TCR: Wolverine and the X-Men #1, Avengers Solo #1, and Aquaman #2

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Wolverine and the X-Men #1

Wolverine has taken one half of the X-Men back to Westchester to start over again. SCHISM tore them apart, but can Wolverine lead the new Children of the Atom into the future?

 

Let me just get this out in the open right at the beginning – I was utterly annoyed by the art in this debut issue so very, VERY much that the entire time that I was reading, I don’t think that I could even give this story (the written aspect of the story) the chance it deserved. I was too busy being annoyed.  But that’s the thing about Chris Bachalo’s work. You either love it or you hate it. Me, personally, I don’t understand comic book art that makes things completely out of proportion, unnecessarily sketchy, or just plain odd to look at – and Bachalo’s art in Wolverine and the X-Men #1 is all three.

Now that my major complaint is out of the way, I can try to look more fairly upon this issue. I had high expectations for the release of this new ongoing series considering how much I’ve been enjoying the entire Schism event. Those high expectations were probably not met, but with that said, there are still enjoyable qualities about this issue. Not much action is happening, but the action isn’t necessarily needed at this juncture of the storyline. Wolverine is finding himself stressed in his new Headmaster role within the school for gifted youngsters that he has been working to establish. He has the building. He has the students. He has the faculty. What he is missing is the government-sanctioned go-ahead from the Department of Education. As you can imagine, in a school of rambunctious mutant teenagers and an equally rambunctious mutant staff, that might be more difficult to obtain than Wolverine, or his new Headmistress Kitty Pryde, had anticipated.

This issue acts as a great introduction to some of the X-Men that had joined Wolverine and the current underlying feel of tension that difficult time of establishing themselves in this capacity. The tone is simple. The plot is much more fun than it is intense. Generally this book is a handshake to the reader to welcome them to this new series. The story was cute … but in the end I felt like something was missing. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I feel like this same story could have been told more effectively somehow. As a launch it was unremarkable, but Jason Aaron has lost my interest before only to bring it back to him again by presenting me with something awesome as a peace offering. So final verdict is still out…

There is one redeeming quality of the book, though, that made me amusedly happy that I had bought the issue. At the end there is an adorable (and helpful in figuring out who all is on Wolverine’s side) listing of the faculty, students, and “other” that are members of this school. There is also a laugh-out-loudable class list categorizing all the offered courses and instructors. This ending addition was, by far, my favorite part of this issue.

 

Avengers Solo #1 of 5

THE ARROWED AVENGER RETURNS! When a stranger lies dead at the Avengers’ doorstep, Hawkeye won’t let his world be implicated in a grisly murder. But what seems to be a simple murder gives way to a gruesome conspiracy – one Hawkeye can’t walk away from – and one that involves…The Trapster?!

 

Avengers Solo focuses on Hawkeye. Awesome! I love Hawkeye…

I can’t help but think this limited series is only called “Avengers Solo”  because Marvel wanted to trick people into reading about Hawkeye so that his mini-series and general presence in the Avengers movie would be more accepted. But hey, I can’t complain. As I said, I like Hawkeye.

Clint Barton is playing the role of detective in this 5-issue mini. Only he has been entrusted with the clues that could bring down a murder. He obviously feels some pride over the selection, because he turns down help from Captain America and the other Avengers. He wants to figure out the mystery connecting several murders and disappearances all on his own. He knows it has something to do with the Hanover Modeling Agency. Unfortunately though, in what was probably the best artistic panel of the issue, his best source of information just turned up dead.

While this issue had its good moments, again, I have to admit my disappointment here. This time both the art and the narrative both just seemed rather erratic. The art, instead of adding context for the written element of this story, instead seemed like an after-thought with very little transition from panel to panel. In fact, transition in general seemed to be the problem in this issue. The entire thing was choppy . To make it even more confusing, the art was extremely darkly shaded and lined in hard black lines. While in some panels this made for a gritty feel, in others is just make it difficult to see what was happening. Coloring aside, for the actual illustrations themselves I had no qualms. They were appropriately simple and precisely drawn.  

As for the dialogue, it felt forced and more than once I had to read what looked like a simply stated bubble several times before I understood who all the adverbs were referring to, respectively. This again disrupted the reading flow.

Ultimately, I recommend this issue for Hawkeye fans who want a fix. If you are not a Hawkeye fan I wouldn’t bother.

 

Aquaman #2

The red-hot creative team behind BLACKEST NIGHT and BRIGHTEST DAY reunite!

An entire town…devoured! As Aquaman and Mera discover the grisly truth behind a town’s disappearance, the Trench infestation spreads inland! Plus: Another gruesome Trench power revealed – and it’s not for the squeamish!

 

I probably should have waited to review this issue in my upcoming, Saturday New 52 #2s review of the week. But, I was so disappointed with my Marvel purchases, I needed this issue to lift my spirits and make this article seem a bit less whiney.

Have I mentioned I love Geoff Johns? Just as in issue #1 of the new Aquaman series, issue #2 extremely well-written and filled with a dry humor that I had to appreciate. I love that Aquaman is the underdog in the popularity race. Because the recognition of this fact is so well done, it adds a layer to the series that it seems some of the other New 52 series are also going for – but is just plain working better here. Since the New 52 started over, superheroes have become less of an established concept in the DCU (especially in Justice League which takes place 5 years in the past at the moment).  So the writers are still trying to build up the heroes themselves and the confidence of the citizens have within these said heroes. But, as readers, we already have this confidence so it doesn’t work as well. While other characters in the DCU might think Batman is just a guy with no powers in a suit, we know better. While Superman might still seem like the wildcard of the bunch, again we as readers know better.

But Aquaman has less of an established reputation. Even for long-time fans of the character, he has gone through good writers and not so good writers which affects general aura of superheroey-awesomeness. So when these issues play with the concept of people’s lack of confidence in the Aquaman as a hero, it actually feels REAL.

Oh, and the creatures/enemies are still gross and primitive and awesome.

Of all three comics I’ve reviewed here, the art of this issue also wins the first-place prize, hands down. I’m a sucker for well-drawn detail. Simplicity is welcomed when appropriate, but detailed, realistic art helps me emerge myself in a comic book story. Ivan Reis’s art has a great detail to simplicity ratio in this series, completing the fluid feel of the story.

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