Well, this Convergence is certainly agreeing with my pocketbook! Goodness day, what a light week.
CHRONONAUTS #2 — Now, this is a lot of fun. These guys seemed like fairly serious assholes last time, but Millar does a terrific job taking this somewhat wacky premise and stretching it pretty much to the breaking point. You can tell that he had a gang of fun writing it. This issue is packed full of crackling ideas, oftentimes several per page. The 1961 to 1929 montage is bananas, and that one’s got nothing on what follows later in the issue. And Quinn’s scoreboard is fucking hilarious. Lots of wit to be found throughout all of this time-hopping madness. The real stars of the book, though, are not Millar or his douchebag protagonists, but Sean Murphy & Matt Hollingsworth, who already put it down so hard last year on THE WAKE but really elevate their collective game to a new level here. Really, the cover just about says it all. I love the purples and soft blues and greens that Hollingsworth kicks in as soon as Danny makes it to the palace. They right away create the feel of an oasis almost subliminally; I totally missed it the first time, but that business was working on me. And Sean Gordon Murphy. Man. Nobody can do it for you like that guy. What a monster. Just on every level. So many people sing his praises, but he’s still one of the most underrated guys in the industry. I figured that this series would be good, but these guys are really knocking it out of the park on every level, here.
THE FOX: FOX HUNT #1 — Haspiel & Waid dial down on the Silver Age zany but maintain the Kirby dynamism (and krackle, natch) and overall sense that, hey, comics should be fun to read. Bringing Paul’s kid into the fold is a terrific way to ratchet up the tension here at the top of the second volume. Shinji is already following in his father’s footsteps as a photographer, and it makes all kinds of sense that he’d be drawn to his dad’s other gig, as well. The son priming himself up as an aspiring legacy just as our hero is losing heart in his mission adds a compelling dynamic to the series and will be interesting to watch the creators explore in future issues. Quality tones from Passalaqua make every page pop without calling attention to themselves, and of course you really can’t do better than scoring the lettering talents of the legendary John Workman. And this one is even all-ages-appropriate. Recommended for all human beings.
THE FADE-OUT #5 — Black-and-white SATELLITE SAM mug shots notwithstanding, the creative team is really hitting their stride here and carving out a narrative that’s engaging. Phillips has been so good for so long, it kind of freaks you out if you start to add up how many pages he’s been steadily throwing down with this Brubaker joker over the years. Brubaker continues to absolutely nail the tone and voice that he’s established for this entire family of books over the years. There was one little hitch where our hero mentally tells his drunk co-writer, “You had one job.” This is, of course, grammatically correct but much more evocative of latter-day slang than I think we might want, dispelling the timeframe with a brief anachronism before the mists of Golden Age Hollywood return. A minor quibble, this one’s pretty much perfect. Award for Least Surprising Plot Twist of All Time: Of course Brubaker loves BETTER CALL SAUL. I could have told him that two months before the pilot aired.
AMERICAN VAMPIRE: SECOND CYCLE #7 — That is grim, indeed. It’s too bad that this whole series couldn’t have been Pearl & Felicia for most of the time. The two ladies dial into a really solid camaraderie right off the bat. Vampires in Space! really is a terrific conceit on our way out the door, here. I am a fan. Albuquerque/McCaig continue to knock it out of the park on the interiors, these guys are in the zone.
BEST OF WEEK: UNCANNY X-MEN #033 — I’m way way in the wrong demographic to review this objectively. Twenty-six years ago, of all the complicated latticework of relationships amongst all of the characters who had a place to crash at good old 1407 Graymalkin, my absolute favorite nexus was the triumvirate of Piotr Nikolaievitch, Illyana Nikolievna, and that too-good-to-be-true Katherine Anne Pryde. As with several other interpersonal groupings, Claremont loaded these characters up with enough unique qualities that they could have filled up an entire book all on their own instead of sharing it with fifteen other merry mutants. All of which to say. Last issue, when Illyana grabbed Kitty and they bailed, I was certainly hoping that Bendis wasn’t going to make us wait too long to see where they went. It turned out well for me. Kitty & Illyana vs Monster Island is the medicine that I didn't know I needed so badly. And how about that Kris Anka bringing the justice page after page? As strong as the cover was, I was initially just the least bit melancholy that Bachalo was out of rotation for this adventure, but never mind all of that. No one could have done better. And as much as I enjoyed the entire issue, those last two pages back on the grounds of the mansion are just on another level. Storm only gets two lines, but her second one is a humdinger. And then, though, right there at the end. That last exchange between the two of them snuck up on me and punched me in the gut. Illyana’s “NOT LIKE BEFORE. I MISS YOU AND I MISS MY BROTHER. I MISS THOSE DAYS.” Maybe I’ve just been mainlining too many MAD MEN episodes lately and thinking about the course of my life, but when that demon princess threw down that quiet nostalgia for days gone by out of nowhere, it just about broke me down.
One weird thing, though, on Panel Four of that final page, the one that starts that last exchange. There’s a silhouette of someone watching little Bo run into the mansion after Ororo. The dialogue attribution of the bubble in the panel seems to indicate that this silhouette, who is saying, “YOU WERE RIGHT. WE DID NEED THAT,” is Kitty. Straightforward enough. However. When the pair follows Bo into the mansion three panels later, that silhouette returns in the exact same place in-panel. Which is creepy, like the girls are being watched, kind of? But the fact that the silhouette is exactly the same size as before even though the shot is zoomed in makes me wonder if it’s some kind of Photoshop error that just made it through edits. I don’t know. I was so messed up by Illyana, I missed it the first time, but that’s an odd little beat to land on.