Each week, 8th Dimension’s Jeremy Bulloch reads every new comic that comes out and recommends some of the best titles for you to check out. Here are this week’s picks (slightly delayed due to the July 4th holiday)!
Avengers vs X-Men #7 (Marvel Comics)
The Phoenix 5 (Cyclops, White Queen, Namor, Magik, and Colossus) are determined to remake the world into a paradise, but they are doing it on their own terms. The Avengers have been branded a global terrorist network and are being hunted down. How DARE they have a problem with a group of morally ambiguous vigilantes being handed absolute cosmic power that has a proven track record of corrupting anyone who has ever come in contact with it? Hope, the designated heir to the solar system-eating power of the Phoenix, rejected its power. Now she is using her insight to aid the Avengers against her own people. The X-Men wish to “save” her from the horrors of free will and self-determination and force her to accept their wondrous new world. Meanwhile, the Avengers have also allied with the long-absent Scarlet Witch, the only mortal that the Phoenix 5 fear. During the infamous “House of M,” a stray sentence fragment of hers decimated the Mutant race, leaving behind only those characters conveniently popular enough to star in the own series, and depowering the rest. They want to capture the Avengers and rub their faces in the wrongness of opposing Mutantkind. Scarlet Witch, well, they want her dead. Black Panther and Tony Stark are too busy “doing science” to try to stop the X-Men, but as anyone knows, the only way to fight omnipotent psychic power is with kung fu. Iron Fist and Lei Kung, the Thunderer, have arrived from K’Un Lun, a magical city that once before repelled an attack of the Phoenix. They claim that they can show Hope a way to do the same thing. My favorite thing about this issue, other than the kung fu, is the tension that has begun to eat at the Phoenix 5. We don’t yet know if the cosmic power of the Phoenix is supplanting their natural personalities, or just letting their real selves out to the surface, free from oppression. Magik has been a borderline super villain for years. Thanks to demonic influence, she barely has a soul to corrupt. Watching her go dark-side is just a typical Tuesday. Her brother, Colossus, was always a sensitive artist on the inside, but his corruption already started under the demon Cyttorak when he became Juggalossus the Colossonaut. Namor was always a big ole jerk-face, but what we’re seeing now is different. He always respected Scott Summers as a leader, but thinks nothing of him as a ruler. There’s a big difference between the two. Namor is one “Imperious Rex!” away from rebelling against Cyclops. Then there’s Emma Frost. Her calculating nature and moral greyness helped to force Scott Summers to grow the hell up and embrace his role as the leader of the Mutant race. The Scott Summers that was still mooning over his high school sweetheart Jean could have never done what has needed doing for the last several years. But what if Emma is no longer exactly on “Team Emma & Scott?”
Earth 2 #3 (DC Comics)
Next time some idiot asks you “Did you hear that they turned Green Lantern gay?” You can respond, “Did YOU hear that they turned Green Lantern into Swamp Thing?” That’s more or less what happens in the most recent issue of Earth 2, a.k.a. the best comic that DC’s currently putting out. James Robinson and Nicola Scott are reinventing the Justice Society of America, and they’re going about it way more drastically than anything in the new 52 universe. Jay Garrick has been given the power of super human speed by the mortally wounded Roman god Mercury. That also explains his hat. We’re being introduced to Al Pratt, the man destined to be the Earth 2 Atom, and a pretty hardcore new Hawkgirl, but the big story is Green Lantern. Last issue ended with Alan Scott, seconds away from proposing to his boyfriend, Sam, engulfed in flames as the bullet train that they were riding exploded. This is actually inspired by his original origin in the 1940s. Rather than being empowered by space aliens, the original Green Lantern was the sole survivor of a train accident where he found a mystical glowing green lantern. Here, they take that basic story and tweak it. Alan is still the sole survivor of a horrible train crash, but instead of finding a lantern, he IS a lantern. The Green, the embodiment of all life in the world has saved Alan Scott. He will be able to channel the power of the Earth itself, and that power will shine forth from him as it would the light from a lamp. He will become the champion of the Green, just like Swamp Thing in traditional continuity. Except Alan’s not made of fungus. The Green charges Alan to defend the Earth from an evil that threatens to destroy all life. That evil was born on a Monday…
Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #1 (DC Comics)
First of all, this is one of the most gorgeously illustrated things that I have ever seen. Jae Lee has always been good, but this is light years ahead of his former best work, the Marvel Knights Inhumans miniseries from over a decade ago. Lee’s figure work is always superb, but the composition of this comic deserves special praise. Dave Gibbons, the artist in the original Watchmen miniseries, used repetition of certain panel lay-outs and shapes throughout the series. Two of the most common were the simple shapes of circles and squares. They were omnipresent, from the classic Kirby 9-panel square grid to the circle of the Comedian’s smiley face button. Here you can see similar shapes as a constant, both in the structure and in the content of the panels. The story is largely an expansion of Watchmen #11, telling the origins of Adrian Alexander Veidt, AKA Ozymandias, the smartest man in the world. Veteran comics writer Len Wein shows us all the little steps that will ultimately lead Adrian to his master plan at the end of Watchmen. The story is pure pulp, which means I was pretty much guaranteed to love it. Adrian had a childhood obsession with Alexander the Great, the ruler of Macedonia who conquered nearly all of the known world before dying from a sudden infection at the age of 33. From his earliest childhood, Adrian knew that he was destined to surpass the works of his hero. He knew that he was better than everyone else, but was also smart enough to know to hide that fact. There is a creepy calm about young Adrian, as he holds himself aloof and distant from the rest of humanity no matter how much he quietly seethes. He is forever calm and plotting, calculating his every action with the patience of a 12th century monk. No matter how much or how deeply he feels, Adrian is able to step back and see all the angles. Even the trauma that causes him to don a costume and become a vigilante is one that he can hold at an emotional arm’s length.
Fury Max #4 (Marvel Comics)
He-Man & The Masters of the Universe #1 (DC Comics)
Animal Man #11 (DC Comics)
Action Comics #11 (DC Comics)
Thief of Thieves #6 (Image Comics)
Worlds’ Finest #3 (DC Comics)
Stormwatch #11 (DC Comics)