Watching anyone “talk shop” and really get into a meaty …
Sam Wilson Captain America #7 doesn’t do much with its title character, but there is a great moment where Steve admits that he respects and trusts Sam despite having differences over what he should do as Captain America as Crossbones beats him up. It’s mostly Nick Spencer and Daniel Acuna’s tribute to the character of Steve Rogers while simultaneously a game changing moment in the “Avengers Standoff” crossover, but a few confusing moments aside, it’s worth picking up to see Steve Rogers written well and heroically even if you haven’t kept up with the “Standoff” storyline. And this exploration of Captain America’s qualities of courage, standing up for the little guy, and genuine care for the friends he made over the years extends to the backup stories of which the Whedon/Cassaday one is the highlight as they lay out the heart and soul of the character in nine fluid pages.
Avengers: Age of Ultron represents the zenith of Marvel Studios’ Phase 2, the culmination of all the films and television shows that represent the Marvel Cinematic Universe over the last two years. Like the first film, this superhero team up pulls out all the stops to astound, taking the audience on a thrill ride of almost unrelenting action.
The Avengers clicked with both Marvel fans and general audiences because we loved watching these massive egos clash for the first time. It was the perfect blend of action and attitude, and its mastermind, Joss Whedon, was handed the golden ticket to Marvel’s keystone franchise. The long-awaited sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron, shows the strain of trying to be bigger-and-better while still indulging the subtle pleasures of its predecessor. It succeeds, just barely, on the strength of a talented cast and our fondness for these characters. Still, it’s a decidedly somber affair that will turn off casual fans, and it stands as the most impersonal, and arguable weakest installment of Marvel’s vaunted “Phase Two.”
Astonishing X-Men “Gifted” is one of those storylines that will make long term X-Men fans purr with delight beginning the Claremont era flashbacks in issue one. (Cassaday mimics Byrne’s art quite well.) It also can turn fans (like me five years ago) of the films and cartoons into mutie and comics junkies. Whedon pays homage to older X-Men stories without getting mired in continuity and quickly places his own stamp on the franchise by creating a new alien foe for them (Ord of the Breakworld), exploring the mutant as outsider metaphor with the cure of the X-gene, giving SHIELD a new branch (SWORD), and also bringing a beloved character back from the dead (Colossus) in a touching, visceral way that serves the long term storyline. However, the best part of Astonishing X-Men “Gifted” other than John Cassaday’s detailed, cinematically composed art and Whedon’s insanely quotable dialogue is the character arcs for each X-Man nestled in the bigger plot.
“New Rules: Part Two” picks up immediately after the previous issue left off, in the middle of a daytime brawl between Buffy and her Scoobies, and a gang of vampires who are mysteriously immune to sunlight, and who can shapeshift into ravenous animals. A daytime vampire battle is unlike anything we’ve seen in this series before, its universe in the midst of establishing a new status quo. When Buffy and Giles look through the “Vampyr” book, they notice a mostly blank book, but also new pages springing forth with new information. The rules of the vampires are currently being rewritten, and as long as there are blank pages, there are sure to be more surprises to come in regards to their abilities.