There are more plot-specific spoilers than usual this week. Be advised!
UNCANNY AVENGERS #017 — Um. Wow. Should someone tell Remender that they’re about to release the new Captain America movie? Seems like last time that happened, it nuked Brubaker’s quality years-long plot involving Bucky coming back from the dead to wield the shield and so forth, and then but before we knew it, the book was back to pretty much the same status quo it’s enjoyed for decades. Now that it’s time for that Winter Soldier business to start playing out at the Mighty Marvel Multiplex, here we are, one month out and, Bro, Remender just really killed Steve Rogers. Not just that, he had The Grim Reaper eviscerate the shit out of the poor guy. Blood eeeeeeeverywhere. Then, for an encore, Thor fails and a Exitar the Celestial Executioner just straight up destroys the planet Earth and then Thor is back on Asgard with his dad and All-Father’s all like, “Yeah, it’s really too bad those humans couldn’t get it together and stop fighting amongst themselves, I had great expectations that they eventually would.” And Thor just can’t like swing his hammer around a lot and make that one better, right? This isn’t Chris Reeve in 1978. The only way I can see to dial this whole thing back is that old infuriating trick about having Wanda say some magic words that completely change the world in the blink of an eye only the thing is she was one of the first people Remender took out, probably for that very reason. Very interested to see how they’re all going to get out of this one. Stunning McNiven art, as usual.
BEST OF WEEK: HAWKEYE #015 — It is a rough day for calamitous cliffhangers! Everything’s going along it seems like pretty okay in the embattled Bed-Stuy world of Clint Barton when that terrifying clown fellow in the white suit shows up at the end and then straight up shoots our hero in the head and then his brother in the gut. Can Wanda not be dead in this one, perhaps? What the hell gives? And the maddening thing is that because of the scattershot crazy way this book is coming out, we’ve already got #016, Eliopoulos’s splendid animated issue is #017, Annie Wu will be back with Kate Bishop for #018, and then that’s going to give Aja enough lead time to actually follow up on this cliffhanger in, cross our fingers, three months? That old Wacker certainly did leave a wibbly-wobbly editorial jumble on his way out the door. Of course, Aja/Hollingsworth’s work on this is as impeccable as ever and Eliopoulos distinguishes himself on letters. Still my favorite Marvel book, no problem, Bro.
FANTASTIC FOUR #001— I have made no secret of my annoyance at being jerked around by Fraction going all Millar/Hitch on the immediately preceding run. I said to myself that I’d just go back to my Lee/Kirby issues or even reread the Hickman run and bail out on The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine. But what kind of True Believer would that make me, Oneiric One? I had to at least check in and see how Robinson/Kirk begin their run. And am I glad that I did! We start out with ominous tidings as Susan Richards lets us all know via an epistolary montage that the FF has fallen on hard times, Reed is no longer with the science and she kind of hates him (!), Ben is rotting in jail, and Johnny is a drunken lout, which, that last one doesn’t seem like too much of a modification. And all of that is via a brief three-page run opening up onto a double-page splash of the team in all their glory versus Fin Fang Foom, everything we’ve grown to know and love about the comic. Which happens a couple more times before the battle is over. It’s a glorious celebration of what makes this team fantastic while returning the series to first principles, four members of a family fighting a giant monster in Manhattan. The sole false note was when the post-battle dialogue between Reed and Sue struck me as a bit forced, but I’m hoping Robinson will ease into his characters’ voices over time. The art is nothing short of wonderful, Karl Kesel staying over on inks, producing dynamic panelwork with Leonard Kirk on pencils and Jesus Aburtov on colors. I am cautiously optimistic about this new chapter in the lives of Marvel’s First Family.
WOLVERINE #002 — I love how Otto/Spidey’s dialogue is CLEARLY him speaking Supervillain the entire time, he’s not even trying to be Parker. Stegman continues to blow it up on art here, channeling the kind of hyper-stylized greatness that we’ve come to expect from JoeMad. I’m not loving Cornell’s take on Logan in this second volume, however. As much as I dug on everything that was happening just a few months ago, it feels like Cornell is spinning his wheels here. And not sure I see the point of having a cliffhanger in flashback. I mean, Otto throws him off the roof before #1 even starts, right?
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #012 — Oh dear, that was a tragic opening scene with the Summers plane going down. This is pretty mandatory reading for folks who have been taking the All-New ride with Bendis’s X-Teens as we get some powerful beats with Scott reuniting with his father and receiving comfort from Laura. And are those sparks flying between Kitty and the Star-Lord? Sara Pichelli proves once again that she can produce pages that can go toe-to-toe with the greatness spilling forth from Immonen/von Grawbadger on a regular basis, very impressive material.
THE WAKE #6 — Yeeeeeeeellow. We flash-forward two hundred years to a world completely overrun by the oceans and the creatures that dwell in her depths. I dig Matt Hollingsworth’s stark shifting of palette but really think that Jared K. Fletcher should have provided some black outlines for those captions, they’re just about unreadable over that yellow sky. Sean Murphy continues to absolutely terrify with the depth of detail in his world-building, that first wide short of the outpost of Wallton is staggering. Or that shot of our new heroine’s home, just gorgeous. I dig the concept of a heroine named Leeward. And you knew we weren’t done with Dr. Archer and going to hear a message from the past. This is pretty riveting stuff, right here.
BATMAN/SUPERMAN #8 — Greg Pak still feels like he has more stories to tell starring multiple heroes from parallel universes as he welcomes back original co-conspirator to a new arc that brings The Huntress and Power Girl into the fold. It’s a pretty cool dynamic, Batman suddenly being confronted with his seventeen-year-old daughter and resisting the genetic imperative to trust her. And I like how they’re both sneaking around not being forthright with the Superman/Power Girl collective. That makes perfect sense. All told, an interesting opening to the arc.
THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS #18 — Hmmmmmm! Pitarra brings the true and holy justice on what are probably his best interiors of the series to date, turning in highly detailed and immaculate work that takes no shortcuts every single page. This issue, we bid adieu to not only the The-Dude-sounding blue alien but apparently another member of the cast that made for quite the HolyShit! last page, even if you could kind of sense that some serious business was just about to go down. You totally get the sense that this is Hickman completely flying without a net or outline and that absolutely anything can erupt at any time. Tremendous madness and hyperviolent fun for all!
BLACK SCIENCE #4 — I hope that this title can always be released on the same day as THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS, they make for such a solid double-feature. Things keep going really badly for our beleaguered cast of characters as it looks like we lose a member of our cast to a flying gang of high-tech Native Americans. Matteo Scalera continues to absolutely tear it up and Dean White experiments with an exotic palette, the effect of which is an interesting juxtaposition with what Murphy/Hollingsworth have going on over in THE WAKE. Another indie success story continues!
SATELLITE SAM #6 — There’s not too much to distinguish this issue from what has come before. Chaykin is still tearing it up. Mike is still screwing and drinking everything in sight. Good times abound.
CHEW #40 — Layman & Guillory return with another installment as they hit the two-thirds point of completion on this landmark series. And Tony Chu spends the issue suuuuper space-stoned, dragging his old partner John Colby into the trip. I am a huge fan of the anthropomorphic versions of those characters, I would love to see a strip of nothing but stoned Tony-Bunny and Colby-Fox completely laying waste to whatever psychedelic landscape in which they find themselves. And it’s wonderful to again get another montage from the twisted mind of Layman, those are always a highlight of this series.
WRAITH #4 — “Mother Mary in the manger,” indeed. The Christmasland kids are terrifying as our cast of irregulars attempts to survive through even a few minutes and find some way back home. I do not like their chances terribly much.