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The only problem with my weekly trips over to The Comic Bug is that I keep discovering new books I want to read, particularly when I get recommendations from Mike, one of the owners (although he does promise a money-back guarantee if you’re disappointed with one of his recommendations)! This week I ended up coming home with no less than nine lovely new issues to read.

Avengers Origins: Ant-Man & The Wasp One-Shot

The costume protects me from any random bug bites when I shrink down…plus, it showcases my physique handsomely.

Ant-Man & The Wasp’s origin story is a solid one-shot. We learn of Dr. Henry Pym who, after the loss of his wife, delved into his scientific endeavors, eventually creating what is essentially a shrinking serum as well as the serum to bring things back to their normal size. Following a near-disaster and surprise help from an ant, Dr. Pym focuses his research on communicating with ants while shrunk down.

Janet Van Dyne, daughter of a fellow scientist, is interested in Dr. Pym, but he won’t fully let her in due to the loss of his wife. When she suffers a loss as well, they join forces and she becomes The Wasp to Dr. Pym’s Ant-Man, ready to take on whatever they may have to face.

In parts of this story, I couldn’t help but think of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and the ant that helps the children find safe passage through their parents lawn. Some of the moments aren’t far-off. Altogether, it’s a tidy self-contained story and ultimately answers the question…do insects love?

Here Comes…Daredevil #1

Turns out in an era of Internet surveillance, Homeland Security, and DNA analysis, secret identities are a bitch to maintain.

This is one of the books I picked up on Mike’s recommendation and I’m glad I did. Daredevil is a very unique superhero in the Marvel universe. The first issue opens right away with a recap of his origin story: as a teenager, he was blinded by a radioactive cylinder that fell from a truck as he saved an old man who was about to be hit. Subsequent to this, all of his senses were heightened beyond the normal levels and he developed a radar-like sixth sense that makes him acutely aware of his surroundings.

In this issue, Daredevil is just getting back into the superhero game after having to hide out due to his identity being outed in the tabloids. Matt Murdock, blind attorney, continues to deny that he is Daredevil, but not everyone believes him and it certainly isn’t making his life any easier. His first foray back into superhero work is stopping a kidnapping at a mob wedding by The Spot, which naturally leads to him planting a kiss on the bride because her perfume was “driving him wild.” Back in his regular life, Matt Murdock returns to court to find that the Daredevil stories don’t help him there either.

I really enjoyed this issue, particularly the scene at the mob wedding with The Spot. The art throughout the issue, and in that scene in particular, really struck me. The Spot jumping through portals, Daredevil’s sonar, and the convergence of the two stood out. A superhero whose identity has been outed by the paparazzi is certainly a unique premise and I’m sure it will continue to make life even more difficult for Mr. Murdock. How do you try a case when opposing counsel will defend anything and everything by relating you back to Daredevil? How do you go out and fight crime in secret when paparazzi might be tracking your every move? I’ll be interested to find out.

Uncanny X-Men #1

The X-Men will continue to protect this world, no matter how much it hates and fears them. But we will never be victims again.

With the reboot of Uncanny X-Men, we are introduced to the other side of the post-Schism X-Men universe. While Wolverine and his X-Men have opened their school, Scott Summers and the mutants on Utopia must work to defend the roughly 200 mutants left in existence. He has formed a group of X-Men he’s calling the Extinction Team. He knows that Utopia is more-or-less hated by the rest of the world and the Extinction Team is there to defend mutants as well as help to defend humans and start to repair their image. There’s something called the “dreaming celestial” that’s been standing in San Francisco and Mister Sinister has decided to use it for his own purposes. Naturally, this means S.W.O.R.D. alerts the X-Men and a big battle for the Extinction Team.

I think this issue is a solid start to the other half of the X-Men reboot. We’re reintroduced to the key players, the threat from Mister Sinister is looming, and Cyclops and the remaining mutants on Utopia have to worry about what basically comes down to a bad mutant image around the world. It’s a lot to take on and I’m sure it will make for great reads as the series continues.

Avengers 1959 #3

These four she-devils are definitely not pirates…veterans of Hitler’s elite Einsatzgruppen, they’ve spent the past fourteen years working on their tans, their abs and their attitudes in Sao Paolo…

The plot of this series seems to get more complicated with each issue. Last time some of The Avengers were fighting off zombies, and this time Brain Drain and Baron Blood are pulled away before their eyes, apparently by some kind of Satanic magic, only to wind up in the clutches of Geoffrey Sydenham, who apparently wants to use them to his own advantage. Meanwhile, Nick Fury and The Blonde Phantom hijack a jet in Latveria to get them back to Wakanda, where they believe they’ve found a lead on Skul and the missing emperor. They then meet Howard Stark, who lends them a boat that is then attacked by some female assassin-types before a few more of The Avengers show up to help sway the outcome of that fight.

Basically, I’m still enjoying the retro styling and setting of this series as well as seeing Nick Fury, The Blonde Phantom, and now Howard Stark in action, but I hope the next two issues do some major clarification because so far, they are just adding layer upon layer to this five-issue run!

Superman Action Comics #3

You’re all attitude and no pants, Kent.

The third issue of Action Comics opens with a flashback to Superman’s origins: the devastating destruction of his home planet at the hands of robot-like creatures that call themselves the Terminauts. In the next scene, Clark is woken up by his landlady and a detective with police in tow busting into his room because Clark’s managed to piss off one of the most powerful men in town. As the issue goes on, the press builds up Superman as a threatening alien invader. In one scene, Superman rescues a little girl’s cat, but the girl recoils in terror and citizens throw bricks at him until he leaves. Basically, Superman isn’t having the best time of it. However, Clark is still determined to prove that Mr. Glenmorgan is one evil dude. To top it all off, both a program under control of the army and a robotics factory seems to have gone horribly wrong, especially since the factory’s suddenly producing robot creatures that call themselves Terminauts…

Action Comics continues to show Superman as a lonely alien in a strange world, a side I personally hadn’t thought much about. It’s an interesting focus for the character. He’s still young, he’s on a strange planet, and he’s lost his entire family. On top of that, his work as Clark Kent is under attack by one of the most powerful men in Metropolis and Superman is being labeled a menace. Things sure aren’t going too well for Clark Kent.

Shame Itself One-Shot

I shall go polish mine hammer.

This one-shot is a collection of short parody stories written by various comedy writers led by Wyatt Cenac and Elliott Kalan of The Daily Show. A few of the stories were pretty funny, though on the whole this probably wasn’t the best issue I ever picked up. I enjoyed “The Last Attack” – a story featuring an attack on Earth by the Fear Itself baddies, Galactus, and several other big bads…all on the same day. They then go on to try coordinating schedules so they don’t try to take over the Earth on the same day in the future. I also enjoyed the flow-chart of how to put together an epic Marvel crossover event. “Bonus! Undo the events of a previous crossover.”

Moon Knight #1

I knew this was going to go to hell…I’m not even sure which costumed jerk that was.

Moon Knight is one of The Avengers I knew next to nothing about, so when Mike recommended picking up the first issue, I did so happily. An ex-mercenary, Marc Spector was left for dead outside an Egyptian temple and believes he was resurrected by Khonsu, an ancient deity, who gave him his new abilities to fight evil as Moon Knight.

In this issue, Marc Spector is celebrating his successful television series, “Legend of the Khonsu,” when several of The Avengers show up on the roof of the building needing to speak with him. It seems that some of the criminal element finally caught wise that many of the superheroes live on the East Coast, so some of them are trying to make names for themselves in Los Angeles. Since that’s where Moon Knight lives now, he’s going to have to make sure they know there’s no free rein. He then follows a couple inept henchmen who find out they’re meeting Mr. Hyde (yes, that Mr. Hyde) and, unfortunately for the henchmen, they weren’t provided with the money he’s expecting. Moon Knight jumps in to take on Mr. Hyde himself and it goes about as well as can be expected. He comes away with a part of the loot and the realization that he’s going to need help from the other Avengers for this particular problem.

The first thing that stood out to me with this book is that the art is grittier than most of the superhero books I’ve read, but it’s perfectly fitting for this ex-mercenary character. The style is executed wonderfully – even pages with no text manage to be visually intriguing while still moving the story forward. Moon Knight has an interesting back story, one that hints that he may not be the most stable guy, and I love the idea of a series that’s based in Los Angeles. I’ll be checking out the next issue.

Orchid #1

When the seas rose, genetic codes were smashed.

I first heard about Orchid around the time of this year’s San Diego Comic Con when Dark Horse announced that Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello would be collaborating on a dystopian comic series revolving around a teenage prostitute. Needless to say, I was intrigued.

One of the most striking things about this first issue of Orchid is the world in which it takes place. Years ago, due to pollution and abuse of the earth, the seas rose, leaving only a small habitable portion of the earth. Outside the human settlements is The Wild where all manner of genetically mutated, ferocious animals live, just waiting to devour anyone who stumbles the wrong way. The rich have taken the high ground. The poor, called Bridge People, live in marshland slums, trade in “the commerce of lust,” and are frequently raided to be sold as slaves to the rich. At some point, there was a failed rebellion led by General China, who was killed and his legendary mask was stolen. In this issue, a small band of rebels leads a raid and steals back the mask. Only one of the rebels, Simon, escapes and fortunately he has the mask with him. He arrives in a bridge town and saves a young boy from one of the animal monsters, earning him the eternal gratitude of the boy’s mother.

Naturally, the boy (Yehzu) is our protagonist, Orchid’s, younger brother. Orchid arrives home shortly after Simon’s arrival after royally pissing off her pimp because she dared to take money to support her family. She bloodies him up and runs so it’s not surprising when, shortly after she arrives home, the slave traders show up on her doorstep taking Orchid, Simon, and Yehzu to be sold into slavery. Their mother pleads for them not to be taken, which can only lead to her death in front of her children. The pure rage in Orchid’s eyes at the end of this issue sets the stage for what I imagine will be some epic actions on her part.

Primarily, this issue sets up the rest of the series in a very straightforward way. We now know the lay of the land, we’ve met our main characters, and it will be interesting to see what this group does next. I have to say, I really like how ambitious the world of this series turned out to be. Obviously Tom Morello is using the story, at least in part, as an allegory for his political beliefs (class warfare and social injustices, etc.), but it seems as though the story will stand well on its own alongside that. I’ll be interested to see what role Simon and the mask will play in conjunction with Orchid herself. Finally, with each issue, Tom Morello is providing an original song via Nightwatchman Music, which could absolutely enrich the story further.

I, Vampire #1

I’m Martin Luther King and Malcom X and Ben Franklin all in one.

I always love a good vampire story, plus I think with it being Halloween week, I was in the mood for a good horror book. This one looked intriguing and again, the artistic style fits the mood and the story perfectly.

In this issue, we’re introduced to Mary and Andrew, two vampires who have known each other for four hundred years. From what I can gather/guess based on this first issue, for some reason it’s Andrew’s job to find and stake new vampires that are made. Four hundred or so years ago, for whatever reason, he didn’t stake Mary. Mary now wants to start a vampire revolution where they fight to take over the planet from humans. She believes they are the next step in evolution and knows that they’ll lose many in the fight against humans (and superheroes), but she believes it’s necessary. Incidentally, she mentions at one point that she drinks the blood of livestock rather than humans, so it would appear she primarily just doesn’t want vampire to have to hide anymore.

When I asked about this book at The Comic Bug, Mike told me that he’s so sick of vampire stuff right now, but that this series still manages to have a fresh take, so that was a great compliment to the story. I haven’t garnered what the specific vampire lore for this series is yet, but it appears they can turn into wolves and that is certainly new. The muted color palette in the art works perfectly for the sort of vampire apocalyptic setting. At the end of this issue, it looks as though Mary is starting her war. It will be interesting to see just how that goes.

That’s all for the reviews this week. See you next time, kiddos!

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