Avengers Academy #14
By: Christos Gage & Sean Chen
I hate to admit it, but this wasn't my favorite issue, even if this title remains my favorite new series on the stands. Chen's art is alright but isn't as good as Raney or McKone's, and the perspective is messy a couple of times, making the plot hard to follow.
Also, while it's nice to see the Academy go up against some heavy hitters (with results not typical in a superhero comic), the story just fell flat. I don't know if it was rushed or forced or something, but the story never seemed to gel. And for a moment that should have changed the direction of the title, none of the characters made any sort of change. Very disappointing in an otherwise great series. We didn't even get to see any change in my new favorite couple (Hazmat & Mettle).
By: Bryan Q. Miller & Dustin Nguyen
First off, look at that cover. The stained glass, featuring Batgirl on a ledge and Grey Ghost in the glass, is perfectly laid out and colored. Best cover of the month, easily. (There's a reason I have a Barbara Gordon Nguyen print on my wall.)
The inside of the book was a bit more meh. Batgirl's still taking down the Reapers, and Proxy makes a big decision that I'm not sure I like where it's going. Plus, we get a character talking to a ghost. If you've ever watched the later seasons of Grey's Anatomy, then you know how well that tends to go over. Also, I have to admit it: I don't like Nguyen's interior art as much as I like his covers. That eye-catching color and inks isn't used inside.
By: Gail Simone & Jesus Saiz
Look, I love Birds of Prey and I love Gail Simone, but this series, even after twelve issues, just isn't holding together. I still don't know why Hawk & Dove are on the team, especially after Oracle's "death". The art team keeps switching. And the Birds haven't had a single good adversary that really is their own, since sparring with Lady Shiva in the opening arc.
Sadly, this issue continues that trend by having the new villain be one of Simone's best creations but one I don't think suits the Birds. There's no character development in this issue, but you've got a bit of team-building with the Huntress trying to recruit the Question to the fold (but why is she recruiting, anyways, if Oracle is dead to the world?). It just doesn't hold together, despite the fabulous villain.
By: Sean McKeever & Mike Norton
You've got to give Marvel credit where it's due: I think it's a wonderfully smart idea to take their lesser used and newer properties (here, the ashes of the Initiative and the Young Allies) and pair them with solid creators and a big crossover to create a nice mini-series for characters we don't get to see much. Let's face it, people - the former Avenger and Spider-Man cartoon cast member Firestar is probably the most recognized face on that cover. This definitely isn't an A-List cast.
But McKeever does what he does best, giving the readers a quick introduction to several of the important character (Prodigy, Komodo, Gravity, and Thor Girl take most of the big moments here) and throws in cameos by a bunch of underused characters, without making it seemed forced. All this, served by art that is classically superhero-y (all bright colors and explosions) makes this my pull of the week.
By: Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, & Leandro Fernandez
Coming out of the Age of X crossover, the New Mutants have a new creative team and while Abnett and Lanning are two of my favorite writers (hello, Guardians of the Galaxy!), I'm not feeling this book yet. The tense and underplayed conversation between Illyana and Cyclops was great, but her friend's reactions didn't seem natural. Also, Karma and Cannonball make some other odd decisions in this book that makes me wonder if Abnett and Lanning have a good vision for these characters.
Fernadez's art is servicable, if nothing spectacular. You've got to give him props for that Cyclops/Illyana scene, since it was all dialogue and facial expressions, though. But when the camera pulls back, the action isn't the greatest, with characters placed in odd poses several times throughout. Luckily, we do have a wrap-around cover that is currently serving as my desktop background (although I'm not sure why Emma Frost and Psylocke are on the cover).
By: Jeff Parker, Kev Walker, & Declan Shalvey
Oh, I was enjoying this series so much. Parker and Walker had returned the Thunderbolts to its former glory by adding back parts of the original cast and taking some of the best underused Marvel characters and really turning them around. But this issue just falters - and I wonder if Fear Itself is to blame, given that one cast member made a big appearance in the first issue of that crossover.
The current storyline is oddly wrapped up halfway through the issue, with no resolution, and said crossover character is left behind, as the team goes across the world to battle a bunch of zombies. That's this issue in a nutshell, with not much else going for it. No character developed, no plot momentum, just moments that don't add up to much. All the nuance of the previous issues is seemingly gone. And while Shalvey does a good job at imitating Walker's sketchy style, it still manages to feel like an imitation. Another disappointing issue this week.
By: Rick Remender, Billy Tan, & Rich Elson
I picked up this issue becasue of two things: 1) this series has gotten a lot of press for how good it is and 2) this series will be journeying to the Age of Apocalypse, where my comic-buying experience began and a crossover I will never forget. And while I can see all the good here, I'm not 100% convinced it's as good as everyone says.
I like the Archangel/Angel duality going on, but the ending (and the reason for going to AoA) felt too much like a deus ex machina, instead of a real plot device. I'm hoping for a fake-out or something else in the coming issues. The art is alright here (although I'll be honest in that I don't know if Tan is the regular artist or not) but the Wolverine/Archangel fight is well done. Remender does have a nice control over the characters, even if there's not a single Deadpool talks everyone's ear off moment. All in all, I'll be sticking around for the AoA stuff but not sure about afterwards.
By: Peter David & Emanuela Lupacchino
David has had M as part of the X-Factor cast since he rebooted the series several years ago, but she hasn't had a lot of character growth, but this past year has seen more of her than ever before. And I like where he is taking her: on one hand, she's a major bitch, but on the other, she's a superhero. I like watching David walk that line with her.
As always, David has some great moments, with Longshot and the Black Cat's luck powers giving the book it's trademark humor and a heartbreaking scene between Layla Miller and Strong Guy that can give the book some great mileage in the future. The art in X-Factor is pretty good, with the exception of the facial expressions on that cover. Sure, that's what a fight really looks like but I personally like my comics to be pretty. Not creepy-ugly.
By: Mike Carey & Jorge Molina
Oh, speaking of facial expressions, ouch. Molina's art normally isn't this off the mark, so I'm not sure what I happened here but I know I didn't like it. There were a lot of characters running around and some of them were only identifiable by the dialogue. (Hello, Cannonball!)
The storyline itself was fine but felt wasted. There was too much glossing over what the hell the characters supposedly went through. The book worked best in small character moments like Pixie keeping some of her other self's naughtiness. But some issues felt like they lacked history - the revelation of Revenant's identity was smart and leads to further stories but Revenant was still pissed at Cyclops the last time she saw him and why in the world does Cyclops not ask about certain other people during that talk? It just seemed strange and out of context and not at all grounded in reality (which Carey normally does so well). And so we end this Comic Pull List on yet another disappointing issue.