Thursday, September 30, 2010


Small week, this fifth Wednesday, but certainly not lacking for quality. I deeply loved everything I bought and managed to get out of the store for under $20. Win and win! Let’s get into it.

AVENGERS: PRIME #3 – This, right here on its own in five little issues, is more of an event and more impressive than SIEGE, or really anything like that that I’ve seen from Bendis. Davis & Farmer cannot be contained. I mean, from that first two-page splash, they own you, body and soul. We’ve got Thor getting smote, naked Tony Stark on horseback fleeing a dragon before yukking it up with Steve, all flirty in a way that somehow manages not to be homoerotic, and then our boys in hell? Killer plot, but Bendis’s dialogue remains the star of the show, just sings here sweeter than ever. Dude is really at the top of his game right now, and I’m not even reading whatever they’re calling ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN anymore. And I can’t go on enough about how great the art is. This could totally be a filler mini-series, but like I said, it’s getting it done for me better than every event we’ve seen from Marvel in the past decade. Great great work and, yeah, totally worth the $4.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #610 – Brubaker, Guice and company knock this one out of the park. I loved those first 25 issues so much, the best Cap run that I’ve ever run across, but hell if I don’t like this stuff with Bucky even better. Really glad that he got to keep the shield even after big man came back. Wonder if Brubaker’s got an exit strategy lined up, or is just plotting ahead for the next couple of years with no end in sight. Man, I do not envy the guy who has to follow this act.

ACTION COMICS #893 – Yeah, this really is too good. Cornell just nailed it, setting up android Lois as Lex’s foil, because we totally need that interplay, but it would ring just the least bit false if the real woman was actually globetrotting with her husband’s nemesis. Which actually freaked me out pretty good this time, the globetrotting. I jammed the first volume of BATMAN: BLACK & WHITE a couple of weeks ago (which I can’t recommend highly enough, amazing stories in there, top-drawer talent), but all those succinct 8-pgrs set my brain firing and I had to exorcise an idea about the weekly Monday morning pool game that Bruce and Clark always play at sunrise before clocking in as their secret identities for the start of the week, just a couple of bros blowing off steam, but on the last page, Bruce asks about Lois and Clark mentions that she’s off in Uganda working on a piece, and lo and behold, two nights after I first typed the words, we’ve got Lex and android Lois on safari in Uganda, which freaked me out pretty good. But enough about unsolicited spec fanfic, this is another solid slab of Luthor goodness. Sean Chen does excellent fill-in work. Don’t know why he’s not working more, he killed that FF: DARK REIGN series to start out Hickman’s run early last year and this is the first I’ve seen of him since. Really excellent job. Incredibly annoyed with DC for announcing it and myself for reading it, because if I’d hit that last page not knowing what was already coming for this title, think I would have just started running around the room screaming. So great to see her again, after all these years. She really is just the best friend you wish you could hang out with forever and always. Which, I guess eventually you can.

CASANOVA #3 – This pair of issues didn’t just bowl me over when they first came out, but they still make a cracking good read, especially served up side by side and in gorgeous living color. My favorite panel is probably the one when Cass goes native. Kal’laa yourself, guy! After getting flattened last month by the Chabon/Fraction backmatter, I couldn’t wait to see what my man had in the hopper this month and was pretty stunned to find an interview with Mike Doughty, late of Soul Coughing, about addiction and recovery. Fraction is an alcoholic and an addict?!? CASANOVA was conceived of and written under a state of total sobriety? It cannot be? Pretty shocking, I completely had him pegged as a put-the-kids-to-bed-then-light-up-and-jam-out-some-madness type of fella. Guess I got the personality type right, but he’s moved on. Well, good for him. Pretty compelling reading, the best on this topic I’ve seen, this side of INFINITE JEST, which reigns supreme, once and forever.

BEST OF WEEK: ATLAS #5 – I think I’d feel this way even if it wasn’t the last issue. But we’ll never know! Parker/Hardman et al have had a fantastic run on this series across almost thirty different issues worth of mini-series and truncated ongoings, but this has been my favorite arc of the entire batch. For all the mind-blowing Big Plot exploding across the pages, Parker never loses sight of the little beats that define character and are the glue that holds a team book like this together. This really is a cast of nobodies, C- and D-listers, and he does a fine job of making us care about them, as individuals and as a family. I adored the text pages. That first double-shot, especially, made total sense in the context of what was going on, and dude’s nailing the voices of his characters when he can just drop an entire scene on you without dialogue tags and you know exactly who’s talking from the cadence of their speech. Also, the text is a nice nod to this title’s pulp roots.

But, oh, those last three pages! Over the moon insanity. “May there be many before you ride with us on the steppes,” ayeGod, that line in context just completely blows the doors off of this series and makes Woo one of the most compelling characters in the entire Marvel Universe, at least from where I’m sitting. Amazing last page, perfect last panel. If we never get another page of this book, they could not have gone out on a higher note. If it ever comes back, Jeff Parker sure as hell better be the only person who writes it. But now the entire team’s off to HULK? I . . . I don’t care about HULK, I don’t want to read HULK! I must. Did it come out this week? I might have to trudge back and take a look. Plus, I hear that BRAVE & THE BOLD is amazing. Maybe not such a small week after all. But first, let us raise a glass and bow our heads and say a little prayer of thanks to Marvel Comics, Jeff Parker, Gabriel Hardman, Elizabeth Breitweiser, Ramon Rosanas, and everyone else involved in making this dream a reality. A wonderful, wonderful series that will be missed every single month.

ATLAS. It was about Jimmy Woo.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


AVENGERS #5 – Man, how this one keeps doing it for me. They really need to get it together and have trades for sale in the lobby of theaters showing Marvel movies. Just this volume and the first Fraction/Ferry arc next spring after THOR would do some serious numbers, I reckon. This series continues to be—for better or worse, and I’m delighted with it—pretty much the benchmark for 2010 Marvel comics. Bendis is the architect, and Romita, Janson, and White make it a reality. The greatest thing about this issue, if you can believe it, is not Thor VS Galactus across pages 3 and 4, which, come on, but Bendis does this fantastic trick a few pages later where he soaks up all the technique Johns & co. dropped in 52 and BOOSTER GOLD these last few years of using all these cool little foreshadowing bits on Rip Hunter’s blackboard, but here Bendis just completely blows them out of the water, I mean, on the level of Charlie Parker double-timing the “Cherokee” changes and being like, “I call this ‘Koko’.” It certainly might not seem as cool in five or ten years after all of these arcs play out, but right now, calling the long game for the foreseeable future of the Marvel universe Babe Ruth-style in the form of insane timeline scribbling authored by future Tony Stark in an attempt to save the future by hurdling it past the Ultron War, well, it’s just a hell of a trick. My favorite nuggets, not counting the Ultron War (if only because we already got that double-splash last month), are ALL HOPE LIES IN DOOM and GALACTUS SEED. But then, wait, we went back to #3? I’m not even sure how it all lines up, and I almost don’t want to be. This is great big glorious fun, and a Wednesday night treasure.

SECRET AVENGERS #5 – Oh, David Aja, why have you stayed away from interiors for so long? You make me miss IRON FIST too much. This is a perfectly entertaining issue, but they’re stretching me out on the price point, just dropping a preview in the extra pages. Particularly with this title, it’s just begging for Hickmanesque backmatter, secret files and revelations and such, and their absence comes across as lazy. I want to put the next issue on probation for tradewaiting, but the only coming attraction is HONG KONG KUNG FU! so, you know, hard to walk away from.

UNCANNY X-MEN #528 – It feels good to have been buying this title for a few years running, now and again. Like your favorite old pair of mutant pants! Portacio tightens his lines up a bit this month. Is he just like the regular guy now, or on board for the whole arc, or what? It’s kind of freaking me out to get an Image founder three months in a row on this book, yah? I love Namor being folded into this title, the original mutant. (Isn’t he? That sounds right to me from way back, but now I can’t remember why. The little ankle wings?) Fraction writes a hell of an Ororo, but then the plot thickens pretty good on the last page. Oh, you strong Claremont women, it’s nice to see that somebody still loves you, and by that I mean respects you.

FLASH #5 – Yeah, these guys just keep doing it right. I’m not sure that anybody is more in love with DC continuity than our boy Mr. Johns, but he certainly knows what to do with it. Another trial for Barry, yeesh, I bet this one goes by just a little bit faster.

FABLES #98 – Aaaaaand Rose finally clocks back in. Hilarious montage of everyone’s complaints. This one’s been picking up steam for the last few months and I’m very interested to see what the crew’s got planned for #100, that’s going to be just a beast of an issue, no question.

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #5 – All right, now which continuity is this one, again? I’m starting to get whiplash. Levitz has apparently made the interesting call to turn Earth-Man into pretty much the protagonist of this book, even though of course there’s still the monster ensemble. Or maybe that’s just the way this first arc’s going to go? Or is he even doing arcs? I guess this does seem more like last time, less trade-oriented and just one thing flowing into the next. All right, not the most tightly focused review. I liked this book, nothing mind-blowing but it good.

NEMESIS #3 – This book reminds me of that old Soundgarden song “Big Dumb Sex,” you know it? Pre-BADMOTORFINGER material, really vintage shit, basically parodying and glorifying the trappings of late-80s hair metal sometimes referred to as cock rock (and I’m talking more Whitesnake/Winger, here, Todd, no disrespect to the Leppard!). But I think maybe this book is like that. Millar can’t actually be this ridiculous, it’s surely surely a joke. I mean, the Air Force One stunt in #1 should have been clue enough. Nemesis is sooooo badassssss, I can barely handle it! Again, McNiven draws the hell out of that fight scene. And then Millar drops the Evil High Concept. Involuntary sibling in vitro fertilization. And just when it can’t get any worse, the brother is gay! So wrong! When viewed as satire, kind of hilarious.

ASTONISHING X-MEN: XENOGENESIS #3 – Ellis brings back the Warpies! What a hell of a thing to do on the way out the door. Now, you’re going to start referring to 25-year old Marvel UK Alan Moore continuity? With two issues left to go? Just almost a dick move. But wonderful. This arc kind of reads like Ellis jamming through a few issues of UNKNOWN SOLDIER and deciding to why not muscle that on in here. Which isn’t a bad thing. Andrews’ work is less stylized here, blends into the story a bit better. Though the cover is pretty regrettable. Really going to miss Ellis over in this corner of the work-for-hire.

FANTASTIC FOUR #583 – Ah, Epting. What a delight. Edwards really came along and got to be getting it done, but Epting is simply a cut above. I really don’t go in for all this Who’s Going To Die? hype, hard to get worked up about anything like that anymore, not even counting any momentary dramatic effect that might happen within the course of the story getting dulled by months of lead-in bullshit prior to the actual moment, but I want to think that Hickman’s aware of all that and playing off of our expectations. We’ll see. Either way, even though you can argue that, again, this entire issue is pretty much set-up, it remains cracking good comics, something to mutter incoherently then scream at your friends about when you’ve had half a bottle of fine vodka at a bachelor party, followed by some mead called Viking that causes you to rip a piece of steak in half with your bare hands and devour one of the pieces right there before any of them can close their shocked and gaping mouths. Why do people keep asking me to be in their wedding parties? I feel that I continuously make pretty compelling arguments against inclusion. The exchange between Val and Doom was golden before she muttered “All hope lies in Doom,” and then I wanted to just start smashing walls at the beautiful architecture of it all. And this was later, remember, five days after the bachelor party, though you had better believe that I was spitting that title out at them over the textwaves just as fast as my little fingers could type it.


BEST OF WEEK: THOR #615 – Man, have I been waiting for this one. Without really trying or meaning to, I jammed the first year+ of the Simonson run in the past week, the back post-Beta Ray Bill 2/3rds for the first time, and it just worked out that I hit #349 on Tuesday, so that mandated #350 as the first read for tonight, even though it came out like 1,300 and change Wednesdays ago. And I really was going to write up that entire first arc and how it hit me and pertained or didn’t to Fraction/Ferry’s first 22+ pages, and hey, then I was going to rewatch the L O S T finale and finally do the final roundup on that since it was September 22nd, but wouldn’t you know it, my hard drive crashed on the 21st, and I was writing insane chickenscratch in longhand on Legal Pads for days and now all is well and I have my word machine back and didn’t lose anything, but it’s nearly Wednesday again and I think I’m just going to talk about this particular issue, if that’s all right.

Oh, but the mead! I was like three pages into #350 and I remembered that I have a couple bottles of mead that my good buddy Seth Humble gave me like three years ago, and hey, when the hell is going to be a better time to crack one of those open than when you’re jamming #350→#615, so yas, that was in effect, the truth must be told. And since we’re telling truths, maybe I liked AVENGERS #5 better than this. It certainly was swell. But I read it first (well, first after THOR #350, but you see where this is going), and then read this last, and then there was the mead. And Lone Star. As ever. And there were comics? Being read at some point?

I like how Fraction structures this, bookending it with the Volstagg/cosmologist meeting, then opening it up to three striking double-page spreads of doomed inconsequential characters, before breaking it wide open, right there in the middle of the book with the staples and all, to that gorgeous double-splash and just “THOR!” Right, that guy. His name’s on the cover. And if I wasn’t already so on board, hadn’t already convinced myself last April that this was going to be the new and hot ultimate wonderful, Heimdall’s sudden appearance at the end of the issue does the job, hitting just the perfect ominous notes. Have really been digging Fraction’s runs on UNCANNY and IRON MAN, never even mind CASANOVA because that just isn’t fair, but this one here’s going to put both of those to shame, and I’m so glad to have a front row seat next to you to watch it unfold, page by page and week by week, here oh so late at night at the Wednesday night mass.

Friday, September 17, 2010


THE UNWRITTEN #17 – Well, I was real sorry to have read ahead of time what the format of this issue was, because I think if I’d gone in cold, it would have blown my mind, but, knowing, I definitely bumped it up to first read of the night. A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure comic book! Presented horizontally with two little pages per actual comic page. Veeeeeery ambitious, and just a hell of a trip the first time through, because you’re trying not to see flashes of all these other pages as you’re thumbing through the book, and there keeping being all these paths not taken. I guess I chose well, because the first pass through took me all the way to the happy ending on Page 60. Then, going back a second time, it becomes apparent that Carey structures it in this beautiful way in which the story still folds back into other options, meaning if you chose Option A the first time and then the next time went with Option C instead of Option D, then when you take Option B on the repeat, eventually it works its way back to C and D so that you can take that other one, too. But then there are these scenes that are exactly the same no matter what, but are crazy because you’ve chosen different motivations for the characters, so one time, Wilson Taylor is hypnotizing Lizzie for altruistic reasons, the next time, you’re pretty sure he’s going to wind up molesting her because You, The Reader demanded it! But then I started wondering about, say the folks that went with Option A but then D, then on the next pass were B & C, so like they were rocking half of my first pass and half of my second all during their first, but missing the complementary halves. Yes? This makes perfect sense to me, but I don’t blame you for losing the thread, it’s a bit nutty. I thought that I’d hit all options on the first two passes (totaling 35 minutes, if anyone’s curious, quite the $4 reading value), but thumbing through now, I’m seeing some thread about an orderly or janitor somebody hanging himself, so I’ll have to dive back in. Not right now!

The only criticism I have about it, and maybe it’s just the choices I made, but once Tommy and Saxon show up, the choices taper off, so that the back half of the narrative is pretty similar no matter what messed up stuff you chose or dodged to have happen to poor Lizzie when she was a little girl. The back end could have been more elegant, but the issue’s already just a hell of a balancing act. Ryan Kelly’s inks on Gross’s art look great. Best issue yet.

MORNING GLORIES #1 – All right, this is a second printing and it came out a month ago, but my friendly neighborhood LCS ordered about 4 copies and they were gone five minutes after opening and I had no chance and just had to go track it down when I saw that I was about to miss the boat on #2, as well. So, does it buckle under all the $40-on-eBay hype four weeks after initial release? No sir, it does not. Great great first issue. It really feels more like an excellent television pilot, and I mean that in the best possible way. Hard to articulate this, the art’s gorgeous, but the beats, they’re just more TV, you know? Like with CASANOVA, UMBRELLA ACADEMY, CHEW (just spitting out here the most recent first issues I adored that spring to mind), you never forget that you’re reading a comic. And that’s not a bad thing. But, here, I dunno. There was more acting? Somehow? Moving on from that mangled thought, I was real impressed with every aspect of this book. The way the opening scene grabs you but then flips it and slips right through your fingers. The economical 2-page opening for each main character. The meet-cute. The pretty shocking last page. This is definitely a ride to sign up for, dug it so much that I immediately bumped #2 down to the bottom of the night, leaving only Morrison afterward to bat cleanup.

NEW MUTANTS #16 – This is excellent New Mutants work, you get the feeling Wells and Kirk are just barely hitting their stride. I hope these guys hang out through #50. What long-time fan isn’t going to dig the moment between Sam and Dani? Or Illyana’s cloven-hoofed arrival? Or drunk New Mutants riding for days in Limbo? Or the babies from X-Terminators showing up and whupping everybody? Just realized reading this, I started picking up UNCANNY X-MEN monthly with #236, just a couple of months before INFERNO got going, which makes that my first live-and-in-person Big Event. And I remember walking down to the 7-11 on 19th & Quaker half a mile down the road from my house and laying down, I think a dollar (hell, Marvel probably had it up at a buck and a quarter) for X-TERMINATORS #1, a title I just had to have, because it contained Important Plot Guaranteed To Lead Back In to the book that I already enjoyed. God knows how many hundreds of times that’s happened since, but I appreciate Zeb Wells mining that 22-year-old storyline so that I could figure that out.

It felt pretty good to just be able to walk down 19th Street under my own power at eleven years old and buy a comic book. Though, man, still nothing like that little flutter on 34th between Avenue U and V I’d get every time the car would start to slow down to turn left, just before that old yellow sign came into view.

X-FACTOR #209 – Again, they blow a great splash page by putting it on the cover. That would have been a killer beat. PAD and company deliver another solid installment. Though, the best page of any Marvel comic this week is that freaking Thor promo for Fraction and Perry. I’ve been really working myself up over it the longer they’ve pushed it back, and I’m about ready to just start grabbing people in the store by the shirt and screaming at them that the God of Thunder is coming, he’s coming next month, at long last, hail and well met! Even pulled #337 out right before putting the little girl down tonight, fuck it, I’m jamming as much Simonson as I can between now and then. Context, son!

BRIGHTEST DAY #10 – My interest in this one’s been flagging, but they reeled me right back in with the Firestorm Matrix Big Bang retcon (killer bandname, there)(or, more likely, a song by those Kirby Krackle fellas up north) and then the sheer stupid ridiculous audacity of that last page. And the knowledge that this will probably sell more than Bendis’s AVENGERS again this month. Yeah, sheer stupid ridiculous audacity sums it up for me. Entertaining, though far from transcendent.

DV8 #6 – Mm, I need to go back and read these in one sitting, I guess in two months to get ready for #8. I haven’t held on to my grasp of who these characters are, though I remember it being pretty well laid out in #1. But I was more like, “Now who’s Hector?” than dialed into the scene. Maybe Isaacs’s best work, though, she can certainly make a redhead locked up in a room for 8 issues look amazing.

I hate myself for not buying NORTHLANDERS in singles.

STEVE ROGERS: SUPER-SOLDIER#3 – Brubaker/Eaglesham are killing it. This has been a great idea, showing how much of a hero Steve is, even without the formula coursing through his biceps. Makes me miss the first couple of years of Brubaker/Epting, but plus ca change . . .

SUPERGOD #4 – All right, this is another that came out forever ago, but I just got my sweaty little hands on it, and I’m glad it went this way, much better to have a longer break in between #3 and #4 than #4 and #5. Um, Ellis is still a snarling madman and we should probably just creep on by lest he hear us. Gastonny is really making it happen, as well, easily some of the best interiors I’ve ever seen from Avatar, smokes everybody except Ryp, I’d say. Ah, though Burrows was great on that first issue with Moore. The three panel shot when Perun activates his hammer, followed by, well, really just call it the whole opening six pages, that’s worth the $4, right there. Can’t wait to see how this one ends up. Ellis gives you more concept density in a single-digit run of creator-owned mini than you get in years worth of most serialized entertainment from the Big Two. Hickman’s FF being the notable exception.

MORNING GLORIES #2 – And now we’re back to you, my lovelies. This one was entertaining enough, though not quite such a concentrated blast as the first one, though I’m thinking we can chalk that up to a standard page count (not checking that, though). That RA Pamela chick is pretty damn annoying. And I guess this is the next day? We kind of need a caption at the top, it totally seems like it’s still their birthday, the day they showed up, but then everyone’s in detention and we get all of this NIGHT BEFORE flashback business, even though they would have had to keep Casey overnight in between issues for all of that to make since. Some rookie continuity malarkey, there. The covers are gorgeous, but it seems like colorist Alex Sollazzo should get his name on the cover before the guy who, yeah, drew an amazing picture. End of the day, a slight dip after the focused glory of #1, but still very engaging, and I’m in for the long haul.


BEST OF WEEK: JOE THE BARBARIAN #7 – It’s been quite a little while since #6, yes? More than worth the wait. Really quickened my heart to get that double-shot of Superman there on the opening splash, knew that the ALL-STAR chasm wasn’t about to open up or anything, but we can always hope. Totally made me miss the Dynamic Duo on the first pass through. We’re racing through pretty fast here, now. For insane panels this week, I’m pretty sure this book takes the top five. You’ve got the They’ve got zombies! call to arms, the hilarious cut to Smoot’s dad’s blue crab Renewal of Kingship ordeal, and every other one that Robin’s in. Sheer brilliant madness, I’ll be quite sad when it’s over, but so so grateful for all of the imagination fuel. Sean Murphy is a force.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


NEW AVENGERS #4 – Most folks I talk to seem to be digging this one slightly more than what Bendis/JRjr and crew have going on in the sister title. I’m not quite there, maybe it’s that I’m more into time travel or less so into magic (or, let’s be honest here, Brother Voodoo), but it doesn’t really matter which one provides more entertainment, because they’re both just a hell of a ride. This month, Luke Cage manages a “Sweet Christmas.” Has that actually been said since Bendis rehabilitated him from puffy-shirted 70s obscurity via the pretty shaky premise of sodomizing his wife-to-be? I feel like it’s just been teased—the line, not the sodomy, oh no, that business went down—but can’t recall it actually having been uttered. Immonen/Martin knock the dimensional rift business out of the park. Just this one right here, much less on top of the other ones, they feel like more of an event than any of Marvel’s efforts since, oh, the Age of Apocalypse, like even though they’re going to come out month after month until the end of time, something that matters is really happening and that this time Bendis won’t fumble the ball at the goalline. Really digging it.

THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #30 – Quite the cover. Well-written scene in the car. Just that one panel alone, when he asks, “Do I look like a man afraid of becoming obsolete to you?” the look on his face juxtaposed against the bow tie, brilliant. Larocca nails it. And the “wait, what is Steve calling S.H.I.E.L.D. these days?” is perfect. I’m also a fan of that drone swarm via phone apps idea, just the right sort of crackling idea that this book should have dribbling out from between its pages. Looks like we might be in the middle of another year-long arc. Oh, Tony, such plans Fraction has for you!

AMERICAN VAMPIRE #6 – I really dug the first double-arc, but was dubious about hanging out for 22 pages at $4, but I’ve got to give Snyder credit for setting up a pretty solid hook that will bring me back at least next month. All new protagonists, only one page of our lead, and it all looks gorgeous, thanks to Albuquerque. We’ll miss Sai King, but not that much, it seems.

JUSTICE LEAGUE: GENERATION LOST #9 – Mm, it looks like Giffen has moved on, and I’m thinking I might as well. This isn’t bad, per se, it’s just not terribly compelling, and, you know, it’s got to be almost twice as good as average to justify the biweekly pace. A fan of the characters, but think I’ll just track down #37 of the old Giffen/Dematteis run and finish that one up, at long last. (IN OTHER NEWS: HOLY SHIT WAS THAT A NEW FACE ON THE EVENT ADS?!? LIKE, A TOTALLY DIFFERENT CHARACTER? THEY’VE BEEN HOLDING HER BACK? ALL THIS TIME? GETTING READY FOR THE LAST-MINUTE BLITZKRIEG? MIND-BLOWING! FOR REALS!)

GREEN LANTERN #57 – Man, everyone’s hitting Vegas, we’ve got Carol and company in this issue, X-Factor next month, and IDW/Brian Lynch looking to bleed their licensing dry by sending Spike there for 8 glorious issues at $3.99/pop. Pretty funny beat there, re: advisability of Larfleeze Takes Las Vegas. Maybe I’m just a sucker for a big kiss splash page, but that one shore was purty. I wonder how far ahead Johns has plotted this thing, he really seems to only be picking up speed six years and two monster crossovers in.

ADVENTURE COMICS #518 – Ha, Superboy bailing on PG was hilarious. Kevin Sharpe’s pencils seem to be tightening up a bit now that he’s got a couple issues under his belt. Though I have to say, Scott Clark’s making a hell of a campaign for the job with that cover. Can’t believe the market can sustain two monthly Legion books, actually come to think of it, don’t even know how well these are selling, but Levitz is sure writing the hell out of them. Am also getting into Lemire’s ATOM back-up as it picks up speed. Need to pick up that ESSEX COUNTY trilogy of his.

BATMAN & ROBIN #14 – Is this really the next-to-last Morrison issue? The time, it has roared on by. Wonderful bits in here, Pyg is as gloriously completely fucking insane as ever (or, as the first three issues), and Joker is note-perfect. That page after Damian’s scratched and the poison kicks in, Morrison drops a bit of his signature meta- in, the bit about an old pro not seeing the potential in Damian is actually Morrison himself, the original plan was to kill the little guy at the end of his first arc. Can you imagine? We never would have gotten this wonderful series. But yeah, that page, the bit about the crowbar and “You might be the funniest one yet,” yup, that’s Joker. Is it meant to be unclear how Dick got from preventing the Batmobile self-destructing to the Batcave? That was a bit more jarring than even usual. Irving’s stark tones might be a hard sell to someone who wants their spandex drawn with a little bit more cross-hatching, but I think it’s a perfect fit for this final arc.

BEST OF WEEK: DAYTRIPPER #10 – What a haunting, affecting, beautiful piece of work. I’ve loved everything I’ve seen and read from Ba and Moon, but you can tell how important this project was to them, can feel them pouring their hearts and souls into the words and panels. And Dave Stewart, my God. It’s too bad that he and Laura Martin probably won’t ever make a baby. I sat down Tuesday night and reread the first nine issues in a single sitting and I can’t recommend that highly enough. These issues felt so done-in-one, I completely missed the little Easter eggs that paid off down the line, things like Bras’s wife from #4 showing up at the end of #3, the novel on his father’s desk in #4 . . . several cool little things like that. Before #1 first came out, I strongly considered waiting for the trade, but in the end, couldn’t resist picking up the singles. Very glad I did, as there was quite a bit here to digest in the month-by-month, but there’s no question that it’s going to read better in trade, if only because there won’t be ads opposite the FINAL FOUR PAGES OF THE SERIES, just an unforgivable break in narrative flow, for my money, to be expected in, say, AVENGERS, but I expect better from a Vertigo mini of this artistic caliber.

But I’m really just talking about the series. How’s the issue? Well, it’s a little bit different. After last month’s perfectly satisfactory romp (and by satisfactory, I think I already said last month that if it had been the final issue, I would’ve been delighted), I really had no idea what to expect, but I guess this was the only place left that they could take it. There’s a tendency, more so amongst the critical fanboy set, probably, to overanalyze everything and try to nail down exactly what happened, and this series is surely a teethgrinder for those fellas, because there are no clearly defined answers. I mean, really. What just happened? Did we just check out a series of parallel worlds? Or certain days in the life of an obituary writer that wandered off into the hypothetical in the last couple of pages every month? What happened after this final last page? How much of what we read was real? (and you in the back, laughing that none of it was real, I know where you live and I won’t stand for it). In the end, I believe that that last letter gives us the only answer that matters: Let Go. It doesn’t really matter how the events that we read fit into a cohesive linear narrative framework as much as it matters what lessons Bras de Oliva Domingos takes from them, how they shape his world-view and influence the man that he becomes. And what he, in turn, passes down the line.

This series was about death, but it was also about everything else that matters, the things that give the end such weight and importance: love and family and the pursuit of happiness and the maximization of potential and hopes and dreams and the fleeting mirage of these lives we lead that can cut off at any instant for any reason, and the abiding importance of at last letting all of these things go, like the tide rolling back out to sea.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


First, catchup! It was a relatively light week, mainly because I’m starting to bail out on more $4 Marvel options, so I was able to clean out my folder and hit these first three. Quick blasts through!_:

THE UNWRITTEN #16 – Some pretty major business goes down here at the end of this third arc. You certainly can’t say that the book is spinning its wheels. Nice stunt with the book release. I’m interested to see where Carey/Gross are taking us next and suddenly curious if there’s a projected number of issues for this story about all the stories. I’m going to guess 50. Oooh, standalone next month, the problem is now I’m expecting that one to be Best of Week. Vertigo continues to dominate the market, in terms of quality.

NEW MUTANTS #16 – This was about as good as a story could be in which, you know, none of the actual cast appears (with a single expection in the last panel, which we’re not going to count). And I mean that as a compliment. I enjoyed it. Even though I’m sure Zeb Wells was gnashing his teeth during INCEPTION for the half hour that car was falling, because he’d already written this and figured everyone was going to think he was ripping the dilated time thing off. Oh, well. I’m glad this title is as solid as it is, the kids deserve it.

X-FACTOR #208 – Too bad the cover spoils the splash page. Why do they DO that? PAD continues to move his cast around with the deftest of ease, I actually didn’t even see that bit coming with Longshot and Darwin walking the ladies home talking about fighting. Was kind of groaning at the last page, thinking we should just maybe let this case go and move on to the next one, but the cover for next month certainly sells it.

All right! This week. So, I was going to give the new Aaron/Guedes WOLVERINE a shot, if only because I love SCALPED so much, but then when I saw it next to the other $4 Wolverine one-shot titled in a way that made me think I might need it to enjoy the Aaron $4 book, I just kept on cruising. Will probably pick it up in trade eventually for much cheaper. Though, hey, I still haven’t found any WEAPON Xs at Half Price. But life is long! Also, the first issue of Heinberg/Cheung’s CHILDREN’S CRUSADE-isn’t-it-really-just-YOUNG-AVENGERS-Vol.2? got completely by me, which is a shame because I loved YA and would’ve gobbled this up with a spoon, but the store was sold out of #1 and, you know 9-issue $4 a pop miniseries + between those two talented but not necessarily rapid creators, we’ll be lucky if #9 is out by the end of 2011, so I just figured I’d wait. All of which to say, maybe maybe that’s Best of Week, and I’m letting it get by me. But no! How could it be? It’s Wednesday, let’s go!


BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #36 – Papa Whedon comes home at last. Interesting way to fold Spike and Angel in. Loved loved the Oceanic reference, if only because two pages earlier, when he looked up and saw the plane breaking apart, well, you know, I’m powerless not to think of that, so nice to see the island madness mixed up in the pop culture stew they’ve been cooking up all this time, with Andrew nowhere to be seen, even. How many Buffy/Angel/Spike threesome joke/innuendoes must the world endure before space-time collapses? I feel like it happens all the time. And check Angel’s facial expression, he looks up for it, man! Wanker!

It certainly is entertaining to get those two in the mix, cranking up an ensemble that wasn’t hurting for chemistry or character depth before they wormholed in out of, I guess, IDW continuity. Absolutely did not care about the reveal on the last page, though, because, I have to be honest, just about the entire first season did nothing for me. You could see the whole thing coming together for a minute during that talent show when the three of them did Macbeth, but other than that, I thought the entire twelve-episode run was pretty thin, even with the finale written and directed by Our Dread Joss & Master, when the theme song kicks in at the climax, mm, just awkward, all of which to say, Mark Metcalf is by far my least favorite Big Bad (ah, actually, that chick in Season 5 was terrible, to the point that I’ve wiped her name from my frontal lobe. Joy? Gloria? Metcalf was maybe better than her, but come on. I’m saying I liked Warren better. And I haaaated Warren)(of course, I rationalize Season 6 away by saying the entire thing was actually a set-up for Willow to be the Big Bad, and that I can live with, love, even). But I’m probably coming across too negative, I enjoyed this and am very interested to see how we bring Season 8 in for a landing, after all this time. And what a Jo Chen cover, my God! What Jeanty must be thinking when and if he sees hers next to his on the rack.

THE BOYS #46 – Yas, this book is cooking with gasoline now and just keeps pouring on more and more. Without going back through the entire run, this might be my favorite conversation involving Butcher, and you know that’s really saying something. The “Heh heh heh. Yeah, all right,” after he susses out the deal with the menstrual blood that went down about three years ago our time, just priceless. Oh man, and then that stunt at the end. Ennis is killing it killing it, and old Russ Braun is completely holding it down, which, never would’ve thought that I’d be loving BOYS issues this much drawn by anyone but Robertson. Carry on!

BRIGHTEST DAY #9 – Mm, I didn’t care about this one so much. Even though a whole chunk of it was J’onn/Ollie. The entire Aqualad thing is turning me off. Maybe instead of Legacy Character Iteration #45, we could just create something new? From whole cloth? If only because I feel like the natural progression from this will be eventually people start caring about this new kid and then in ten or fifteen years, we get the new Johns masterpiece AQUALAD: REBIRTH and everybody falls all over themselves to make the return of Garth a bestseller. Eh, maybe not.

HOUSE OF MYSTERY #29 – Man, the paper quality on this is pretty offensive, given how much more I dig the storytelling than, let’s just say BRIGHTEST DAY since I read that right before. The goblin story with the twist ending was a laugh. The fill-in guy was fine, but if you put Luca Rossi’s name on the cover, you know, I kind of expect to see his work inside. Sturges has always really done a great job with that Alan Moore trick of juxtaposing narrative captions against images that create tension with each other, usually with another layer of dialogue going on in the images. This is a really tricky thing to pull off and so easy to come off as amateurish or precious, but he’s always nailed it on this series. And when I got to the last page, I wondered if this wasn’t his best run at that yet. Good show, boss.


: ASTRO CITY SPECIAL: SILVER AGENT #2 – Wow and wonder, I guess that was worth fifteen years of waiting. The only thing about this, it’s been such a while since I’ve reread the first two volumes that I’m not sure how many old old questions this is answering and how much insanity’s just bubbling up for the first time. Not that I really care at the moment, it’s a fantastic read. And an excellent retort to all the sass going back and forth here this week about comics being for kids and artistic hypocrisy and super-dismemberments. Just hand anybody of any age this book, and that pretty much settles all of that. This is for everybody and it wins. So many ideas and flights of the imagination compressed into a single issue. I mean, Ohmerika? I read maybe Greg Burgas’s take that that meant our fair country took up the name of its 44th president and I didn’t get that AT ALL, but it’s a valid read, and an insane notion, and I love that this series just throws that out for a page for us to interpret as we will before barreling on to the next slab of crazy. And the idea that the silver artifact might really be the entire catalyst for the series? Just dropping that in out of nowhere? Incredible.

I imagine JLA/AVENGERS was pretty much an impossible thing to write and draw—so many characters to service, never even mind the fans—and Busiek/Perez hit that one out of the park, and MARVELS was certainly pretty swell, but there’s no question in my mind that this series will certainly stand the test of time as Busiek’s masterpiece, a fulfillment of potential and one of the greatest things that this medium has to offer, an exultation and celebration of the little flutter thrill we feel when seeing or hearing or reading about a man that can fly and thinking, hey, maybe one day, I can do that, too.