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.