**AS ALWAYS BE MINDFUL THAT THERE WILL BE SLIGHT SPOILERS, READ AT YOUR OWN PERIL!!**
American Vampire: Second Cycle #5
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Matias Bergara
Color Artist: Dave McCaig
Reviewer: Ray Willis aka The Man that Knew Too Much
This issue of American Vampire Second Cycle steps back from Pearl and Skinner and focuses on Gene Bunting, west coast bookkeeper of the Vassal of the Morning Stars. He’s trying to search for an old mining project called the Royal Forkes Drift claim. He was brought here by a book that he found as a bookkeeper but not just any book but a journal handed down over the years. It tells a story about Dodger and Seb and their experience during the mining project.
Scott Snyder really knows how to tell a really good tale of horror and suspense. I love horror and American Vampire has delivered on that. Snyder really brings more mystery to the “Gray Trader” who has been laying in wait over the many years. Creating a story around just two men during the “Gold Rush” was an interesting choice and it really delivers. I really liked how the pages from Dodgers’ journal is added into each page. Detailing of what is going on and the art by Matias Bergara is a different change to the series but I know this just a one shot story. You can really tell the subtle differences from Rafael Albuquerque’s artwork. The colors were really good as well, mostly tan color since most of the story in the desert and on the pages of an old journal. The varieties of colors that are presented give a nice setting where everything is. I didn’t find anything wrong with this issue because Snyder has created a very well written issue with some more mystery about the “Gray Trader” and the two men during the “Gold Rush”. The colors were great but I wish the journal pages were a little bit more damaged given its age. American Vampire Second Cycle has been amazing up to this point and still is going strong, this is a must buy issue.
5 out of 5 Vampires
Moon Knight #8
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Greg Smallwood
Reviewer: Oz Longworth Jr. aka The Last Living Descendant of Optimus Prime
If there was any doubt that Brian Wood and Greg Smallwood would be able to maintain the stylish momentum Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey brought to Moon Knight, it should be completely erased at this point. Gone. If this were a courtroom and the new creative team were on trial, the defense would be able to safely rest their case Wood took what should/could have been a thankless job and offered a fresh voice to what will be considered a legendary run while still showing reverence for the elements that made his predecessor’s tenure truly great.
Though last month’s issue smacked with an air of familiarity that rubbed some readers the wrong way, this issue should put such complaints to rest. So, basically, Freedom Tower is in the midst of a tense hostage situation courtesy of an unknown terrorist threat and the NYPD has, for the moment, turned to their consultant, Mr. Knight to offer some insight and, if possible, diffuse the situation. Wood takes a situation that could have come across as a paint-by-numbers superhero version of Die Hard and breathed new life into it, telling the whole story through various phone, news and surveillance cameras via a “found footage” format not unlike movies such as Chronicle or Cloverfield. Despite covering the main conflict from a couple of different vantage points, Wood still keeps you, the reader, right there within the action without ever taking away from the momentum of each moment. It almost makes you wonder why such a thing hadn’t been attempted previously (although it’s doubtful that a writer of sub-Wood caliber could have pulled it off so well). And we’re also treated to a delicious ending that possibly breaks the heavy “stand alone” nature of each issue that was first introduced to the book by Ellis. Meanwhile, Greg Smallwood’s pencils and Jordie Bellaire’s coloring, not unlike during Shalvey’s tenure, have combined forces to create a Voltron of artistic effort that has ascended to the hallowed category of “above reproach.” Every single panel of this book carries with all the tension and volatile nature that you would find in an episode of 24.
Bottom Line: The changing of creative talent has done nothing to hinder the strong foundation laid by Warren Ellis Himself. This is still one of the best books Marvel has in its roster.
4.5 out of 5 Full Moons
Silver Surfer 6
Writer: Daniel Slott
Artist: Michael Allred
Reviewer: Alex Krefetz aka The Artist formerly known as…
Many have described Slott and Allred’s run on Surfer so far as the Marvel-equivalent of Dr. Who. This is far from a bad thing: I’ve enjoyed the modern run of the sci-fi television series and it seems many others have too. Most comparisons seem to come from the basic premise of each; the titular character is an extremely powerful, space faring character partnered with a young human female on adventures through the galaxy. While the issue isn’t bad, it marks for me the beginning of where this may start to get tiresome.
Unlike the first few issues, this story seems to be a stand-alone tale. Surfer and his partner Dawn are exploring the universe, only to be pulled over by Dawn’s human needs to do little things like eat, go to the bathroom, and maintain her health. The duo finds themselves on a planet that prides itself on being #1` in everything, and somewhere along the line conflict rises. This issue more than any other reminded me of the early Dr. Who episodes I’ve watched – a unique location, strange rules comparable to real-life beliefs, and cosmic hijinks. Despite this, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was a kind of story I had heard before. All-powerful being partners with quirky female to find that maybe he didn’t have all the answers and really needed her help after all. I’ve never read much Silver Surfer before this, so it hasn’t bothered me when others say Surfer has been out of character. This is also Dawn’s first appearance, and I really do like what Slott has been doing with her but in this issue it seems to draw closer to those quirky girl stereotypes. Look up the trope “manic pixie dream girl” for a further explanation of it. I’d love to see Dawn and Surfer develop as a more well rounded characters, without succumbing to those tropes.
On the art side, Mike Allred kills it with his signature style. He really seems to be the perfect match for this cosmic type of storytelling, and his drawings pop off the page with vibrant coloring and deep inks. I spent more than a few minutes staring at the beautiful final page. I would have a hard time dropping any book as gorgeous as this. Overall, while I fear the series may lose its narrative to cheap trope play, I still recommend this book. Its weakest issue still provides a fun read, but hopefully Slott can work towards building a more solid ongoing plot.
3 ice creams out of 5
Uncanny Avengers #25
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Daniel Acuna
Reviewer: Alex “It’s me again” Krefetz
For the most part, Uncanny Avengers seems to operate in the back of the Marvel Universe without impacting much going on in other books (just a few issues ago, the world was destroyed completely and ushered in a dark alternate future and put back together without so much as a mention outside of the book). With the upcoming Axis event and the ascension of Red Onslaught, it seems this book stands in the spotlight as a prelude to what’s to come.
Since returning from their fight with Kang and the Apocalypse Twins, the Unity Squad has come under some hard times. Havoc’s face has been scared, he and Wasp lost their child that was brought up in the alternate future, Thor feels guilt from allowing Kang to manipulate him in his plans, and Wonderman is stuck inside of Rouge amongst other problems. Additionally, the Red Skull has returned from the first arc of the series with the powers of the late Charles Xavier and a new plan to inspire fear and hatred of mutants. At his death camp, several of the mutants meet with a captured Magneto to fight against the Red Skull, weighing the consequences of their actions for mutants’ image to the rest of the world.
For starting on a series focused on a squad assembled to preemptively eliminate problems (usually by killing), Remender continues to explore the ramifications and moral quandaries with continuous killing. Magneto, with his Holocaust-era beginnings and modern roll with the X-Men, is a particularly interesting case. The issue focuses mostly on him and his daughter, Wanda, which is something I haven’t seen in many modern stories. It’s a more thoughtful take on the violence than I’ve seen in other Marvel books, and it keeps me interested in the story.
I was glad to see Daniel Acuna return on art. Last month’s fill-in did a good job, but his entire series feels like its been most impacted by Acuna’s dark scenery and style. In a mutant internment camp and with a large cast of heroes and villains, Acuna paints a disgustingly beautiful scene and a truly terrifying last-page reveal. While it may seem to slow in some issues, Uncanny Avengers 25 reminds me why I’m still invested in the story of the Unity Squad and sets the state for an exciting event.
5 out of 5 Goat-Faced Girls