Thursday, April 29, 2010


INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #25 - I just realized, because they went biweekly for a minute there, here we are at the calendar end of this title's second year, really the launch of the third and certainly a definitive and rousing mission statement for 2.0, point being, this entire team has rocked this assignment and turned out one of the superior and tightest runs in the character's history, and we're on like Week 103 or 104 right now, since that not so coincidental startdate, the first Wednesday after the movie rolled out.

Rambling, obviously.

Um. This issue serves as an impressive example of that old saw, the Perfect Jumping On Point. I eagerly await a Fraction/Downey Jr. panel at the next SD or post-SDCC, surely the best rest possible yield of the massive media integration. Hard to keep it all straight, though, buy this one, children, it will charm you the way you like.

X-FORCE #26 - Ah, it's all very well done, but a dear friend of mine spilled the beans, so I couldn't help but just be on the lookout for one of my all-time favorite X-Men to take a dive, so, a shame really, and it just seems arbitrary and contrived to me just now. Nein.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #605 - Strong finish, which, of course we're expecting from the Bru. Wondering what gear we're going to be kicking into here and now, in this post-SIEGE SECRET AVENGERS kind of world. Exciting times. Maybe Epting should possibly wade back in, I mean, come on now.


BEST OF WEEK: FANTASTIC FOUR #578 - Of course. Hickman, out of nowhere on the recap page, tells us that Blastarr's annexation of 42 is the beachhead of the fourth city, and you know what, I really even refuse to cite anything else about this comic because everyone should experience it for themselves, it remains (even with Morrison maintaining his skewed BATMAN run) my favorite monthly periodical of the moment. Everyone needs to be buying this. If you were here with me now, I would be trying to choke you with this. To get ready for the next time I see you, prepare copies of this issue to ward off same, like garlic with vampires. Read this book, you need it as badly as it needs you.


And how about this being an all-Marvel week, literally not a DC book worth the price? This is the last week that's going to be the case for some time, I'm positive.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


AMERICAN VAMPIRE #2 – As these things go at the best of times, this second installment is even better than that killer first issue that made me so so happy. The Us v. Them bit is an interesting twist on the standard mythos, but really, let’s talk about Stephen King. My man lets loose! Going for broke. Hilarious. I’m loving it. And want more candy myself. Those last two pages are gold. You almost get the impression that he’s trying to drop a horror equivalent catchphrase to Show Me the Money! which produces its own unsettling echo, intended or not.

Gratitude and love to the DoubleMc, who let me have his copy after the owner of my local comic shop, who I’m not going to call out by name because, you know, still the local, and a man without loyalty isn’t much of one at all so not screaming his name from the high heavens, but he knows who he is and, Dude, taking this book OUT of my folder and giving it to some other guy was so fucking uncool it just about caused a meteor shower to rain down tonight over the park that my balcony overlooks, because that would be the universe course-correcting to provide some balance on the cool/uncool spectrum that you mussed up this morning when you pulled that shit, My Friend.

DV8 #1 – I was quite curious about this, love the Wood’s work on DEMO, LOCAL, NORTHLANDERS, DMZ, et al, and was intrigued to learn that this was like his dream gig, the pitch he kept resubmitting, think I read this was like the fifth iteration, and it’s certainly a hell of a premise. And execution, never heard of Isaacs or Stratchan, but they beat the hell out of them pictures. Does everything a first issue is supposed to, hope it sells well. Better than I expected and hoped it would be. Starting out with seven little Indians co-created by Jim Lee and ending up with alien battleworld Risk is certainly a fine day’s work.

GREEN LANTERN #53 – An initially solid and intriguing cannonball into the post-event landscape until editorial keeps on going and just blasts through the boundaries of decency and common sense, to wit, panels 2-4 of the final page actually telling you the three other titles that you need to pick up to literally follow these characters, before we get that last panel that, yeah, reminds you not to forget to make it back here next month. I mean, already enjoying the book, but come on.

Meant to open with, too, but hey probably better to close on an up beat, but got a beer in between this and the last issue and spied the uneaten remainder of my wife’s tub of popcorn, popped a few down the hatch like you do, but then realized while picking the kernels out of my teeth with my tongue while reading this book that Johns and crew are really just rocking the summer blockbuster pedal on the floor craziness year round now, it never slacks up, we literally just got done with the madness kick-started last FCBD, 50 weeks later, I guess, and now they’re all like, “Okay, y’all, catch a real deep breath, we’re about to go back under . . .”

The thing is, instead of just picking up one weekly, they’ve sold me on at least trying all three of them this year. BD was a solid open, how can you dodge that JLI team, even with Winick? And same goes for Wein and all the fellas on LEGACIES. Strong showing, gentlemen.

JLA #44 – Couple of funny bits early on, Eisner-nominated writer Robinson (and, seriously, I just can’t understand how this fellow with an admittedly distinguished resume nabs a slot in a year when Jeph Loeb doesn’t get recognized for ULTIMATUM) straight-up steals the Danger Room and works that first word into Dick’s dialogue, which came out much racier than I’d intended. Second bit is in that shield containing the logline/status quo data (what’s the term for that?), he also goes ahead and tells you “Members come and go. The roster may change.” Don’t even bother writing to complain about random people popping in and out. Do you understand?

Bagley draws the hell out of everything. I bailed out on the back end of his USM run but got back on board during TRINITY, and he’s starting to remind me of JRjr, not as much a DC equivalent as taking that one man’s patented approach to the Marvel Universe and carrying it across the street and applying it to the icons, it’s really a pretty interesting thing to behold.

Clearly Robinson was fucking with us on the Faust approach. Every STARMAN fan was like, O shit he just brought back Jack, fuck and damn.

But it turned out all right.

X-FACTOR #204 – Weird to read the recap page from the crossover, made it to the last paragraph just screaming in my head, “But, how are the girls?!?!? What have they been getting up to lately? Are they both married off with kids, by now?” As for the issue itself, another more than competent affair from David, DeLandro, et al, it will be interesting to see how we get out of this cliffhanger. Total faith in David, whichever way it goes.

DARK TOWER: THE BATTLE OF JERICHO HILL #5 – At last. Talk about bringing it home. This entire time, no matter how well David has crafted dialogue and arranged Furth’s beats, all the gorgeous vistas that Lee and Isanove have given us, the elements have never managed to synergize and produce an effect anywhere close to as intoxicating as the original source material. Well, you had to read every one of these issues and all five thousand and change pages of the prime text, but they lock it all up together in a really beautiful and elegant way.

Again in the last two pages, we suddenly lock up with Hickman’s brand new S.H.I.E.L.D. catchphrase and it’s quite the odd effect.

Initially couldn’t bear to go past the last page, the end was too perfect, but have now barreled on through to Lee’s unadorned pencils. The man is a genius. The layouts, too. Any artist worth his or her salt needs to be giving these a good hard squint or three at four in the morning.

BEST OF WEEK: JOE THE BARBARIAN #4 – This one really gets a little bit better with every issue. And I was so sold on the first. This time out, Murphy continues to dynamite our expectations, a new character joins the merry band (one who provides more than her share of forward momentum, looks like), we catch a hilarious glimpse of what the dwarfs have been up to since going off-panel, and Joe gets a little bit closer to lapsing into a full-on diabetic coma. That double-pg spread when they're walking up to the castle, man, you can see Joe's fingerprints on it!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


SIEGE: LOKI #1 – Picked it up solely for Team Phonogram. Of course, didn’t realize until a very few pages in that that meant there was a pretty low ceiling in terms of how much I was going to be able to enjoy this very well done tie-in that, yeah, is probably by itself going to do the numbers that all seven SINGLES CLUB singles did combined and McKelvie will now be able to eat a little while longer, which is of course of paramount concern, it’s all you ever hear about, so we can all just rest easy on that for a few weeks or couple of days or I don’t know how fast he burns through his check, maybe that’s the problem, surely Kieron’s thought to look in on that by now? at any rate, nice of Marvel not to charge us $4 here for no reason in the world that I can discern, great bits in this particular sequential narrative involving the Disir and that splash with the twenty-four little panels overlaid like it’s not a big deal at all, magnificent and wonderful and still such a pale shadow of what we want and need, more and more PHONOGRAM, all of the time.

NEW MUTANTS #12 – Don’t know this Roberson fellow but he does just fine in here. Wells returns after being spelled by Kieron, who maybe might want to consider using all of this sweet event tie-in cheddar to pick up some tabs for McKelvie, so that he can put on however much weight or pick up enough other jobs or whatever the necessary required ruling is to get going on a Series Three. Off-point again. It was more fun than I expected to see Cameron Hodge’s head get removed from the biped and returned to that nutty body that I can only ever remember as drawn by Bogdanove in the strangest event artist tag team that springs to mind, at the moment (Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld being the other two guys, I mean, taken in succession, that is one funky strange ride through nine issues). Great cliffhanger with Illyana. Dug Sam’s Cyclops-Beta attitude, perfect fit. That shot of Archangel’s wing-blades raining down was a beaut.

And then DC/VERTIGO opens up a can of whupass:
(not even counting DMZ, such a strong showing this week)

FABLES #94 – I quite enjoyed that Lapham two-parter, but then we get back with the regulars and hit the afterburners on the first page. SO much happens in this issue, a nice dense read for us folks showing up every month. King Cole and Ozma’s exchange was probably my favorite. Well, after that first scene. Fine work all around. I’m not one who’s been saying that lately this book’s quality level has dipped, but if you are one of those folks, I’d advise you check this issue out and eat your words, and welcome back.

THE UNWRITTEN #12 – And Then The Thunder. This book is now officially infinitely better when it does not feature its protagonist. We were still chalking #5 up to some kind of Mercutio lightning fluke, a better series stealing the show for a minute, and don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against Tommy Taylor and am totally on board with him and his plight/quest/etcetera, adore every beat of #1, the premise and hook teased out to perfection, but while both main arcs have been entertaining, they’re nowhere near the level of that pilot episode and the now plural digressions we had for #5 and, seven months later, here. And, it should certainly be disclosed, I’m spending the days reading children’s books and comic books to a voracious sixteen-month-old girl, so am maybe the ideal target demographic for this sort of thing at the moment, but you know you’ve got a winner when toward the end of the issue, you realize you’ve maybe got ten contenders for Best Single Page in your mind and, I mean come on, that’s almost like half the book. Good show, Gentlemen. Mr. Bun will never be forgotten.

BRIGHTEST DAY #0 – This was exponentially better than I expected, and I was looking for it to be pretty good. Johns and his old lanterneditor-turned-copilot team up with until now go-to fill-in guy extraordinaire Fernando Pasarin, and this kid knocks it out of the park. A-game stuff. This book has the initial feel that it’s going to move in all the right ways like 52, except this is, at first blush, a much more interesting cast. The crazy thing is, for all the talk of brighter days, tonally, it’s maybe just barely a notch down the dial from BLACKEST NIGHT. I mean, if you’ve been reading all this stuff at least since Meltzer showed up, held your head up above the resultant tide of DARK, then we’ve had all this buildup to how it’s going to be great and shining and mo better and heroic here and across the street, all that, and then the baby bird dies on Page One, it’s a good thing I wasn’t in a crowded room when I read that one because everyone would have gotten a high-five and it would’ve taken forever.

This issue has to do quite a bit. It’s setting up, I guess, a 26-issue bi-weekly ongoing? With 12 main characters. Quite a bit of heavy lifting that’s executed efficiently. PLUS+most importantly, the four pages with Flash are some of the most kinetic stuff I’ve ever seen with any iteration of the character ever, I mean, take a look at that shot when he shows up, that is some seriously iconic business, and it’s not like we haven’t been drowned in pretty sick Barry Allen art the past year and a half. Had to raise an eyebrow at the next issue on the stack, too. Winding down: Fantastic pilot. Certainly a book worth four dollar bills. Definitely on board with this, though old Gleason’s going to have to crank it up from what he was doing on CORPS to step to with Reis, my man.

FLASH #1 – Have been really looking forward to this, but not as much, certainly, as Johns has been to writing it. It shows. He’s having so much fun, and dragging everyone along with him just like in some speedster’s wake whirlwind, you can’t help but enjoy the ride. Manapul is even more cartoony and idiosyncratic than he was on ADVENTURE COMICS and it works. Though it’s kind of crazy to see Barry Allen walk into the lab at the Central City PD and have the art style just a stone’s throw from something on the order of CHEW. It’s a good thing, I’m into it, but it’s wild to hold this and think, this is Barry Allen, in continuity, a mainstream title, this is not some alternate or lost story, this is what is happening right now, tonight, on the Wednesday Night Mass signal tuned to Central City, and it looks like this and Barry Allen is texting and having two-pg “Nice to Meet Ya” moments with awestruck innocents and Manapul is even willing to try and run, for a page at least, with that layout insanity JH was pulling with Kathy Kane over in DETECTIVE, and you know, never saw that coming anytime from anyone and certainly not here, pretty impressive little nick, there, though it does of course do little more than call attention to how sick EVERY FREAKING PAGE of that run was, but here I am again raving about some other title than the one I’m supposed to be reviewing, well at least it’s not PHONOGRAM again, let’s just leave off that this one lived up to all of my hopes and dreams, and yet again I was suckerpuncehd when Johns did that trick he always does and gives you a THIS SEASON ON . . . for the last page or two. Lest anyone accuse them of not having an exit strategy for BLACKEST NIGHT, it looks like the maps have been drawn and we’re already heading toward another event called FLASHPOINT summer after next. That Johns is one mathematical cuss.

DAYTRIPPER #5 – Best one yet. On every level. Dave Stewart’s the guy who glides around and the world painting the actual sunsets and Ba and Moon just keep catching him when he comes around and begging out six or seven pages before letting him fly away again. Wondered several times this month if the premise was finally going to wear out this time, surely the boys couldn’t go another round here with this, to such a degree of success as what had come before. Now I’m just more concerned about how crushing the back half is going to be, if I’m going to make it.

Only other thing I'll say about this issue is that it’s going to earn a place on anyone’s Top 5 Depictions of a First Kiss. Me, I’m one of those who puts it closer to the top, but I’m sure you’ll find a home for those two pages at the very least around slots 4 or 5.


BEST OF WEEK: DAYTRIPPER, not even close. I'm barely even talking about the book, you notice. Just go get it, get the rest too if you keep letting them blow by you. Why are you doing that? Why are you going to the store if you're not getting this? Did you show up for the damn plastic ring? Come for the ring, stay for BaMoon. Superior work.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Been meaning to start this forever, and this week of new comics was too incredible not to write about. On to it!

S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 – I’ve been pumping my fist in the air about Hickman’s run on FANTASTIC FOUR since the first issue of his Dark Reign mini came out, and, after getting a look at Dustin Weaver’s variant cover to the first issue, I’ve been really really excited about this one hitting the stands. How could it stand up to such celestial expectations? It turns out Hickman/Weaver/Strain surpassed my wildest hopes for how good this could be. The conceit of this series is that we, via 1953 POV character Leonid, are ushered into the Immortal City beneath the Vatican and told the secret history of S.H.I.E.L.D., which turns out not to have started off with Lee and Steranko in the pages of Strange Tales, but was apparently kick-started by a Brood invasion at the dawn of civilization. Or, more specifically, that manly polymath Imhotep refusing to buckle before it. (Cool Easter egg I missed the first time through, in the panel when Imhotep first delivers the order’s mantra/catchphrase, you can clearly see En Sabah Nur, soon to be known as Apocalypse, just hanging out there in the background with the rest of the troops, undoubtedly forming some proto-Darwinian notions, he’s got that look on his face). Something that seemed off about that scene, isn’t Imhotep a bit on the Caucasian side of things? For an Egyptian living in the 27th century B.C., he’s definitely looking a bit American. Maybe it’ll turn out to really be Reed at the end of Hickman’s FF run.

At any rate, we then rocket through history learning about what other famous folks were also agents of the shield (or, in one case, the spear). Every scene is tight, inventive, and immaculately rendered. Weaver is a force and Strain complements him perfectly (with the sole exception of Imhotep’s skin tone). I’ve seen a few people complain about the antagonist who shows up in 1582 Rome, claiming that if Galileo could beat him way back then, then that undercuts his supposed first defeat, published around 1965. I’d say rather than diminishing Reed Richards and family’s abilities, this serves to elevate SuperScience Galileo and imply centuries of wonders prior to the first published exploits of superheroes back just before WWII, hundreds of years worth of tales that can be explored in subsequent series or, better yet, in the readers’ imaginations, where there are no continuity glitches, no one’s ever out of character, the art is always unbelievable and everything happens just the way it’s supposed to.

THE BOYS #41 – Some horrifying misadventures with Superduper. Had to laugh out loud over that last scene’s resolution, so perfectly in character for Hughie, but then nothing trumps that last panel, the look on Butcher’s face along with the next issue blurb, which almost should have been a thought bubble. Am considering saving these to read one arc at a time, think it might flow a bit better that way. Annie and Wee Hughie’s sweet love does not seem long for this world.

HOUSE OF MYSTERY #24 – John Bolton! What a killer snag for the story-within-a-story. Thing is, I don’t see how it tied into the main narrative at all, it was more of a backup. Am I missing something? Sturges and Rossi show up and deliver another intriguing issue while doing little more than nudging everybody a little further down the narrative. Vertigo is really making it happen lately.

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #33 – Well, it sure lived up to the title, didn’t it? (One gripe, why is it okay to explicitly show the act of aerial sex for pages and pages and pages, but “Them Fucking” has to be “Them F#@%ing”?) Meltzer is knocking his issues out of the park, I haven’t dug the tone this much since Ultimate Drew’s Tokyo arc a couple years ago. Jeanty continues to befuddle me, though, it looks like he can’t draw a character resembling Eliza Dushku to save his life, but then he nails Angel and Spike without even trying. More practice? Great tease about Spike, I’ll be three times more into this book when he shows up. Just hope they don’t feel the need to recreate the infamous Bronze balcony scene. Buffy!

FLASH ORIGINS AND FILES 2010 #1 – This was all right. At $4, it definitely smelled like it was going to be filler when I saw it on the rack, but knew I’d regret passing up a Johns Barry story. Turns out, he nails this premise I’ve been trying to bang out off and on for the better part of the last decade. I always thought if I had just one issue of FLASH, it should take place in like thirty seconds, Linda asks Wally to take out the garbage and all kinds of crazy shit erupts. Well, Johns applies that whole relative time thing to Barry to stupendous effect, even though it’s just fifteen pages of story and three more of set-up. He loves those Rogues!

UNCANNY X-MEN #523 – Of all the artists who have rotated in through Fraction’s run, I’ve definitely enjoyed the Dodsons the most. Such beautiful work, clean lines and a gorgeous palette. We get a pretty heavy focus on Cable and Hope this issue and of course Fraction nails their characterization in about a page and a half. I haven’t enjoyed picking this book up monthly this much since the late eighties, which is about the best compliment I can give it, halcyon days at Greymalkin Lane for me. I hope Fraction plans on sticking around for a long, long time, because there is a very short list of people who might be able to effectively follow what’s already shaping up to be a seminal run, and I’m afraid most of them would decline.

DEMO 2 #3 – After the first time through, this felt like it might be my favorite DEMO or LOCAL story. It’s a study in economy, everything about it is perfect, every line there because it needs to be. After people have been collaborating for some time and felt each other out about as well as they can, at some point, if they keep at it, then they both kick it up a notch (best example of this off the top of my head being Brubaker/Phillips transitioning from SLEEPER to CRIMINAL), and man, it’s a beautiful thing if you’ve been along for the ride. When this is done, I’m going to have to go back and hit Volume One and LOCAL and this all in one big blast to see what kind of a cumulative effect they have upon each other. My favorite part about this issue (well, I adored Cloonan’s art, let’s make it “something I really enjoyed about this issue”) was that I was just positive the dude was going to be the Polaroid Boyfriend from LOCAL #2, I mean, that’s practically the same M.O., yeah? so was just cringing the entire time, positive he was about to show up. Wood says that he expects the resolution to have annoyed some folks, but I thought it was perfect, couldn’t have gone any other way. Of course, I dug the way THE SOPRANOS ended, so I guess your mileage may vary.

BATMAN & ROBIN #11 – Another installment in the gargantuan Morrison run. Damian goes ahead and burns a splash page voicing the suspicion that most have surely been harboring since Oberon Sexton first showed up, so I guess it can’t be true? Too easy? I’m still not used to Dick calling Alfred Alfie, though I suppose it’s logical enough. Can’t believe the “death stroke” line got by me the first time, I would make a terrible ward and sidekick to the world’s greatest detective. Nice how Morrison references the bit about devil worship from a Peter Milligan arc that’s twenty years old. He handles the trick perfectly, Alfred tells us all that we need to know, but it gives you a nice little shiver if you read the original story some time before Michelle Pfeiffer was cast as Catwoman. Between the X-Men run and then on over to Batman, Morrison has been dropping monthly long-run goodness on my two favorite mainstream franchises for an entire decade now. We shouldn’t take something like that for granted.

FEVER #1 – And finally, Brendan McCarthy’s long-awaited ode to Steve Ditko’s greatness hits the stands, and it’s everything I needed. Glorious explosions of day-glo, awkward gangly anatomy, surreal trips through the webwaze dragged along by spider-demons in top hats. Quite a few wonderful moments, from the guy telling Spidey, no it is NOT cool that he called the cops to the horrifying flight of the sorror-fly to the “rhyme” that M’Matrixx taught those dogs eating the unhappy meal. And that last page, I mean, either you’re on board with this book or not, but there’s no way you’re going to hit it and think, “Eh, maybe I’ll check this out next month,” you’re either definitely coming back or probably not giving it another chance. Definitely come back, people. Harrah!

DODGEM LOGIC #2 – All right, all that AND the second issue of Alan Moore’s Northampton publication hits. Not enough hours in the night to read every word and be at all functional in the morning, so I might have to come back later and revise, but for now I will say that of course Moore’s article on anarchy is an interesting read and that the JOHNNY VIABLE strip was quite good. And it seems strange to think that until now, we’ve been living in a world without a comic written and drawn by Alan Moore called ASTOUNDING WEIRD PENISES. Certainly a relief to put those dark days behind us.


BEST OF WEEK: I’m going to give it to S.H.I.E.L.D. by a nose, the premise is executed so close to perfection and I can’t imagine what the next five issues have in store for us. It just barely outpaces FEVER, though. McCarthy is such an original. Can’t believe that Morrison Batman takes the Bronze medal behind two Marvel books, that’s stranger than anything that happened anywhere this week, even in the Moore comic. Astounding!