Well, my darling little girl has a molar or two coming in and decided to wake up furious and throwing up about halfway through the evening’s first issue. We calmed her down and changed the sheets, but she kept getting back up, meaning by the time she was really down for good at quarter past one, I had only made it through both Bendis AVENGERS. Did I let that deter me? You already know the answer! And I have to say, reading Alan Moore’s NEONOMICON by candlelight at 3:30 in the morning was just about the perfect way to do it. But The Business kept unfolding around me, and I wasn’t able to get to reviews until just now. Cry yer pardon!
AVENGERS #3 – Bendis can seemingly do no wrong at the moment. I didn’t hit his SCARLET, but people seem to be digging it, and I’ve made no bones about it over here that he’s just knocking every one of these post-SIEGE reboot issues out of the park. This one’s no exception. We get a serious brouhaha between the team and Apocalypse-from-the-future and his Four Horsemen, who appear to be Spider-Man, Red Hulk, Wolverine, and the Scarlet Witch, the high point of which has our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man making a major save, keeping one of the Big Three from going splat on the sidewalk. And then the talky aftermath is, of course, even better than the fight, just what we expect. Great bit with Noh-Varr on the wall with Spider-Man and –Woman. And JRjr continues to just destroy it. One of my new favorite monthlies.
NEW AVENGERS #2 – And, yeah, killing it here, too. Immonen has always delivered quality pages, but he’s really raised his game on this title. Highlights here include (huh, again) Spidey running around trying to keep Luke & Jessica’s baby safe, the Thing vs. 20-ft tall Power Man, “Oh, I thought that meant it was cold outside,” and the potential End of Everything! Either one of these books really does the franchise proud, taken together, they’re almost too much to bear. Not to mention the crisp oral history serialized in the back of both books, totally earning the $4 price point.
Something that occurred to me, I guess when Spidey was saving Tony’s bacon back in the first book, was how silly it is that industry heavies aren’t writing all the feature films. I mean, I know not much about Hollywood makes sense, but whoever you tap to write your next Spider-Man screenplay, no matter his pedigree*, Bendis has pretty much got him smoked. Dude’s been writing monthly doses of the Ultimate incarnation for a decade. Ten YEARS, people. He knows what makes Parker tick. And that dialogue just sings, man. They’ve got Johns working on Flash and Captain Marvel, right? Why wasn’t he tapped to write the Green Lantern flick? No slight on Guggenheim et al, but come on, no one in this world has a bigger crush on Hal Jordan than Geoff Johns, and he would do it right, again, has years worth of monthly experience under his belt. Same deal with Morrison on Batman and Superman. Ah well, seems obvious to me. Hollywood makes Marvel and DC look like they’ve really got it all figured out.
ATLAS #3 – Man. I’m bummed. In all the Comic-Con aftermath, just stumbled across the apparently old news that Jeff Parker himself pulled the plug on this one, rather than limp it along through a bunch of other crossover and event gimmicks. Which, it must be said, if launching with DARK REIGN, then filtering the title through both X-Men and Avengers franchises before relaunching it under the new HEROIC AGE branding didn’t do the trick, not really sure what else you can pull. It’s a shame, this book more than almost any other on the stands epitomizes that kick of GoshWow that comics can provide better than anything else. I mean, “A spy, a spaceman, a siren, a mermaid, a robot, a gorilla.” That shit sells itself**. But, here’s the eulogy and we’ve still got two months to go. As for this issue, it’s nothing really special in the scheme of the series, just more quality. Jimmy Woo leads the team into great danger and things look particularly bleak by the end of the main feature. Hardman and Breitweiser have never looked better. The back-up story is just as engaging as the lead. Really going to miss this book.
NEW MUTANTS #15 – Well, the dust has finally settled and the original X-Babies have weathered the Second Coming and made it to the Heroic Age proper. Wells wisely spends most of the issue giving us some down-time, letting the team (I still want to call them kids, but I guess they aren’t any more, right? Hard to believe these characters have been getting published for almost thirty years) decompress. My favorite part of the issue was the chemistry between Sam and Dani, him breaking down his meeting with Cyclops for her. Rang so true. Enjoying Kirk, late of CAPTAIN BRITAIN & MI-13, on art here, he’s doing fine work.
X-FACTOR #207 – Oh, and it’s a noir PI book, again? Okay, no reason not to drift back on over to the book’s original premise, that is what we all signed up for in the first place. Maybe Hela shouldn’t have been on the cover. I mean, not that we wouldn’t’ve figured it out pretty quick, but it deflates the suspense just a bit when there’s nothing mysterious about the femme fatale client in the opening scene. The bit with Mordo was deftly handled. Layla Miller reminds us that she can still steal a scene. And the cover for next issue is a great follow-up to the last beat of this particular installment. Good monthly fun, right here.
Man, did Marvel just whip DC this week, or what? My ratio is usually something like two DCs for every Marvel, but da Q and company dropped a solid amount of quality and DC barely stepped up to the plate. In their defense, I am tradewaiting LEGACIES and I bet Garcia-Lopez crushed that, but seems like if you’ve got Morrison putting out four of your titles at the moment, you might want to at least schedule one of those to come out the same week as Comic-Con, generate some buzz. Oh, well. What did I get from the Distinguished Competition?
BRIGHTEST DAY #6 – This one felt a little bit more disposable. Maybe I’m just not caring about J’onn, Firestorm and the Atlantean royalty as much? The double-page spread of the latter was certainly well done, but didn’t really justify the sticker price. This is the first issue of this to head into Meh territory for me, hope it bounces back in two weeks or it might already be time to think about the chopping block. I’m hemorrhaging money with all these $4 books!
DV8 #4 – I also didn’t find this one as engaging as the previous installments. It wasn’t bad, I just had trouble locking in and caring about old Matthew Callahan. Didn’t seem like this issue added to the tapestry of the story in the way that the past two did. Again, not bad, better than most series, it just didn’t hit me as hard as what’s come before has conditioned me to expect.
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #3 – Surely that can’t be it. As much of a deal as they made of it ahead of time, if Earth-Man really is done with the ring, that’s far too abrupt for my liking, wasting a very interesting dynamic. But, too early to tell. And it isn’t like Levitz hasn’t built up just a ton of goodwill. As usual, quite a bit goes down this time out, they deal with Saturn Queen, have fun with Green Earth-Man on Dagobah, set up a sleeper cell of Durlans who’ll no doubt be up to mischief soon, and then we close out with an image guaranteed to get even the most jaded Legion fan’s (is there even such a thing?) mouth watering.
ALAN MOORE’S NEONOMICON #1 – Ah, the Wizard of Northampton descends from the lofty literary heights of his second novel (which sounds like it’s going to be way on the far side of ULYSSES, just madness) along with his idea-colliding magazine to grace us with another sequential narrative. And, no surprise, it’s an engaging and entertaining read. A bit of a slow burn, but there’s nothing wrong with that. This reads exactly like what I imagine happening if they brought in Alan Moore to write an episode of LAW & ORDER and he mandated that he would only do it if Cthulhu is the one who Did It. We get to know the cops through dialogue that always strikes the balance of flowing naturally while giving us enough exposition to make sense of things. Interested to see where this goes, particularly in light of the reports for months that drawing this was giving Burrows the worst nightmares of his life. The fact that nothing even close to inspiring anything like that appears this issue only heightens the dread. As previously noted, ideally read at 3:30 in the morning by candlelight with that last half glass of wine you’ve been saving to see you through to the end.
BEST OF WEEK: SCOTT PILGRIM’S FINEST HOUR – It’s not really fair to compare the final volume in one of the most influential and popular comics to be released in this entire decade to a bunch of 22-page singles, kind of like bringing a bazooka to an arm-wrestling match, but it’s almost impossible to coherently argue against the fact that the best thing to come out this week, by far, is the final series of chapters bringing at long last to a close the epic epic of our guy Scott and his memorable cast of characters (Wallace Wells is my co-pilot).
I ran red lights on the way to Austin Books & Comics, where they were having a midnight release party on Monday the 19th. My cohorts in The Robot Murders were unable to join me, so it was with a heavy heart that I walked in on the winners of the Rock Band tournament*** delivering their encore to those gathered in the back-issues room before I headed back up front to loiter by the cash register and actually managed to score the #2 position in line with five minutes left to go.
So, I bought it right at midnight and ran out of that place just as fast as my legs would carry me, and am only just now realizing that I’ve done this a few times for albums (Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness, say) or movies (WATCHMEN or, most recently, IRON MAN 2), but have never bought a comic at midnight, and isn’t this one right here the perfect blend?
I came home and read it once and loved it and the only thing to do was read it again right then and there on the couch, which, thematic from the title page, right? I am now, just one hour shy of week later, going to read it for a third time and let y’all know exactly how it’s hitting me throughout.
Any time I see a door without a wall to frame it, it takes me right back to that beach, Roland’s infected stubs pulsing hot infection up his arms before he draws the three.
So great to have our guy on the couch for the title page. Aaaaaaand, so begins the finest hour. It’s always darkest before the dawn, buddeh!
I know we saw him for like a page that one time in I think it was volume 3? but because of how close everything butts up against itself here in the Summer of Scott, it’s impossible to see Gideon on the page and not conjure Jason Schwartzman. This, however, is not a bad thing, in the way it would be if I was hearing all of Scott’s dialogue delivered by Michael Cera. Or, worst case, cross our fingers, nonono, George Michael.
Is “Things Stop Happening” the first chapter title that ISN’T a straight lift from a song? I haven’t been keeping up. (Hell, I just placed “It’s Only Divine Right” in Volume 2 this last pass through)(though in my “defense,” I’ve only been a New Pornographers fan for exactly 24 days as of this writing, but storming the beach HARD to make up for lost time, oh yes)
Wallace keeps being my favorite character, and him pssssssing with his eyes closed and the door open somehow really reinforces that. Then, just when the scene can’t get any better after Wallace tries to take Scott to Hooter’s, we get Zola’s J’accuse! Maaaaaasterful. So well played, it hurts me. Wallace can pretty much sit out the rest of the volume and retain his status.
(which, excepting that wonderful “Better comebacks, Scott!” cameo, he does)
That second dream, the nightmare, when the toothy beasties come out for impaled Scott and then turn into toothy Knives and Kim and Envy, man, O’Malley’s really really come a long way since Volume 1 (which got the job done just fine, thankyewverymuch)
Of all the brilliant character distillation titles, including every single one Fraction’s lift/dropped in these last two years of UNCANNY, “Sketchy-ass 24 year old,” of course combined with the visual in the panel, win win wins. Way to mirror reader expectations.
But then, oh, the Memory Cam. I hate hate all of that text talk lol omfg bullshit, but man, O’Malley elevates it to a thing of perfect beauty here.
Montrealhalla!!!!! Four exclamation points aren’t going to get it done for that one.
“yeah totes” The Memory Cam is very possibly the greatest thing about this entire 1,200+ pages.
Oh man, and he had me with that two-page, I’ve been totally pining for Scott and Kim to get back together (for the record, I still can’t understand what Hermione sees in that ginger when she’s got the Real Deal for a best friend, right there). But, no.
So wait, does the talk in the woods with Kim mean that we were rocking Unreliable Narrator and the entire first chapter of Volume 2 is malarkey? Combined with my good friend Memory Cam, that seems to be a pretty inescapable conclusion.
The layout of those two pages of Scott taking the elevator down into the Chaos Theater. Another power-up for B. O’Malley. Quality work, here.
Haha, only caught Young Neil playing the arcade version of Time Critics just now.
Oh man, and then Envy descending completely evokes Kidman as Satine, and I mean that as like hypersuperlative praise. One person wrote and drew this!
And then, immediately, that first fight, he lays it on so thick. PUMMEL as sound effect. Gideon stealing the sword. The WHAT A DICK! caption. Scott calling the secondary characters secondary characters. Straight up Empire. And then Scott dies.
I love how the reactions keep intensifying, ending with the juxtaposition of Joseph drinking and not really giving a shit next to Stephen who of course feels the opposite, then Kim even in the boonies senses a disturbance.
And Ramona finally shows up halfway through. Best, though, I was so shocked that he got killed, completely forgot about the 1UP. That is some deft and smooth shell game shit right there, I mean, I read that very scene maybe three days before hitting this volume for the first time, but there was so much going on, that grinning 1UP was the last thing on my mind.
Wow, the Ramona/Gideon alpha/omega flashback in three pages. Out of control.
And then, that Star-purse shattering is one of my favorite pages of all time. Aesthetic+Symbolic.
“I may have spiced them up a little.” Okay, does that mean GGG is responsible for the first chapter of Volume 2. I don’t know, but if Thom Yorke and the lads ever give me the power, they will play “Sulk” live, just that one time, for me. Best key change ever recorded. (D→E)
Then it looked like O’Malley was going to puss out with Gideon’s own sword just happening to land in his chest. But the next two pages (“I will punish you,” “I concur,” and then STRIKE resulting in a goddamn Z), perfection.
The look on Scott’s face when he’s quoting Kim’s “It just takes practice” line to Ramona on the elevator is pretty much the 1-UP facial expression.
And Stephen’s gay for Joseph, massively obvious in hindsight, leaving Scott and Kim to rekindle an undoubtedly superior White Stripes v. 2.0 (love the “bee-leavah” spelling)
And Knives saying goodbye to Scott, her last line evokes this whole other tangent for me that I guess I’m going to go into later or not at all, as it would really disrupt the flow here and now, but let’s just leave it at that. We wish Knives well. Maybe she’s the sequel, even.
Oh man, and then that last chapter still just melts my heart. Their forms become one. Their forms become one.
There’s really nothing else left to say.
*all right, I just checked and apparently James Vanderbilt is doing the Webb Spidey reboot, and while it’s not like getting, say, Zak Penn to do it (because, yeah, we’re chalking up everything that was great about the latest HULK to Norton and totally blaming Penn for gutting thirty years of continuity just so Brett Ratner could take a dump all over the X-franchise), I’m not like in love with his work. ZODIAC was pretty solid, but look at the director and cast, and I’m thinking that any enjoyment I derived out of BASIC was just overexcitement at seeing Jules & Vince back together again. Bendis Bendis Bendis.
**and aren’t the quotes around “reformed” in M-11’s bio maybe the greatest thing of that entire pitch-perfect opening page?
***and, truth be told, those kids completely blasted away any lingering sense of rivalry or usurpation or jealousy I might have still been feeling when I looked up a few seconds before midnight and caught the way that the drummer (in costume as Kim Pine) was looking at the guitarist (I think in costume as Stephen Stills?) while he was telling a story, and she was just like TOTALLY IN LOVE WITH HIM, plain as day right there for anybody to see, just how she was staring at him, and you know, maybe they were and are even a couple, but also maybe not, maybe it was still secret love just about to burst through all the containment, maybe even tonight, maybe in five minutes! and it was so in line and pitch perfect with the tone of the story, it really really solidified the feeling that this was a living and breathing narrative that had long since escaped two dimensions and black & white