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The Review Brew – December 10 2014

Avengers & X-Men: AXIS #7

Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Adam Kubert
Reviewer: DJ “Leggo O’My Eggo!” Tanner

Events are always a tough pill to swallow when it comes to superhero comic books. While we all want a big spectacle, with a big story that changes everything and brings all the big toys together to crash. But they’ve also become something of a chore. While they still do make the big bucks, they don’t always seem to come together anymore because the story merits such a treatment. While this is general, AXIS has unfortunately proven to be a case of the latter.

I’m probably as big of a fan of Rick Remender as anyone else. I’ve been following his work since his seminal Punisher run, through Uncanny X-Force, and now Uncanny Avengers. The key thing that made those runs so powerful is that Remender was allowed to tell his own story that stayed consistently his. While there was crossover with the rest of the Marvel Universe, these were small and didn’t interfere with the story being told. Sadly though, AXIS has proven to be an easy example of why getting out of Remender’s way is an important factor. AXIS #7 has the same essential problems as the last few issues of the mini-series.

Overall the story has been scattershot with only a few overall plot threads not being farmed out to form an event tie-in. The other problem is the haphazard passing of the baton with the art teams. While any one of the artists involved would’ve been perfect for the event alone, having multiple artists who are very plainly rushed switching around erodes any sense of consistency in the event. Let alone that the art isn’t up to the usual standards of anyone involved. Adam Kubert alone could do so much better than this; Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine was such a classic story in large part of what he brought to the table, when he wasn’t encumbered by a near-weekly release schedule.

In terms of the story itself, the plot is largely what Remender has been building up to all along, and for all the criticisms I have for the comic, when it gets to the plot threads Remender has been building to: like Deadpool and Evan it works really well. However, it’s hard not to see the book as largely a launching pad for tie-ins, while it’s understandable that would happen in an event designed to sell comics, when those tie-ins overwhelm the flow of the story, it’s doing more harm than good. I do think Marvel has been doing very good with the books it has been launching lately: Ms. Marvel, Loki: Agent of Asgard, or Amazing Spider-Man. All of those have been launched, tied to, or have launched events, but even so they’ve remained very strong books, and rightfully so since they’ve been able to avoid strong intrusion from outside the context of the stories they’ve been telling. Meanwhile, the story Remender had been telling about the Avengers Unity Squad, Apocalypse, and the Red Skull has been seemingly hijacked for tie-ins and the Marvel movie line. Which honestly makes me really sad, the creative team involved can and have done so much better than this. I hope to be proven wrong by the end of the story, but so far I’m not really holding out hope.

2 out of 5 praying Deadpools

And Then Emily Was Gone #5

Writer: John Lees
Artist: Iain Laurie
Reviewed by: John Amenta

Note- Reviewer copy, actual issue hits stores on 12/17/2014

Do you like your stories served up in neat little pieces that make perfect sense? Do you hate being challenged by a book you read? If you answered yes, then no, please stay away from this comic. John Lees and Iain Laurie finish off their bizarre nightmare of a tale in ambiguity, but not frustratingly so.

From issue 1 of Emily,it was obvious that this story was going to be different. Lees weaved tormented characters with a setting that can be best described as macabre. Greg Hellinger is an ex cop who sees terrible things. Fiona is a young girl from the Isle of Merksay,who enlists Greg to help find her friend Emily,who may or may not have been abducted. Abducted by a Scottish folk tale called the Bonnie Shaw. Yeah,and that’s barely the weird stuff. Add in another island called Tallyman Holm featuring a nighttime circus/freak show, mind controlling parasites and the weirdest abbatoir in Scotland,and now we’re cooking with gas.

In this issue, Fiona and Greg confront Bonnie Shaw on Tallyman Holm looking to find and save Emily.Bonnie is willing to talk,but not so inclined to negotiate. Nothing goes to plan exactly and a new batch of questions are opened. The ending seemed primed for a sequel series, but works well in the context of the overall story if they choose not to continue. As nothing was really spoon fed throughout, the ending could be seen as open to interpretation as well.

Lees and Laurie crafted a fantastically unique 5 issue series for indie company ComixTribe. This is a horror story birthed from watching too much David Lynch,and eating too much haggis. I strongly suggest giving this series a shot,unless you like your stories ala paint by numbers,then I suggest you run. And pray that your parents never decide to give you to Bonnie Shaw.

5 Twisted Nightmares of 5

Southern Bastards #6

Storytellers: Jason Aaron & Jason Latour
Reviewer: D.J. “Where’s The Off Button?” Tanner

Southern Bastards is one of the best comics coming out at the moment. No joke. People probably hear this regularly, but every issue you read, you get reminded why. Jasons Aaron and Latour are doing some truly career-making work. When you consider that Jason Aaron in particular has become very familiar as the guy who’s done long runs on Wolverine and Thor, seeing him on something like Southern Bastards which is fairly close cousins with Scalped in tone is likely a real kick in the teeth to people coming in from Marvel.

This issue in particular breaks from the harrowing events of the freshman arc to focus on the story of one Coach Boss. One of the meanest bastards (there’s that word again) to walk the dog piss soiled earth of Craw County, and for good reason. I won’t spoil the events of the issue, because frankly you should be reading it. But if you’ve read a Jason Aaron story set in country, it won’t disappoint. There’s blood, guts, pain, hurt, and loss. Along with lots of cussing, violence, and daddy issues. And Jason Latour steps up to bat, I’ve enjoyed his work ever since his Silver Samurai backup story in Wolverine, and he only kicks more ass with each issue. The artwork is more gritty and bloody than your average Big 2 comic, and here it absolutely fits. The lettering is awesome as ever, it enhances the narrative flow of the comic, and it also doesn’t obstruct the gorgeous art. There’s nothing more annoying than a fat caption blocking your view of the art, here the lettering is used as needed, and in a way that its actually additive.

That being said, what’s the overall reason to buy this comic? What distinguishes this comic is that this is one where you can kill the titular main character, and the world moves on. While there of course is going to be a protagonist, the journey of Coach Boss, who he is and how he came to be is just as important as Earl Tubb. The story isn’t just about him, or even Earl, it’s about Craw County. A living breathing piece of society in Alabama with life breathed into it by the Jasons, with designated meeting places in a BBQ shack, and football being God. What they do is amazing in that you’re invested in the future of these people, even the one who beats a man to death with a giant stick. While it’s easy to say that Jason Aaron has a few themes he likes to rehash (namely father/son relationships), he can write the hell out of people. And if you don’t like people, well you can enjoy one of the best artists in comic with Jason Latour. For me that is quite frankly enough. Well… That and the amazing letters pages with the recipes.

5 out of 5 Y’all Hauls


Bitch Planet #1

Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Valentine De Landro
Reviewer: Brett Israel

I was excited when I first heard that Kelly Sue DeConnick would be starting a new creator-owned series at Image Comics. I was even more excited when I heard the title “Bitch Planet”. Since then, I ignored previews and interviews about the book in order to get a blank slate for starting the series. Name aside, Bitch Planet is a tour-de-force that may be one of the best first issues I’ve seen from Image this year.

The aforementioned Bitch Planet is a planetary prison for female prisoners from Earth. The issue wisely decides not to spend much time explaining where technology is, or how the prison planet came to be. Instead, it focuses on setting up a new class of inmates at the prison, in particular one Marian Collins and her husband’s efforts to get her out while back on Earth. This set up might sound familiar to those who have watched Orange is the New Black, but DeConnick’s story takes a very different turn. Readers will be left with questions about the other inmates or the jail itself, and the issue does a great job of making us care about these characters through just a few pages of details. By setting up then quickly subverting expectations, DeConnick’s got me hooked already.

While the story is fantastic, the art really brings the issue together. Bitch Planet is the first time I’ve seen Valentine De Landro’s work, but I’ll definitely be looking at her other work. Her work reminds me somewhat of David Aja’s with broad lines and seemingly simple cartooning. There’s a kinetic energy through the issue, starting with the first page which follows a woman walking to work in a traditional 9-grid style. There’s a great variety of faces and body types, and I’m excited to see more of what’s to come.

Bitch Planet stands out as one of the best new Image series in a year full of great new Image comics. I can’t recommend this issue enough. DeConnick and De Landro’s work will be something to keep an eye out for in the future.

5 bitch plutos out of 5

About Armand (1261 Articles)
Armand is a husband, father, and life long comics fan. A devoted fan of Batman and the Valiant Universe he loves writing for PCU, when he's not running his mouth on the PCU podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @armandmhill
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