DC’s Issue #0’s started this week, but was there anything of any real note in them to check out? Couple this with a light week from Marvel and on the Indie front should make this an interesting Pullbox! Find out below!

Marvel – Venom #24 – Hellstrom has brought the demon inside Flash Thompson to the surface, but is he strong enough to force it back down? Or is the symbiote even stronger than both the possession and in his host combined? Agent Venom must find help as soon as possible before whatever it is inside him ends up destroying him though.

Seeing the Venom symbiote’s ferocity again like it was in this issue was a refreshing sight and seeing what Thompson’s desperation would push him to do again made this issue a fun read. The end reveal of what Hellstrom’s master plan felt a little cheesy and a little more oddball than I’d expect from the son of the devil, but could be entertaining if pulled off well in the next issue. As is though, I’ll be picking it up just to see what Venom does next as the demon inside him is ready for an interesting fight!

Marvel – Avengers Academy #36 – The Clean Slate nanotech meant to de-power the world of all its superheroes is ready to go and the Academy’s revolt against the plan has pushed up the timetable of its release by Jeremy Briggs! Half the team still has to reclaim their powers though if they have any hope of going after Briggs and his hired help in time to stop the missiles full of the nanotech.

I haven’t loved every issue, but most of Avengers Academy has been a fun and entertaining read and this 4-issue story arc has been no exception as you finally start to see many of the characters come into their own and mature. Much how real people might if there were in a real academy tailored to folks with super powers. The entire story does have a bit of a funny feel to it though as it’s also a bit too neat at certain points. It makes me feel that this is all just some Danger Room test or something and the last issue of the story will end with the kids coming out of stasis or the like. After all, how would you figure out if a bunch of super powered kids were ready to graduate to the big league? Maybe I’m reading too much into it. Either way, this book is only good at this point depending on how early you got into it, being the most rewarding for fans who’ve been there since Issue #1. As is, you might want to wait until after this story.

DC – Batman: Detective Comics #0 – Looking to go into the origin stories of every DC superhero, DC’s Issue #0 initiative for Detective Comics tells of one of Bruce Wayne’s last training exercises. In the Himalayas, he searches for a master of martial arts and body control called Shihan Matsuda. There, Bruce will learn some of his most valuable lessons of both mind and body, but they will come at a terrible cost.

I’ve been one of the biggest critics of the New 52 since it started a year ago. And this Issue #0 program is just another poor idea by DC to push comics as it delays current storylines of major characters by another month, forcing us to read stories we already know for most of our favorite heroes. At the very least though, this particular book, that could make sense as part of Batman’s back story, was a good read and helped us learn where Batman acquired some of the techniques that allow him to slow his breathing, control his body temperature, and increase his pain resistance. It also explains part of the reasons why he keeps most people at arm’s length in his never-ending crusade against crime in Gotham.

The worst thing about this book and the rest of the Issue #0 run though is DC blatantly ignoring the histories of some of their most celebrated characters. By claiming James Gordon and the Phantom Stranger (who is next in the Pullbox) just appeared in the DCU a few months ago literally throws away DECADES of history and sends the wrong message to new fans. Honestly, DC should be embarrassed by how they do things now and if I didn’t feel a responsibility to keep reading comics, I’d probably stop. Even with their relaunch of Spider-Man a few years ago, at least they didn’t suddenly change that Spider-Man’s first appearance wasn’t in Amazing Fantasy #15.

DC – The Phantom Stranger #0 – Judas Iscariot, one of history’s most infamous villains, has been brought forward to a council of wizards to pay for his crime against humanity. As part of the Trinity of Sin, Judas must now walk the earth for eternity until he atones for his crime, now as The Phantom Stranger!

The Phantom Stranger’s origin has always been in question, but the constant theme of dealing with heaven and hell has always been there, so making him Judas Iscariot and making his quest one for atonement isn’t a bad idea. And since he’s had so many origins over the years, banging an official one out and making it readily available for the public was a very good idea by DC. But completely ignoring his past 50 years of history though cannot be forgiven and on top of this slap in the face to long term fans, the book itself isn’t even that great a read once you get past the first few pages. Hopefully this can lead to some more interesting adventures featuring Phantom Stranger since he’s been eerily quiet (even for him) during the New 52, but DC better get their act together before long term fans stage a massive revolt.

Valiant – Archer & Armstrong #2 – After dispatching the lower level thugs of ‘The One Percent’, Archer is captured by some more imposing figures. Armstrong is there to help bust him out, but not before Archer has a vision and understands what he must do to save his friends. Now, in the vein of National Treasure and The Da Vinci Code, Archer and Armstrong are on a scavenger hunt around various holy locations in the hopes of finding the six pieces to The Boon, an item of immense power that everyone else is dying to get and only Armstrong has the clues to find!

This was an amazing read and is yet another feather in the cap of Valiant Comics and their triumphant return to Pullboxes and comic book stores everywhere. The dynamic between Archer and Armstrong is great to watch and this epic movie feel to what they’re doing makes it all the better. Not to mention, unlike many other comics out there, this still has a feeling of unpredictability while taking jabs at today’s more prominent organizations like the American government and the Catholic Church. Ninja nuns anyone? Fred Van Lente continues to show off as a tremendous writer in the industry and this is easily my favorite new indie of the year so far. Bravo on every front. Get on this book NOW folks.