Weekly Comic Round-Up, August 14, 2013 Edition

by Aaron Einhorn
Welcome back! If you’ve followed me here from Comic Hero News, or going even farther back to Underneath My Mask, than you probably remember that one of the regular features I had was a review of the comics I’m reading that week. Full disclosure: This is not everything I read, and it’s not everything that hit the stands this week. It is, however, the books I feel merit being talked about, either because they were awesome or because there was something really, really wrong with them.

So, here we go. What came home with me from The Laughing Ogre? Read on.

astrocity_3Astro City #3: “Mistakes”
Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson have been doing something remarkable with Astro City ever since the very first issue. To this day, the first story in Astro City tugs my heartstrings and has made the Samaritan one of my favorite Superman pastiches. So, was I worried to see the book moving to the Vertigo imprint? No, not really, but I did wonder where it was going to go. This issue is the second issue focusing on Marella Cowper, a customer service representative for the Honor Guard. The first issue showed how she inadvertently caused a massive war and battle in a small South American village, and this issue shows us how she tries to fix it.

As always, Astro City is about the human element to the superhuman tales, and as is not uncommon, our POV character is not one of the heroes, but an ordinary person caught up in the extraordinary. It should go without saying that this is an issue you would be well served by picking up.

avengersarena_13Avengers Arena #13
I was a huge fan of Avengers Academy, and so despite being unthrilled with the premise behind Avengers Arena, as the “spiritual successor” to that comic, I was committed to giving Arena a chance. I’m glad I did.

In this issue, Hank Pym and Tigra, the headmaster and headmistress of Avengers Academy, start trying to track down the missing students, based on a hunch provided by Molly of the runaways. We don’t actually get to see anything involving the Arena, but we do get a really strong investigative story as Pym consults with Captain Britain, Wolverine, S.H.I.E.L.D. and the parents of several of the “missing” kids, and we get to see just how well Arcade has covered his tracks.

It’s still a question what Arcade’s master plan is, but from this issue it’s clear that he does have one. Very solid read from Christos Gage and Karl Moline.

infinity_1Infinity #1
Marvel kicks off their latest “big event” with the return of Thanos, mysterious forces threatening the galaxy, and a cast that dwarfs most of the “event” crossovers.

I have to say that, as event comics go, this one is both grander and smaller in scope than many. Anytime Thanos appears it is something to take note of, but this book seems to be mostly contained to the Avengers titles. Considering that Jonathan Hickman is writing this title as well as Avengers, that makes sense – but it also makes me feel like this could have been restricted to an inter-title crossover.

Nonetheless, we actually get something kind of interesting here, and it helps justify some of the weirder character choices (Starbrand, Smasher, Hyperion) that we’ve been seeing in Avengers start to get used in the pages of Infinity.

Word has it that Infinity will also cover some of the ways that the timeline and continuity have been “broken” by some of the previous cross-title events, so I’ll stick around for that if nothing else.

In other words, the first issue of Infinity didn’t leave me overwhelmed, but it also didn’t leave me annoyed about spending $4.99 for the title.

thunderagents1T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1
I was just a young lad the first time I came across Wally Wood’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. At the time, the license was owned by First Comics, and in the intervening years, it’s moved around quite a bit, including a recent stint at DC Comics where Nick Spencer brought a new version of the agents to the modern era.

Somehow (I’ve missed the drama surrounding how), the license has moved to IDW, and Phil Hester and Andrea Di Vito have brought us a new version of the team. The comic seems to be taking place in contemporary times, but starting with a relatively young team of agents. Thunder and NoMan are a part of the team, facing off against Iron Maiden, and the issue begins with the Maiden having defeated Lightning, destroying NoMan’s body, and taking the Invisibility Cloak (again) and THUNDER (they aren’t bothering with the acronym’s periods within the pages of the book, so while should I?) forced to come to a new solution. That solution is the Thunderbelt, which will end up being worn by Len Brown. In this story, Brown is an ex-hockey player who has been serving as an oddly scrupulous leg-breaker for the local mob. Brown isn’t very smart, but he seems to be loyal and brave, and all but immune to pain, so he’s the perfect candidate for the belt.

We don’t get a chance to see the new Dynamo in action, much less see his initial encounter with Iron Maiden (which will, no doubt, turn romantic), so this very much feels like a “Part One” instead of a stand alone comic. I kind of miss the era when most issues of a comic told a complete story, but hey, I’m so happy to see T.H.U.N.D.E.R. back that I can’t possibly be an unbiased critic here. This isn’t the best version of the Agents I’ve seen, but hopefully it’ll be a more long-lived one than DC’s recent offerings. I know I’ll be buying the next issue.

uncannyxmen10Uncanny X-Men #10
Scott Summers and his team of X-Men (currently consisting of himself, Emma Frost, Magneto, Magik, the Stepford Cuckoos, a very young Warren Worthington III and several brand new mutants) are having an interesting time of it. While Summers himself is still wanted for the murder of Charles Xavier, he and his team are doing their best to find new mutants, save them from persecution, teach them how to use their abilities, and occasionally save the world.

Against this backdrop, Magneto may or may not be collaborating with Maria Hill and the new Mutant Liaison for S.H.I.E.L.D., Alison Blair, and the other heroes of the world, especially the Avengers, may still be trying to stop them.

I don’t know if I know who this version of Cyclops is. He isn’t the idealist I grew up with, he isn’t the militant I found myself puzzled by, but he’s an interesting guy.

Not a lot of action occurs in this issue, it’s more of a set-up issue for the return of the Sentinels next issue, prompted by Scott and team appearing at a pro-mutant rally in Ann Arbor, but it’s still a good character read. For people looking to jump in on Uncanny X-Men, this issue might not be a bad starting point.

Meanwhile, Green Lantern Corps #23 reveals the mysterious reason that the rings have been failing as we discover a threat to all of the major entities, Secret Avengers #7 has the attempt to assassinate the Supreme Scientist fail, Daisy get fired from S.H.I.E.L.D., and Mockingbird get abandoned, Ultimate Comics: X-Men #30 has an all-out war begin between Kitty Pryde’s Utopia and Jean Grey’s Tian, and in World’s Finest #15, Power Girl and Huntress face off against the New 52’s version of Desaad.

Thoughts? Disagreements? Want to offer up ideas on what books you’re reading this week? Let us know in the comments!