Antonio’s Top 5 Comics of the Week – April 3rd 2013

Published on April 8th, 2013

Hey Comic Impact! Welcome to the first week of comics for the month of April. I’m not fooling anyone when it comes to the best of the week, so here they are and I hope you enjoyed your comics.

1.Thanos Rising #1 by Jason Aaron and Simone Bianchi [Marvel]

ThanosRising1The main question for this mini-series will be; Who is Thanos? If you’ve been reading Marvel Comics for any amount of time you might be familiar with Thanos the Son of Titan. If you haven’t been reading comics or if you’re jumping in to comics because of Marvel’s Phase One films, specifically if the appearance of Thanos at the end of The Avengers has you intrigued in the character that will probably be making a huge impact in the film universe sometime soon then this comic is going to take you on the journey of who this character is and why he does terrible things.

I haven’t read much of Thanos outside of the Infinity Gauntlet series and his appearance in last summer’s Avengers Assemble comic from Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagely and the Marvel cosmic comics from a few years back. The character has always interested me because if you’ve ever met any fans of the character you know he has a dedicated following. At his simplest, Thanos is a monster that wants ultimate control of the universe, at his most complex he’s trying to impress the woman that he’s in love with, that woman being Death.

Before appearing in Avengers Assemble Thanos was killed by Drax the Destroyer which granted him his wish of being with Death, but then he was resurrected and what Thanos had always wanted was taken away from him so he’s a more than a little pissed off about the situation at hand. Right now we don’t know exactly how he’s going to be playing into the Marvel Universe as a whole but we will be seeing that soon as other stories in the Marvel U start to play out. Right now though, this series is looking at Thanos from his birth and introducing us the major invents in his life that shaped him to be the monster that we all know today.

Jason Aaron, to me, is one of the best writers working in comics today and I truly love what he’s done here in the first issue. It has to be mentioned that this book starts off the same as the last 2 cosmic comics that Marvel has launched in the last 2 months. A splash page of a planet, followed with a double splash page showing the vastness of space and the credits for the comic. Make no mistake, this is a cosmic book and if you’ve picked up Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy, make sure you pick this one up as well.

Aaron is taking his time with this story but he’s also laying the seeds for this character. We see the birth of Thanos and though it seems like an ordinary birth it turns into a horrific scene as his mother loses her mind in the process of giving birth and at the first sight of Thanos decides that the best thing to do is kill him. She is stopped and we go forward a few years into the future where we see Thanos as a child. Getting insight into his life as a child is really great because it’s very hard to make a monster sympathetic and I like that Aaron doesn’t use the regular tropes of storytelling when it comes to this. Thanos isn’t bullied as a child because of his different appearance to everyone else on his planet, in fact he’s embraced by his school mates and is made very welcome. He also gives Thanos a fondness for drawing, which I find endearing in some ways, maybe because I think any child can relate to it. I know I can, I always loved to draw a child because it was a way to help me escape into a world that I could control but it also served as a distraction for problems I might be having, or I just liked drawing characters that I thought were cool looking. I don’t know if Aaron thought of this, but I also like that Thanos draws because he shares something in common with Captain America, who also has an affinity to drawing that spawned from his childhood. Drawing is mostly a one person act and it serves as a great distraction for the lonely child.

Other story elements that were mentioned in this issue is that Thanos has an older brother, his mother is still alive, and he visits her. The scene where he sees his mother and tells her things is very creepy, especially the part where he tells her about dreams of almost being killed with a knife at birth. The one major thing I noticed is that Thanos’ father is a well respected scientist but he has very little concern for his family, his work comes first and his children are kind of left to fend for themselves. We see this briefly in a scene where Thanos tells his father that he wants to do research on himself and his parents to figure out why he looks the way he does, but his father doesn’t pay attention. This also is the third cosmic comic where it seems that daddy issues for the main characters are going to come into play. Vying for a father’s attention, the desire to prove oneself in the eyes of his father has come up in all the cosmic titles thus far and I refuse to believe its just coincidence. I haven’t even gotten to what happens in the second half of the book, but I won’t because it should be read without me talking about it, all I’ll say is that it starts planting the seeds for the Thanos we know today.

2. All New X-Men #10 by Brian Michael Bendis, Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger, and Marte Gracia [Marvel]

AllNewX-Men10The last issue of Uncanny X-Men ended with Cyclops going to the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning to recruit some of the students for his mutant revolution. This issue of All New X-Men picks up (almost) from where that issue left off.  This issue lets us catch up with Mystique and what she’s doing, along with Sabretooth and Lady Mastermind, which is stealing a lot of money, for a purpose, that purpose being a secret to the reader right now.

The rest of the issue is a lot of talking between characters, which is what Bendis is known for doing in his comics. This talking though has a purpose and a lot of is characters talking to other characters and saying things on their minds or saying things that they think need to be said. The issue of Cyclops killing Xavier comes up again with Cyclops saying that he couldn’t live with the fact that any of his fellow or former X-Men thought that, which is something I agree with. I’ve talked before at how Bendis is winning me over with his Cyclops and the things he’s been through.

The highlight for me in this issue really was the talking stuff. I loved when Wolverine and the rest found out that Cyclops was staring another school and calling it the new Xavier School. This is something that almost sets off Logan on a berserker rage but he’s calmed down by Jean Grey, who calls him James, which I fucking love. I absolutely loved that Cyclops called out Beast on his actions of bringing back the old X-Men as a way to do anything for what they believe is right. And I loved after older Cyclops leaves that younger Cyclops calls out Beast for the same thing and Beast ends up yelling at younger Scott as though he was yelling at the older one.

The scene that follows of Kitty, Ice Man (both), Wolverine, Storm, Jean Grey, and Beast talking in the mansion was a scene of writing at its best. To me the conversation was so natural, where multiple characters answer questions proposed by other characters. The X-Men get informed of Mystique’s actions from Maria Hill just in time to see the Uncanny X-Men come back to see if anyone will join them. As expected by almost everyone the Cuckoo Triplets join them and then we hear a character off panel say that they’ll go, much to everyone’s surprise. Who is that character? I don’t know and I’m not playing coy, it wasn’t revealed giving us probably the biggest blue balls to the ending of a comic I’ve read in quite some time. Alas, that reveal will come in this week’s Uncanny X-Men. I enjoyed the hell out of this comic, reading it was a joy and it put a great big dorky smile on my face. I feel as though Bendis has been reenergized by working on the X-Men and his issues keep getting better and better, reminding me (us) why he’s one of the best writers today.

 3.Winter Soldier #17 by Jason Latour and Nic Klein [Marvel]

WinterSoldier17I’m pretty sure the last time I talked about this comic I talked about the endless story possibilities with this character and his past. All the bad things you’ve done in life come back to haunt you or get even. When I say life, I’m not talking about real life, not really. We all know sometimes people get away with terrible actions and it’s up to you and what you believe in whether they get their comeuppance in the afterlife. In writing though, it’s a different story. Things don’t happen in fiction for no reason. For every action there is a reaction whether it happens immediately or takes time for those plans to develop. We all know that when Bucky was the Winter Soldier and worked for Russia that he had done some pretty bad things and we see that in this issue where, in a flashback, we see the aftermath of the Winter Soldier killing Tesla’s parents.

As much as I am enjoying Latour’s character study of Bucky, and it is a character study, I have to say that the real hit of this creative team is the art by Nic Klein, especially his flashback scenes. They are not only drawn beautifully but they are in colored in this dark icy blue and white, with barely any other colors. The colors work on two different elements to the story. One being that it’s just an aesthetic for the setting. The scene takes place in a cabin in the woods in a cold, snowy, isolated Russia. But it also works on a character level as well. It shows us the cold hearted, brainwashed person that Bucky was at the time. He’s loyal to fault and those are his reasons for doing what he does. Deep down he may know they’re wrong and that’s why in the present time he’s trying to make up for those sins but at the same time he has been programmed to be this cold, unremorseful person because he’s not in a position of control, and as we’ll find out that’s doesn’t work as an excuse for the things you’ve done in the past. I think I’ll leave this review at that. It goes without saying that Jason and Nic are fucking killing it on this book. I was a little worried after Brubaker left because I loved this book and this character but I will say again that if you bailed on this comic then you’ve done yourself a great disservice.

4.Swamp Thing #19 by Charles Soule and Kano [DC]

SwampThing19With Rotworld over Scott Snyder’s run on the Swamp Thing comic book has come to an end. This issue brings in the new creative team of writer Charles Soule (Image’s 27) and artist Kano, who has already been associated with this series by drawing the fantastic issue #0. This being the debut issue of a new writer on a book that in its 20 issues that have come before it, including the annual and issues zero, has already built this mythology to the series and readers of the book are very familiar with that mythology, so it’s a challenge to any writer to pick up write where the previous one has left and try to make it their own book with their own voice. Soule is more than ready to take up that task though.

The issue follows Swamp Thing, and I will be calling him Swamp Thing and not Holland because of the events of Rotworld, coming to terms with his position in life. The Rotworld story was a great dilemma that has left the character very different from where it started the story. Alec Holland and Abby are dead and with that I feel that closes the story that Snyder wanted to tell but leaving enough open for someone else to pick up certain pieces. Swamp Thing is a conflicted protagonist. He isn’t all man anymore, he has fully immersed himself in the green. He is fully an avatar of the green, but being born of man he still has the same insecurities that come with being a human being. Though he still thinks of himself as a man, from the beginning of the issue he has to convince himself that he is a man, he has to talk to himself and call himself a man even though he’s slowly losing that connection to the world because of all the time he spends talking, or at least listening to all the plant life he comes in contact with. This propels him to use some new traveling powers to end up in Metropolis where a fight with the Scarecrow sets off something within the plant life and they start growing everywhere. The issue ends with Superman flying over head saying the name Holland.

First off, I loved how this issue ended because I like how it ties into the first issue of Swamp Thing where Alec talks to Superman. It’s going to be interesting to see a discussion between these two characters now seeing as how different Swamp Thing is from that first issue. (I don’t read the Superman books so I don’t know how he’s grown as a character.) I really liked the way that Scarecrow was brought into this issue. Scarecrow needed more of those blue flowers that we’re all familiar with if we’ve seen Batman Begins, because he needs them for fear toxin. But I also have to hand it to the coloring in this book for the subtle differences in the color of Swamp Thing according to his location. In the beginning of the book he’s in a desert and he’s brown and dried out and he has appearance qualities of cacti. When he’s in Metropolis he greener and less cacti. From what I can gather from this first issue is going to be the struggle for Swamp Thing to keep his humanity as he slips further into the green. I thought this was a great first issue from the creative team and I’m looking forward to more.

5.Mind the Gap #9 by Jim McCann, Dan McDaid, and Rodin Esquejo

MindTheGap9I don’t know if I’ve seen anyone care for a comic they’ve created as much as Jim McCann cares for this comic. I’m a sucker for a good mystery especially when there is a bigger story at play. I also like that there’s some sort of either science fiction or something supernatural at the core of it as well. I haven’t decided whether it’s Sci Fi or supernatural but I’m leaning towards supernatural because it has more to do with the soul and spirits rather than anything sciency. So yeah, I really enjoy this comic but I also love it when comics don’t treat their readers like they are dumb, this comic doesn’t pander and when comics do things that are out of the box you end up with a fantastic silent issue like this.

There are two main characters in this issue that are the focus of the story. One of them is Jo, who is Elle’s best friend. The other one is The Hoodie character that does the dirty work of Elle’s mother Min. Min has told Hoodie to clean up some loose ends in the case of her daughter’s attacker, Dane Miller, who they’ve framed. The loose end in this case is Dane’s father. As events unfold the issues ends up with Jo seeing Hoodie kill Dane’s father. That’s pretty much the whole story of the issue but the reason it works so well and why I liked it so much was because of the fact that it was silent. The issues is bookended by series regular Rodin Esquejo but the majority of the issue is drawn and I assume colored by Dan McDaid, who just shines.

The whole story plays that noir card beautifully. Instead of going dark and shadowy it goes bright with blues and whites to show a typical New York Winter. It takes time to show us everything and build to a suspenseful and tense seen, going red on certain panels and pages to remind us of the danger in the scene. The entire issue was beautifully written, drawn, colored, and put together. Not something we see often in comics but it was a nice change of pace and a great way to tell a short story and tie it into the larger part of the ongoing series.

Antonio Cuneo
Antonio@ComicImpact.com