This is my new feature where I present mini reviews of some of the books that came out this week. With no further ado, let’s get into some of this week’s new releases:
Daredevil Blood of the Tarantula #1
This issue of Daredevil downplays the origin and powers of the original Black Tarantula created by Tom De Falco and Steve Skroce in Amazing Spiderman and instead focuses on his life as a vigilante fighting drug trafficking, much like earlier Daredevil stories featuring the character have done in the past.
Carlos La Muerte is a desperate man who turns to Matt Murdock for help when his family is threatened in order to get him to stop his anti crime crusade. The story is briskly paced but the artwork is branded with the same murky feel of modern crime noir themed comics and the team-up between Daredevil and Tarantula isn’t as satisfying as earlier team ups with Spiderman for example. Brubaker does a good job of weaving the story, but his best work is still reserved for the biting politically based narrative of Captain America if you ask me. I am somewhat disturbed by the depiction of minority characters once again as criminals (in this case Latin drug lords) even though the central character is a redeeming personality, most of his fellow Latinos are criminals and low lives in a comic where the main star is a white blind man.
Avengers Initiative #12
After a year’s worth of story, it’s astonishing that Dan Slott and Christos Gage continue to deliver on the best post Civil War comic on the stands. I thought maybe following an action packed arc where K.I.A., the clone with the Tactigon weapon went on a killing spree on the Initiative’s training center (named for the original Human Torch Jim Hammond) that we would get a fairly anti climatic or dull read but such was not the case. The aftermath of K.I.A’s rampage is treated this issue with the utmost intricate detail and Tony Stark’s reaction is pretty damned interesting. Also noteworthy is the fact that the cadets are allowed to graduate following up on the characterization which has been a hallmark of the series since its inception, though not everyone believes in the Initiative’s mission. There is some fantastic artwork here by Steve Uy which is made more impressive by the fact he has little action sequences to pencil this issue. This comic continues to be a winner.
New Avengers #40
This comic gives the reader something a lot of Bendis penned comics have lacked, a fun and interesting feel following up on the events of Secret Invasion #1 and building up on the Skrull’s interesting history. The intergalactic history of Marvel’s alien races has a long running tradition and Bendis milks it for all it’s worth in order to set up the current storyline. That the Avengers are hardly present in this comic should not be a source of great consternation considering the rich, complex and detailed back story we are treated to here. Also, there is some stunning artwork by Jim Cheung who does an astonishing job of rendering the Skrulls and their throne world. Given Bendis’ propensity for hyperbole in his prose, it’s a rare issue which gives us some solid dialogue and given his affinity for a certain New Avenger, the last page reveal may not be as much of a shocker, though it is still rendered beautifully as is the rest of this fine comic book.
Ultimate X-Men #193
It’s hard not to read this book and be in awe of Kirkman’s handle on the story. He knows how to write an X-Man book with great pacing and pulse racing slugfests featuring a big showdown in the climactic final chapter between Apocalypse and the Phoenix. Unfortunately, all the elements feel like a re-tread of previous X-Men stories, spruced up for the modern era. Indeed, it’s hard to get excited over Jean Gray becoming Phoenix again and over some of the time travel aspects of this book given they were previously expertly explored in classic stories over in Uncanny X-Men by Chris Claremont years ago. The artwork in the comic by Harvey Tolibao is incredibly fluid and beautiful to behold, even though I thought it completely unnecessary to turn Phoenix into a nearly nude version of herself. X-Men fans and fans of Marvel’s ultimate revisionist universe will undoubtedly dig the book, even if the narrative seems a tad repetitive.