The Frugal Collector – Episode 8/29/2012

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I admit, I’ve been absolutely terrible at updating this portion of the site. I wanted to post reviews of the comics that I felt were good enough for me to spend money on, but I haven’t been getting my reviews done in time. To my credit, I did at least start some reviews the last few weeks – I simply lacked the time to finish them in the comic-release week. But no longer! This week, I have three more reviews for you, and for the first time in weeks, they’re actually of GOOD comics. Here are my top three picks, and ones you should move a little closer to the top of your pull lists.

Uncanny X-Force #30 (Marvel, $3.99)
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Hands down, Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force is one of the best X-titles being published. It’s dark, gripping, and downright introspective, which is a rarity right now. In an age where both publishers are attempting to grab as large of an audience as possible by playing it safe and appealing to the movie-going masses, UXF is forcing its cast to make impossibly large decisions about the fate of the world, the universe, and their souls.

Issue #30 is a filler issue, leading up to the conclusion of the “Final Execution” arc. Genesis has been kidnapped by a reformed (or is that re-formed?) Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and is taken on the worst road trip ever. We get the chance to see a bit more of this character and his powers, and it turns out he’s not the pushover he appears to be in sister title Wolverine and the X-Men. I’m not particularly fond of this incarnation of the Brotherhood, though – is there anyone besides me that wishes Sabretooth would actually die for more than a few months?

This book would’ve ranked higher, but there was nothing said about the rest of X-Force after the cliffhanger ending last month. I liked the Genesis story, but would’ve liked to have seen more of everyone else on the team. However, as always, great story, great characters, great art – month after month, X-Force continues to impress.

My Comixology rating – 4 stars (out of 5)

Justice League #12 (DC $3.99)
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After a full year of Justice League, I’m still not sure how I feel about the book. Writer Geoff Johns is telling a decent story, but after the origin of the League during combat with Darkseid, and now the recently wrapped story arc of the hunt for and battle with a ridiculously average-looking villain, I’m starting to get a bit bored. It’s the same problem I’ve been having with The Flash lately: Good characters, decent concepts, but too much sameness.

I thought the New 52 was going to be a great move for DC. The chance to refresh some characters, tweak some continuity, and create a fresh new world is something the DC Universe has needed after the last few years of Crises and Brightest Days. The problem is, too many of the books are just stereotypical hero books. Batman is great, as are Aquaman and I, Vampire, to name but a few. But Justice League, like many other DC titles, lacks heart. It’s a big, bold adventure, with amazing Jim Lee artwork (seriously, the man gets better every single issue), but there’s no substance to it. The League is full of arrogant super-jerks who, after 5 in-continuity years, still can’t seem to work together. There’s nothing “super” about the heroes in this book, which is odd, considering Johns’ regular success as a writer of super-tales. While I was finally thrown a bit of mystery involving Cyborg, after 12 issues, it seems too little, too late.

This book could be phenomenal. Brad Meltzer’s series from a few years back, featuring a similar superstar artist, was consistently amazing, and had me running to the comic shop every month. It had a large but revolving cast of characters that I could actually care about. It still had the big guns, like Superman and Batman, but it didn’t focus solely on them. I’m hoping this new Justice League opens its roster up a bit. The book only really works when the characters can face danger, and with the biggest heroes in the DC universe on the team, that doesn’t really seem like a possibility.

2 out of 5 stars

Wolverine and the X-Men #15 (Marvel, $3.99)
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I won’t sugarcoat it: I love this series. Every month it’s consistently funny, charming, full of character development, and packed with fantastic art by Jorge Molina. Jason Aaron isn’t wasting his time writing another “action” book. Instead, he’s crafting a story of mutants and heroes trying to restore some normalcy to their lives after all the events occurring in the X-universe over the last few years. It reminds me a lot of the school-centric drama during Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men, but with less sci-fi and more comedy. Seriously, I laughed out loud at least three times this issue.

I love this series because it isn’t obsessed with beatdowns and slugfests every issue. Wolverine and his team want to give the younger generation an education and a chance at a normal life, just like Logan, Kitty, and Beast had. I’m sure the status quo will be changing in the next few months after the conclusion of Avengers vs. X-Men and the outing of Wolverine’s clandestine assassin squad in Uncanny X-Force, but I’m hoping this book stays true to its roots and doesn’t take a turn for the dark. It has some great supporting characters already, and the chance to add more of them (I know I’m ready to see a non-evil Professor X go back to teaching), and the writing is a welcome relief from the overall heaviness of the other X-Books.

5 out of 5 stars

I went a bit over my $10 limit this week, and, honestly, I should have replaced Justice League with the newest issue of Aquaman. Live and learn, I suppose. Overall, not a bad way to spend $12. Were any of these on your list this week? Let me know what you think!

-Nate

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