- #4 Savage Avengers #19 By Gerry Duggan and Kev Walker
Finding its way to the bottom of my Marvel ranking this week was the actually enjoyable Savage Avengers. I initially picked up this book as a fan of Robert E. Howards legendary sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian, (which Marvel reacquired from Dark Horse last year) and stuck around for the comical “fish out of water” tropes that the Cimmerian would find himself in once he was transported to the Marvel universe. This issue wraps up Conan and Deadpool’s involvement in the King in Black event which was an absolute blast. The aforementioned duo team up with a small-time villain by the name of Night Flyer to assist a trio of Mutants (Bishop, Callisto, and Iceman) in saving Storm and Cyclops from the symbiotic grasp of Knull. The adventure takes twists and turns as Conan and Deadpool break into the Empire State Building and face off against the hyper powerful mutants resulting in a showcase of power rarely seen. Some great and consistent work from artist Kev Walker who has some gnarly depictions of Cyclops under the influence of Knull. A really fun book that sets Conan up with a base of operations for his future involvement in the Marvel universe. Looking forward to more Savage Avengers.
- #3 Amazing Spider-Man #62 By Nick Spencer and Patrick Gleason
A fairly low stakes, but entertaining adventure in the life of the Amazing Spider-Man. For the record, I think Nick Spencer is a great writer who had me hooked in the pages of Captain America leading into Secret Empire as well as the hilarious book that was The Superior Foes of Spider-Man. That being said, he’s had some issues with pacing in the main line run with the Web Slinger, prominently displayed in his handling of Kindred across 2 years. Now that Last Remains is officially over, Spencer is beginning to fall into the relationships and styles that made me enjoy his work in the first place with Superior Foes. Boomerang, Beetle, and Tombstone are examples of characters Spencer has a fantastic voice and direction for, that i’m pleased to see. My only gripe is that after 60 issues I hoped to see a high stakes story involving the Web Head that actually delivers in its pay off. We can only hope that as he approaches #100 in the next 1-2 years we’ll see the culmination of all the threads he’s laid out. The unequivocal STAR of this book was Patrick Gleason absolutely showing off all of the goods. His line work is playful, confident, and detailed. His work really elevates this book by complementing the tone of the writing and helping push it farther. Patrick Gleason is on fire as an artist right now, providing not only elite interiors but iconic variant covers seen this week on Carnage: Black, White & Blood as well as Alien #1. Keep your eyes on this artist going forward and let’s all stick around to see what Spencer has in store for our favorite Wall Crawler.
- #2 Carnage: Black, White, & Blood By Various Writers and Artists
Fun, unique, and bloody is the best way to describe this collection of alt universe Carnage stories that give us a little bit of insight into the madness that is Cletus Kasady. The first story written by Tini Howard and penciled by Ken Lashley was, at least for me, a tad messy which admittedly can serve as a benefit to a Carnage story which helps depict the broken nature of his mind. From a narrative perspective I think it mostly worked, I just found myself a little lost at times. Some great, gritty work from Lashley which is exactly what we would need from a Carnage book. The second story really struck a chord with me and flourished as a Carnage story. Written by Benjamin Percy and Penciled by Sara Pichelli, “End of The Trail” follows a Federal Marshal, suspiciously styled after Actor Sam Elliot, as he tracks a trail of carnage and brutality throughout the old American West. What he finds at the end of the trail in this western-noir tale is more than he could have bargained for. Great work all around and it certainly kept me on the edge of my seat for the few pages it had me. The final story “You Are Carnage” By Al Ewing and John McCrea was an absolute delight that kept me smiling the entire way through. A rarely seen choose your own adventure tale where, you guessed it, YOU are Carnage and must roll a six sided die to fight your murderous urges and be a hero, or succumb to your blood lust and wreak havoc. Tons of fun to be had with this particular story. One could only wish it was longer! I am very much looking forward to what stories pop up for the next installment.
- #1 Alien #1 By Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Salvador Larroca
This book takes the cake for Marvel this week as Johnson (Marvel Zombies: Resurrection) lays the thrilling groundwork for a fresh installment in the Alien mythos. Taking place in the year 2200, (21 years after the events of “Aliens”) the story follows Gabriel Cruz, a newly retired defense agent for the shady Weyland-Yutani corporation, as he makes his way back to earth after a long stint on a space station. He meets with his estranged son who is unaware of the horrors that plague Gabriels mind, that we learn consists of face huggers and xenomorphs from a mission gone terribly awry. I won’t go into the details of the twists and turns this book takes but there are some great dramatic setups that really nail the tone of the films. Dark, gritty and violent is the name of the game for this first issue. I won’t pretend to be oblivious to the controversy that surrounds the artist Salvador Larroca but commenting solely on this book, I can say that his work really dragged the powerful storytelling down. Awkward and accidentally terrifying proportions plague the faces of almost all human characters in this book. The depiction of monsters is fairly good but the work really falls flat with human characters which, unfortunately for Larroca, happen to be the driving force of this book. I would have preferred a more consistent and less controversial artist on this book but for the time being I would continue to support the solid storytelling of Phillip Kennedy Johnson and hope that Marvel can introduce new pencils to this book over time.
- #1 Power Rangers #5 By Ryan Parrot and Francesco Mortarino
The adventures continue in this installment of Power Rangers as the Omega Rangers consisting of Trini, Jason, and Zack seek to get off a strange wild west planet after the space vampire events of the previous arc. Ryan Parrot is phenomenal at juggling multiple story lines, especially considering he’s also writing the adjacent Mighty Morphin book that follows the adventures of the other group of rangers. The plot hopscotches through settings that vary in tone wildly without ever skipping a beat. Whether it’s Jason and Zack ordering water from a wild west saloon before a dangerous game of space poker, or Zack battling a Ranger killer in a SPD Space holding cell. The book never lets you feel lost even as it presents outlandish concepts such as Morphin Masters and rebirths of the universe. Reading Mighty Morphin and Power Rangers in tandem is a delight. The art by Mortarino is fun and coherent despite the peculiar and exotic situations the Rangers consistently find themselves in. The end of each issue leaves you wanting more and I for one can’t wait to see what Parrot and the Rangers have in store for me next.