this leaves me feeling that Uncanny X-Force is less of a worthwhile story to tell and more of a strained attempt to squeeze a little extra cash out of X-Fans.

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8.9
Uncanny X-Men (2011) #5

Jan 23, 2012

Uncanny X-Men is honestly one of the better X-titles currently being produced. Gillen writes this book with intelligence and a strong grasp of the characters. He is also one of the very few writers who has been able to treat the X-Men as superheroes without making it feel like they've lost sight of their focus on mutants. The book could do with some improvements in the cast and in the art, but these flaws don't take much away from how good Uncanny X-Men has become.

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8.1
Uncanny X-Men (2013) #3

Mar 17, 2013

Uncanny X-Men delivers the goods. Finally, the Avengers get the blame for what went down during Avengers vs. X-Men, and Brian Michael Bendis starts returning us to the good old days when the X-Men were kind of outlaws in the Marvel Universe. Things have become far too homogenous and happy these days. It's refreshing to see such a division taking shape between the Avengers and Cyclops' X-Men, and it's one that I don't see any bridges crossing it any time soon. Despite that, Chris Bachalo's art does a disservice to the book, and it really would be better to have an artist with a more appropriate style for the kind of stories Bendis is telling here.

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6.8
Uncanny X-Men (2013) #4

Apr 13, 2013

The writing of Uncanny X-Men continues to be strong, but the disappointing result of Cyclops' invitation to the rest of the X-Men drags this issue down. It will be great to have the Stepford Cuckoos part fo this cast, though.

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4.7
Voodoo #5

Jan 30, 2012

Voodoo no longer has the sexiness, suspense and mystery that made its first four issues interesting reads. This is an issue sorely lacking in all three qualities, and characters barely even approach being three-dimensional. The nicest way to describe it is probably utilitarian. The story is more concerned with wrapping and setting things up as DC wants them than, frankly, being a good story. Hopefully, this issue has done the job and Williamson will have the skill to kick it into high gear next issue. Otherwise, it's a safe bet that you will see Voodoo among the next wave of DC cancellations.

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4.8
Voodoo #6

Feb 24, 2012

Voodoo was never one of my favorite series, but I did think it was a gem in the New 52 as one of the books genuinely trying to do something different and interesting. I really don't think it's trying to do that anymore. If the confusing clone revelation and push for more standard action rather than sex appeal and sci-fi intrigue is supposed to be what DC thinks will help this book, someone is very misguided in the DC offices. Anyone who still enjoys Voodoo should cherish every issue, because I'm betting there won't be too many more.

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9.7
Winter Soldier #1

Feb 5, 2012

Winter Soldier is a perfect addition to the newly emerging Captain America franchise and the true successor to Brubaker's first volume of Captain America. Anyone who enjoyed that should be down for this series. It has the same intelligence and style. Bucky's hunt for the hidden Soviet sleeper agents is off to a great start, and I already think I may be looking at one of my favorite titles of the year.

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8.8
Winter Soldier #14

Jan 26, 2013

Those could be found instead in Winter Soldier, where there remained a heavy emphasis on politics, war and espionage inside of superhero universe. And this is where you can find the end of the story Brubaker has been telling from the start. In broad strokes, this run has been the Rise and Fall of Bucky Barnes. We saw him resurrected as a Soviet agent, rescued and redeemed from that fate, serve for a time as Captain America and ultimately be forced back alone into the cold as a new kind of Winter Soldier. This has been one of the best Captain America stories ever. There's no doubt about it.

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