A Week in Ink: Issue No. 49

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The Spectrum

The Fury of the Firestorm: The Nuclear Men No. 7

DC's The Fury of the Firestorm series has often recycled trite story ideas and blended them into a mediocre nuclear smoothie, and admittedly Issue No. 7 does little to alter the tried and true blend.

For those unfamiliar with the exploits of the atomic adolescents, Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch have acquired powers that would make even Oppenheimer shake in his shoes. But far too often, instead of fighting crime, the teammeanders abouttheir unremarkable tales of growing up and facing foes foreign and extraterrestrial.

Writers Ethan Van Sciver and Joe Harris have made marked strides since the series' former issues, fixing many gripes about the characters lacking depth and the completely visible motives of the "mysterious" Zither. Unfortunately, for every issue the team has fought and fixed, there's another that takes its place.

The team just hasn't hit its stride yet, and while that's not a terrible place to be, with DC line-up changes right around the corner, there's little stopping the editorial team from placing Fury of the Firestorm next on the literary chopping block.

Artistically exciting and atomically unstable, the series continues to be at the bottom of many readers' pull-lists and for good reason as the comic's cost of $2.99 is better spent elsewhere amid DC's dwindling weekly offerings.

Avengers vs. X-Men No. 1

Lines in the pages have been drawn and the two most iconic forces in comic fandom stand opposed as the fate of the world hangs in the balance.

Hope Summers, long hailed as the Mutant Messiah, is in for a bit of bad news as the Phoenix Force - the universal harbinger of destruction that killed Jean Grey over 30 years ago - has set its sight on the so-called savior.

Written by an all-star cast of Marvel's most competent craftsmen, the team of Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman, and Matt Fraction has some major spandex to fill, as Marvel's summer event has been a hurricane of hype. And for the most part, Issues No. 0 and 1 don't disappoint.

The team writes incredibly high stakes and does well to sculpt the beginnings of another epic saga. Either Scott Summers and co. repopulate the mutant race through the Phoenix Force, or the celestial embodiment rips the planet to shreds.

Though Marvellites put the Phoenix Force to bed years ago, and the move by DC to revitalize old properties has thrown down the gauntlet between the two iconic camps.

Artistically enthralling, the art by John Romita Jr. and Scott Hanna drips off every panel, as fiery reds engulf the entity that will surely test the heros' mettle. Beautiful and deadly like the Phoenix itself, the art in this issue is truly some of the highest quality in the industry.

Titans collide in the coming issues as the Marvel event of the season may turn out to be just as epic as the enemy the comic writes about.

Voltron No. 4

With people like Michael Bay bound and determined to ruin what's left of the '90s, it's always good to see an old franchise getting a tune-up.

Dynamite writer Brandon Thomas hopes to bring back the nostalgic '90s battlebot, this time with a new crew, a new look, and a new, slightly more mature attitude.

Thomas does well to rebuild the aging team, and along the way manages to teach the world a few secrets about the origins of the Defenders of the Universe, but for those unacquainted with the five-man cell, there's little to enjoy in the fourth issue.

Admittedly, that's the largest chink in the battle-robot's armor. A difficult-to-parse storyline and generally weak dialogue stops Thomas from truly ascending to a nostalgic lore-master, but while just like the lions themselves, when you can put everything together there's something incredibly special underneath the hood.

Artists Ariel Padilla and Marcelo Pinto work well together, creating panels that would make the artists of Beast King GoLion proud. Throughout the issue there are more than a few stylistically impressive moments, particularly the constant juxtaposition of the suburbia of Earth before the Voltron initiative and the battle-wasteland left in its wake.

With the war between Voltron and Zarkon raging on nearly 30 years later, the steep price of $3.99 an issue is all that keeps battle-weary readers from entering the fray.

Email: arts@ubspectrum.com