Friday, July 30, 2010


So, of late, I’ve been leading with whatever AVENGERS book is out that week and then working my way around to whatever installment of Morrison Batman we get our grubby little hands on, but with Hickman’s FF in the mix, thought I’d flip it just for fun. The resultant lineup is a strong walk through most of DC’s heavy artillery.

BEST OF WEEK: THE RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE #4 – Kicking off with my man lost in time. Wish I didn’t know that Cameron Stewart was originally booked for this gig (pulled to get started on THUNDER WORLD, I presume?), because, even though Jeanty’s work here is a big old leap above his thirty-odd issues on BUFFY’s latest season (particularly the double-pg spread early on of Gotham, his style might have trumped Stewart’s for at least that shot, we didn’t need slick and polished, but more scratchy, grainy, just what Jeanty delivered), several page turns left me pausing, trying to reimagine the visuals as provided by Stewart’s pen.

But be that as it may. What we have here, as before, is pretty much the be-all end-all ultimate version of whatever concept happens to be in rotation. This month, we get the Batman western. And maybe it’s just because avenging gunslinger is obviously a better fit for our guy than caveman or Puritan or pirate, but I think I dug this one even just a little bit more than what’s come before.

Nice imagery on the last panel of the first page, there, back to the old red and black, the reflection in blood of Daddy’s silhouette while he’s twisting in the wind.

Great prose style, a lot more purple, appropriate to the genre. “For there was nothing of chance that night and all of a subtle, terrifying design.

Jeanty appears to break the left→right rule of flowing motion with that last shot of Hex riding off into the sunset, but it works for me, kind of sets up a symmetry with the opposite page.

Was there an eclipse? I couldn’t find mention of one, or an image. Poor old Bruce just got shot, fell in another river (how many times has that happened now since the end of R.I.P.? Has it in every issue of this series? The only one I can’t recall one way or another right off the bat is #2), and stumbles out into, I guess, 80s Gotham? What’s the archetype here? White collar douchebag? It’s always been clear before, but I’ve got no idea this time. Also don’t even know who’s drawing next issue, which is kind of wonderful.

So, now we haven’t seen Superman and his crew since Bruce abandoned them at the end of #2. Wonder if they’re coming back in this title or if they’re just off in Jurgens’s mini for the duration?

It’s a delight to get all of these stories, Morrison going nuts with Batman. So glad that R.I.P. turned out not to be the end, but actually the springboard for an insane second act, which I guess is winding down about now. Can’t wait to see what it’s like when Bruce finally makes it home and gets serious about franchising.

ACTION COMICS #891 – First of all, I love that the cover doesn’t even remotely resemble anything that occurs within this issue. Bizarro is not so much as mentioned. That’s wonderful.

The first issue was a little bit better than I expected, but that always creates a burden on the next chapter, once we’re a bit surprised by the better than good, we crave another hit, the team’s got to keep mixing it up to give us what we want.

(and, okay, here’s as good a place as any to say that coming off a second weekend of INCEPTION, this was one strange series of reads. Like half of what I bought is a western at least for a little while, and right here, well, what is the Mr. Mind-spawn doing but failing to perform straight-up inception on Luthor, the entire freaking issue is a dream. Lois-bot as Bride of Luthor!)

The throwaway consciousness legacy getting passed down through 8-D RNA has got to be my favorite line of the issue. Or the entire This Is A Job For Luthor bit. But everyone’s going to say that.

At the moment, this issue seems like filler, at least as far as the big picture goes. But, at 30 pgs (RoBW was 32, if we’re keeping track), it was certainly an entertaining ride. Which is what we pays our money for. Cornell and Woods have got me coming back for more.

GREEN LANTERN #56 – I know I say it every time, but I can’t believe this is the guy who drew SUPERMAN BEYOND 3D just a year and a half ago. What a crazy stylistic sideways leap. This one’s all right, but lately I haven’t been feeling the Johns love on this title, I guess during and post-BLACKEST NIGHT. It doesn’t feel indispensable and like he’s totally invested in the way that, wait for it, the FLASH run does. It’s certainly not bad storytelling, but it just reads like a serial that’s constructed well enough but without the passion to make the reader invest anything in it. I don’t so much care about Hal and what’s going to happen next, just feel like we’re going through the motions. On the other hand . . .

FLASH #4 – This was the thunder AND lightning. As good as this one’s been off the starting line, Johns and Manipul really ratchet everything up here to breathtaking effect. The title page is maybe the best yet, just gorgeous. To say nothing of that “Nice view” spread, way to freaking kill it, Francis Manipul! And the plot thickening with regard to Barry’s future homicide as the only possible motive is, in a breach of protocol, explicitly revealed. This is everything I want from a Flash comic.

JUSTICE LEAGUE: GENERATION LOST #6 – You know, times are tight, more and more books are making the $3→$4 jump, and I picked this issue up wondering if, as much as I love JLI, this one’s worthy of biweekly support. Particularly in light of BRIGHTEST DAY’s dip last week. So, of course, it’s the best issue yet. I probably have a soft spot for old Nathaniel Adam, followed his monthly for a little while before getting hip to Dr. Jon Osterman and all of his simultaneous perception shenanigans, so there’s that. This one addresses that issue I had a while back with Atom absorbing that blast. Though, is the countdown to metabolizing the energy and jumping back new? Great bit with the moon. And maybe I’m still just expecting less from Winick, but I thought Old Karrie’s dialogue was spot-on. Kryptonite HURTS. Of course, until he and we realize, Nate thinks he’s back in the old West.

AMERICAN VAMPIRE #5 – Ah, the two tales at least bleed together. Not sure where we’re heading from here, but this first arc has to be judged a complete success on every level. Snyder and King both weave engrossing tales, simultaneously anchored and catapulted into greatness by Albuquerque’s stunning linework. Pearl’s pilot episode comes to a satisfactory conclusion, but throw me out of the TARDIS if King doesn’t sledgehammer in a hilarious nod to the Doctah on Page 4. And “It’s my fertile time”? Really? Those seem like needless words to me, Sai. Oh, but here comes Felicia Book. Certainly intrigued to see what next issue looks like, particularly since I’m afraid our dear Constant Writer is taking his leave.

SECRET AVENGERS #3 – Since Steve Rogers and his Black-Ops squad are on Mars, it makes perfect sense to open this one up in the Old West. We can’t get shed of it!

Does Deodato just excel at silhouette swordplay, or what? That one page of Valkryie vs. Nova reminded me of how much I loved Ellis’s year with him on THUNDERBOLTS (ur-DARK REIGN). Ha, and then Serpent Crown Nova just oxidizes Mars. This is out of left field from Brubaker. As much as I love his street-level stuff, with the espionage-laced and still unfolding CAPTAIN AMERICA run being arguably one of, if not the definitive run on the character, those two years on UNCANNY were poop, never coalesced, and I’m really glad to see him just killing some straight-up science fiction hijinx here with this crew.

Why do folks keep setting the scene in Texas? It’s certainly not everyone, but I guess Ellis put a storage facility here in EXTREMIS and then Fraction took Hill back there for a chunk of the “World’s Most Wanted” arc, and now here we are with these Shadow Council guys.

(The first paragraph of Dr. Michael J. Ryan’s interview is a jaw-dropping study in escalation. Where else can you go from original King Kong followed by Harryhausen’s first and only archaeological dig but Kirby Savage Land? It is in no way intended as an insult to the adjacent sequential pages that I found all of this far more compelling)

This is the only $4 book that was just 22 pages. But it delivered everything from a post-Confederacy flashback to a two-page Celestial spread. And, of course, anyone with a heart beating in their breast will be compelled to lay down another four bills featuring our country’s first President next month in order to read the tale known as Steve Rogers: Human Rocket!

UNCANNY X-MEN # 526 – All right, I don’t know if it’s because the finest hour has come and gone, or if Fraction’s just got it down to a perfect mathematical science or what, but, though they used to just gnaw away at me, every single one of the little compressed character distillation titles here is simply perfect. And Dr. Nemesis makes a phone call! Who knew? All the grim ones are suckers for orphans. “You’re thin as a ghost” pulls off the meta-trick of being one of the thinnest examples of Moore scene-transition dialogue that I can recall. Though I’ve got to cop to totally geeking out at Box II in the room with the heart and soul of the old school Uncanny line-up, with Whedon’s first addition to the mythos presiding.

Heinberg’s story was interesting enough, with a nice bit of HOUSE OF M continuity via Copiel, until it ends up just being a commercial for something that came out a couple of weeks ago, yeah? Though it is nice to have Heinberg back. That’s a series worth at least checking in on, I guess.

FANTASTIC FOUR #581 – Man, Hickman keeps on and keeps on. This might not be the most imaginative issue yet (if only because we didn’t check in on Nu-Earth. See? I’m pining for montage updates from a place with such a stupid name! That, sir, is how you extend the Grand Corporate Narrative), but the Great Hunt definitely came from out of nowhere. And now hints of S.H.I.E.L.D. developments? Was the man with the quantum power source Leo da Vinci? Did Agent Richards just tease the end of the mini-series? Or something else, entirely? I’m sure that panel with the white background is going to make a lot more sense in a few months. Edwards continues to deliver solid work. Though I do miss Eaglesham. Can’t believe he got pulled so fast, not like he didn’t deliver almost monthly work for two years with Johns over on JSA. Be that as it may, am just over the moon about this title.

Another really good week to be reading comics.

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