CASANOVA #1 – BEST OF WEEK. Surely. Was going to save this one for last, but just couldn't wait. Having read at least the first arc of the old $1.99 run through at least three times, this was still a revelation. The colors add so much, didn't think I could have been more in love with Ba's art, but here we are. And the story is such raving madness, don't think I've ever in all these years run across a book whose tone felt so just mainline hardwired into me. Fraction apparently wrote this for himself, only himself, wasn't worried about trying to lock into anybody, but we must have mindsets or sensibilities or whatever you like to call it running in parallel, because I swear he made this for me. This is everything that a comic can and should be, and that's really saying something, because the possibilities are infinite. I want to smoke this comic, I want to snort it, I want to rub it against my face until the pages are blank. Tell everyone you know, this right here, this is the one.
X-FORCE #28 – Fine job. It’s actually really horrifying, I’ve been working my way through the entire original volume of NEW MUTANTS for the past year, was a huge fan from back in the day, but had never read crucial CRUCIAL bits like the original graphic novel (MARVEL GRAPHIC NOVEL #4, I believe they dubbed it, and that is so cute now, Shooter just sequencing them like that, collect them all! I love that guy) and, most glaringly, every single Sienkiewicz issue, I bought #60 randomly back in the day and was sure shocked to see Doug Ramsey, the character that I most took a shine to, just eat a bullet. I think #67 was the book on the rack that month, so I got monthly just in time for INFERNO, but lost interest halfway through the Asgard arc only to jump back in when Liefeld dropped in like a bomb (and, really, for all the shittalking that guy has conjured up around himself, you can’t deny that his appearance on the title was seismic, suddenly you had Cable and Deadpool and, yeah, an entire host of new folks who’ve gone by the wayside, but people were going inSANE for the book month by month, and, aside from Gambit, those were pretty much the last gasps of anything substantial that the twentieth century had for the franchise, which lurched on month by month until Morrison and Quitely arrived at the last second to water the tales with their heartblood). All of which to say: I have been on the long long NEW MUTANTS journey and yesterday. Yesterday. I finally read #86. The last one that I had never read. Because I’ve been down with 87-100 from way back, got six polybagged copies of the original X-FORCE #1 and even when my grandmom died, later my cousin sent me another one that she had in her files based on my assurances, turned my own sweet daddy’s mama into a speculator, people, and yes just stay with me we made it, Cable. All of that narrative, building to Cable’s introduction and transformation of the franchise, to the point that it actually punctuated the first volume and then sold a million or two copies of the new #1, just because of their strategy. Well, quite a ride, really. Cable’s smile said all that need be said.
STEVE ROGERS: SUPER-SOLDIER #1 – Crushing and dynamic. This is a weird thing now with the second time, it’s not like Brubaker ever started treading water on the main title, TWO AMERICAS was good fun and he’s killing it with the new Zemo arc, but I guess Brubaker’s longform, what we might dub The Greatest Steve Rogers Story Of All Time, just cannot be contained in even or especially his renumbered original title. Am I being clear? REBORN was a massive jump in quality, like watching Mal and the gang make the model→name jump from the small screen to the large, FIREFLY→SERENITY, I’m trying to say, and here we are again. Of course, Eaglesham’s destruction has everything to do with it, but all of a sudden, this is the Steve Rogers arc I’ve been waiting for since our boy got derailed just a very few months after the monster arc of Bucky’s return and got sucked up in that war for southern independence, I mean, of course we already had Brubaker back with Steve for REBORN and so fine to have Hitch & Guice as well, but you know, that was the special return and here we are now back on track, business as usual. It’s funny, the fractal nature of everything unfolding. There was no Steve, then after all the reborn flashes, he’s ubiquitous, traveling backward a couple of shipping weeks to show up in Fraction’s IRON MAN before becoming justifiably indignant in his living room at the press coverage of the Oklahoma siege, then, let’s see, this month, he sent both core Avengers teams on their way before heading off to Mars with the black-ops unit, plus, Bendis/Davis/Neary start us out on this surely wonderful nine world lark the trio went on in between SIEGE and the AVENGERS reboot, plus you’ve got him in the core title assuring Bucky that this really is his book now and there’s nothing to worry about, then, not as much out of nowhere but everywhere, they pull Eaglesham off Hickman FF perfection to kill us even softer with this one. Don’t wait for the trade is, I think, the lesson learned from this first issue. For the first time, I am embracing the branding, not curdling into cynical when I see it but wanting to grab strangers’ shoulders and scream, Yes The Heroic Age, try it! They are really doing it right at the moment and showing signs that we might be lingering this high up above the bar for a good little while to come.
BRIGHTEST DAY #5 – That was a pretty ridiculous opening salvo from Marvel. I’m kind of freaked out about it. Maybe it’s the fact that Wacker edited the Cass reprint and didn’t say a word, Cornelius lurking behind Fraction Quinn. Actually . . .
HOUSE OF MYSTERY #27 – I had the biweekly queued up next, but I’m going to need that shot of McCarthy now to get on through. Loo and Lone Star and Let’s see here . . .*
But ha wow, we’ve got red skies in the opening panel mirroring the cover of BD #5. Yes, I have journeyed out of Marvel country. And this is a really strange first page to be reading while typing about it. The captions. I had better dig deeper into my own life story and stop writing about it for a few minutes. Excuse me.
And, yaaaaah, best segueway into a story, best example of a writer playing to his artist’s total mastery, those McCarthy pages are all of a sudden the high water mark of this wonderful series, oh, do I love it. Ha, I write, before reaching the footnote. Glorious.
And, um. That preview. The unfortunate thing is, I bet old one-T Mat Johnson was sitting there banging out this fantastic idea for a post-Katrina New Orleans story called DARK RAIN with no idea that all the Marvel books were going to be called that for a year or that Antoine Batiste and Big Chief Albert Lambreaux and David fucking McIlary and LeDonna and Jeanette and Kermit and all the rest were going to climb into our hearts and take up every little bit of all that sweet aorta real estate. Bug-jumpin and having fun!
And BRIGHTEST DAY #5, the actual review – Wait, fuck, are they sending Aquaman & Mera after the BP oil spill on the first page? Is this a trick or are they really doing it? If so, holy shit, inspired.
Hawkman quoting Heinlein fifty years later really just throws the entire origin back into chaos confusion. I mean, reconciling whatever was being published in 1958 with the entire compressed floating time dynamic, the way ten years can go by for us while we wait for our characters to have a single birthday. Mind the slipknots you tied, Master Geoff!
The two-page Wii ad really killed the momentum, there.
And, wow, speaking of ads, the Colgate MaxFresh campaign has proven so effective that I turned the page expecting to see a double-page advertisement spread, couldn’t wait to see who the kiss would be . . . but the ad was over! It was only more comic. And I felt cheated, wanted more. This is surely the best possible effect a campaign can hope for, some Draper shit, right there. I didn’t want comic, I wanted ad. Ta-doww.
And yeah, right about now, I just want Kyle Baker to show up and take over. You know it would be all right and even bettah.
Wait, Hawkworld? Timothy Truman?!? Last page? Uh?
THE BOYS #44 – Ayegod, Hughie. With Robertson bailing for a year and pinchhitter Russ Braun in for the foreseeable AND the price hike, which, of course is the standard at Avatar and most other places, but I’m so trained to resist Marvel pushing that one as far as it will go that I let it alienate me from this addictive narrative, but all of that to say, I would be a fool to bail out of this thing now, Ennis is a master, it has been a slow burn for such a long time, but that fuse is getting close, so close.
DEMO 2 #6 – Sad and beautiful sums it up so well. I know I keep saying this, but Vertigo's really just destroying it lately. I can't at the moment name a pair of creators putting out books these days who are more simpatico than Wood & Cloonan. Well, Morrison & Quitely, when they work together. But Wood & Cloonan, they're both so talented and have a wide spectrum of strengths, and it's been really wonderful to see them reunite for this second volume of the book that arguably made both of their reputations. I was pretty bummed to already be at the end of this series (when showing the wife the week's comics, as ever, actually said the word "sad" when I got to this one before reading the cover), but the afterwords make the prospects of an eventual Volume 3 pretty good, only a matter of time, after they go kick ass on a bunch of other series for another five or ten years.
BATMAN & ROBIN #13 – What a way to open the second year of this title. Inverting the beyond iconic image Miller & Mazzucchelli gave us way back in BATMAN #404 (this gets me thinking, what are the top five or ten most iconic Batman images? There's certainly going to be a lot DARK KNIGHT, YEAR ONE, and Adams and maybe Rogers and Breyfogle shots in the back end there, but that first cover has got to be way up there). What an insane insane opening six pages. Kind of hard to believe, I mean, that's not really Thomas Wayne, you know? My mind won't let me accept it. But after waiting such a long month to get back to the killer cliffhanger from last month, no one was looking for this scene to kick things off. I guess Dick will find a way to not be dead when we catch back up to the end of this scene, but it sure looks like he got shot in the back of the head. Not sure about that "brief bloom" that Thomas Wayne/The Black Glove says before he pulls the trigger. Anagram, maybe? Bible for Om? Lo, firebomb? Foil bomber?
Dick really tears it up throughout the rest of the issue. It's not that he was ever really lacking as Batman, but he seems to have cranked it up quite a bit by now. Breaking down the joker's ruse (don't know how that domino thing got by me, so obvious), the "I'll call you Commissioner Gordon, sir, if that's okay." So much about this issue is slide-into-place perfection. Gordon's men preferring this latest incarnation, an eclipse on the way, Dick's sprint-for-the-Batmobile horror at the idea of Damian alone in a room with the Joker, the way that that encounter plays out, and of course everything completely derails at the end. A hell of a first issue to the new arc. Not even counting the return of Pyg. The Morrison Batman run is my favorite thing that's happening right now. Oh, but CASANOVA. Still just barely wins.
*and, if it isn't now painfully obvious, rather than read through and then bang out the reviews, this was more like liveblogging Wednesday night. Which was all well and good until it was half past two and I still had to read DEMO and BATMAN & ROBIN. So, just read them and went to sleep. In case those reviews seem suddenly more coherent.