Thursday, October 28, 2010


AVENGERS #6—Bendis Bendis Avengers Avengers blah blah blah. Running out of superlatives for this relaunch. We make it to the end of the first arc, which is slightly anticlimactic in terms of linear narrative, before future Tony drops the whole Ultron Holocaust thing on his present-tense version and we realize that this whole mess has just been the warm-up act. I mean, hell, how much better than BREAKOUT was this arc? And I thought that was a pretty solid beginning. Not crazy about Red Hulk showing up, but I’m sure it’ll be better than I expect. Bendis continues to nail the oral history, taking us through the beginning of Hank and Wanda’s rough patch (i.e. the entire back three-quarters of their relationship, youch).

UNCANNY X-MEN #529—Portacio really pulls it together in this one! We get the spinoff trapdoor for the Generation Hope kids (and what self-respecting PHONOGRAM acolyte can’t jump right on over?), a Fantomex jailbreak, intrigue between Emma, Kitty, and Danger and then, out of nowhere, the best final page on this title in 21 years*. Just a fierce piece of writing, completely nailed everything that I love about this book, or really, want to love, the platonic ideal of this book, the complex tapestry of relationships between the diverse ensemble, all the friendships and loves and enmities and grudging mutual respect that spring up in the unlikeliest of places. I mean, I didn’t care one little bit when Nightcrawler went down, seen too many go and come back to work up the energy to care, or or believe, but those words, man, just leveled me.

SECRET AVENGERS #6—Deodato cranks the art up even more. I’m torn about this one, think I could live with getting it in trade, thanks to the price point, but this certainly isn’t bad in any way and, and I don’t know how to stop buying it! I bet my wife could convince me, but I don’t want her help! Gah!

CAPTAIN AMERICA #611—We knew how this issue was going to end, but Brubaker still takes us on an entertaining journey that feels completely organic, not shaped by the title of the arc. Wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about Acuna on this, but he’s working for me. Refined his style a bit since being over on GREEN LANTERN a few years ago. The NOMAD back-up wasn’t such a stinker.

INCOGNITO: BAD INFLUENCES #1—And the Brubaker hat trick! We all need a bit more of him in our lives. This one comes out swinging. Phillips is just a master. Forgot he did that DARK TOWER arc, going to have to track down that trade. And the essay by Jess Nevins, it probably need not be said, is utterly riveting. This is why we buys the comics, people! That variant cover is stunning, too, wish that one could have been the one I got.

FANTASTIC FOUR #584—All right, now the whole Countdown to Casualty is really cranking every scene in this one way, way up. Because when Reed and Sue say goodbye, we know that there are even odds that they might not lay eyes on each other ever again (or until Hickman leaves or Reed fixes it or whatever, but let me play!). Same thing with Johnny & Ben’s Day Off. Man, that whole montage, yet again, Hickman just nails everything about this book. I can’t believe more people aren’t making a bigger deal about this run, am still working my way through Byrne’s run, but given that I know that he takes a powder mid-arc to go do MAN OF STEEL, and of course depending on what happens in the next few years, man, God bless Waid and ‘Ringo and Uncle Walt, but this one might be gunning for #2 run of all time on a title that’s been pretty consistently excellent throughout its run. Giving it a pass for the 90s, of course. Don’t wait for this in trade!

ACTION COMICS #894—Only DC I picked up this week, but man, it held the line for the company all by itself. Word is that Gaiman made substantial contributions to Death’s dialogue and, I’ve got to say, it reads about as close to the Lex Luthor version of SANDMAN #8 as it possibly could. This is a good thing. Cornell takes the encounter about exactly where you would expect it to go, but he’s got such a lock on both characters that it’s just a joy to be along for the ride, to the point that you’re not even upset when you get to the end and she’s just like, “Nope, I was just checking in on you.” I mean, if that’s a set-up for something crazier in the run, so much the better, but my read on it was that it was just an excuse to get these two together, and I can live with that. Best issue of this run, yet. It will be interesting to see where we go with Vandal Savage next month (give or take a thousand years).

BEST OF WEEK: You know, it’s a really close call. I almost want to give it to Death Doesn’t Take Luthor, but that one feels a bit flimsier on the reread. AVENGERS was excellent, but like I said, a bit anticlimactic in terms of the insane momentum that’s been building since #1. And then there’s that last Fraction page just suckerpunching me, man. No no, give it to Hickman. If only for Ben & Johnny’s early dinner with friends, that one messed me up, too, just the idea that The King would have it in him to break bread with The Man. Comics aren’t supposed to break your heart, King!


*And the last one that did that, as if you didn’t know, was #251, which came out maybe right around this time back in 1989, I had been picking up the book monthly (or biweekly in the summer, even? Can you imagine them trying to do that now?) for a little bit longer than a year, while, of course, just devouring every issue before #236 that I could get my sweaty little hands on, but #251, that issue with Logan crucified up on the X and Jubilee finally taking him down just about blew my twelve-year old mind, one of the heaviest things I’d ever read, at least that year. Along with WATCHMEN and Miller’s BATMAN and DAREDEVIL and even, yeah, Jean Grey going down that first time. It was a pretty serious time to be catching up on things.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


This one’s in real time, or as close as we can approximate it! Reactions to issues, and sometimes specific panels, as they are read! Before the rest of the night’s books are consumed! It might be too much to bear!

BATMAN & ROBIN #15—Had this as the headliner but couldn’t resist hitting it first. Can’t believe it’s over with Morrison on this. Insane way to go out, teasing Damian’s deal with the devil for his soul, really thought that was about to happen right in front of us. And we get an about-face from RoBW #5 two weeks ago, I was for the first time positive that Morrison wasn’t jerking our chains and it really was Thomas Wayne as Dr. Hurt, so of course we’ve got to get the inversion. Every panel with Joker was about the best I’ve ever seen with the character, just perfection. Rings so true.

MORNING GLORIES #3— Better than #2. Wonderful madness of opening w/ flashback in 1490. Somewhat diluted by information expositional dump in last two pages. I’m of two minds about hitting sites like CBR and Bleeding Cool, because I like hearing stuff about creators (the Ba/Moon footage at NYC Comic-Con being the most recent example), but then, almost without fail, I find teaser shit annoying and distracting, to wit, the online heralding of this issue’s Appearance of the First Message. Reading the book, instead of being caught up in the flow, I’m just like, Oh, here’s the first message now. Yep, wonder what it means. The hype diluted the moment for me. And, really, is someone not already reading this going to hear that we’re getting a first message in #3 and suddenly run out and buy this book. Hell, maybe they will. #2’s even up to $10 now. Anyway, yeah, better than #2.

KICK-ASS #1—Devastating. The movie was much better than the series, I thought, as great as both Millar and JRjr were, but Vaughan & Goodman just escalated it, I mean, really the best kind of adaptation where it probably transcends its excellent source material, the other three examples jumping to mind being the films The Neverending Story, The Hours, and Wonder Boys. But then Millar comes back just swinging for the fences. Typing this right now in the white hot ecstasy of not having read books subsequently listed, just really pumped with how much higher up he jacked the bar over what the filmed accomplished. The folks across the street should let the shy lad from Glasgow take another swing at the Big Guy. Also, the best text piece I’ve seen from him. Going to have to go back and reread SUPERIOR with a better attitude.

NEW MUTANTS #18—Brutal. Lots of teens and former teen superheroes getting there asses whupped this week, looks to be a trend in the evening ahead. Fun fact, though the New Mutants have only aged a couple of years, it’s been 22 actual years since the babies were abducted, so the 26-year gap in Limbo is almost real time for us. Does this mean . . . we live in Limbo?

X-FACTOR #210—Best single of these in a long long line. Writing and art both at the top of the class. A joy.

DV8 #7—Ha, know a thing or two about that Alan Moore reference on the first page. First Jocelyn page may be the best single piece of writing I’ve seen from Wood, a master, even and especially on that small small scale. Excellent issue, after two or three months of almost too slow burn, the shit hits the fan in a delightful manner. Looking forward to the wrapup. Isaacs is a force.

ADVENTURE COMICS #519—Best Levitz issue yet, on either side. Can’t believe, the way of the world, that it is that rare beast, a child left behind, came out last week, and just almost randomly, I mean I can’t believe it now, feel so guilty, but didn’t pay the extra for it last week, and it’s crushing, a winner, if you had Levitz and, let’s say, Morrison and Ellis, in a room with the charge, “Everyone give us your best Superboy meets Silver Age Legion in Smallville story,” then I can really see it being a three-way tie, just as much as I love and respect all three, and I’d be shocked if Levitz showed up at that particular high noon with anything but this, again. The Johns list being such a key factor. Embracing the relaunch tone, quoting, really, just really too much.

GAAAH! Insane perfectly justifiable Levitz retcon on the last page! Followed by perfect tone-shift next issue blurb! All this before Lemire on THE ATOM! Gorgeous!

And, yeah, then best Ray Palmer pages I’ve always suspected but never actually managed to stumble across until now. Thank you so much, everybody.

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #6—This Portela guy’s fantastic, as is who- or whatever Hi-Fi is, gorgeous fill-in, the kind that makes you wish they’d shack up here for just the next little bit, see what happens.

(Do you know what the coolest thing about AGE OF APOCALYSE was? I just realized. It was the lack of solicits. Or, at least, my ignorance of them. Was it Harras’s first great act after the Image exodus? It might have been his only one, but it’s a compelling argument for his future across the street. We just saw all that malarkey go down with Storm and Bishop and the rest all stranded back in the early days of Charles & Erik and then Legion’s misfire, then, before you even had a chance to think, “Well, it’s not like this means that they’ll cancel X-Factor or Excalibur or certainly not Logan’s solo title,” then at the end of the issue we find out it’s a line-wide reboot, so effective, stunning in execution. All of this to say, instead of fucking laying it out for us in a series of ads just a very few weeks ahead of the actual conclusion, when Bruce hasn’t actually come back yet or, hey, we don’t already know that Dick gets to keep being Batman in Gotham, really, think about that, that’s a bigger deal to me than any supposed but hilarious long-lasting result/consequence that came out of INFINITE CRISIS, but they couldn’t do me the simple courtesy of letting Grant Morrison’s fucking script reveal that none-too-inconsequential plot development, because I’m supposed to be getting my trousers in a knit about the fact that Tony Daniel’s going to keep writing and drawing Dick’s adventures on the eponymous title. To me, that shows, despite the fact that Morrison’s been getting to somehow do this for five years and running now, a gaping void in editorial logic. Wouldn’t everyone have much rather heard Bruce say it after he got back?)

(though, of course, it must also be said that no one’s more pumped for BATMAN, INC., Snyder & Jock on DETECTIVE, and Williams/Hadley on BATWOMAN, and Finch/Williams on THE DARK KNIGHT than me, which actually got me thinking, something has been really rotten in the heart of Denmark when I haven’t been obligated to pick up BATMAN/DETECTIVE & SUPERMAN/ACTION every single month. I mean, someone’s messing something up when I don’t just have to, because I just realized that that should probably be and have been a given in my life and never has been. And I refuse to take responsibility for this gap, this lacking between ideal and actual.)

And wow, then also this is the best Levitz single of this issue, too, now so pumped to read them right together, but wait! It’s Jiminez!!!!

This is the first one where they get it right. Since Levitz returned, as great as the newcomers have been, I’ve always had the sense that it’s a shame not to have Giffen or Perez or Maguire or Jiminez on monthly duties, but of course, I see the problem there already, but man, just so right, getting Jiminez back here on these pages.

And we get to vote for Legion leader. Incredible. This one’s looking pretty much like the #1, here, BESTOF, fix it later.

BRIGHTEST DAY #12—Wow, what a dopey panel when the JLA show up, why not have Reis have drawn that? The Deadman & Dove panels were Reis, I guess. Best ones, anyway. That JT Krul editorial page is even worse than the ARSENAL shit, man, I mean, my God, I knew what I was getting into when I started reading it but then actually started boiling some water in a pot after, to scald my eyes out with. And the hands that held the page. DC’s refusal to attempt to simulate the Johns reboot model and hire A- or even B-list talent on the Titans franchise is galling, but putting tripe like this up on the page this week is way past insulting, not even counting the fact that this guy’s got this job, still, hasn’t been pulled like Stuart Townsend from that Jackson production. Absurdity.

FABLES #99—Lapham was such a delightful surprise at the top of the year, but Inaki Miranda is the best infusion of delight to hit these shores since Buckingham showed up in the first place. Willingham fires it up just as high as he can, yet again.

STEVE ROGERS: SUPER-SOLDIER #4—A fast and insane way to shut it down tonight. Pity the CAP readers who sat this one out. More later. Maybe. M’tired.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


A weekend in New Orleans followed by a crushing MAD MEN finale have held these words at bay just a little while now. Maybe the latest review yet, the new books are on the shelves but here’s last week’s reviews. Come on, now!

NEW AVENGERS #5—Bendis & company continue to lead the charge. This art team is just maybe the least bit better than over on the other book, I think, but that’s probably splitting hairs. Worst ad placement was behind those two pages with Brother Voodoo’s brother in fractal white space where you can see the logo from the wrestling action figure ads on the flip side of the page. Not cool, editors! Best panel of dialogue was when Logan called Parker “Webs,” tht whole exchange is vintage. It’s really asinine not to have Bendis scripting Spidey for the big screen. But, hey, I still think Morrison should be writing a Superman movie, what do I know? Meanwhile, in these very pages, we get a solid fanboy’s wet dream setup to take us into what’s surely the last issue of the arc. I want to not pay $4 for this in singles but don’t know how to stop. The oral histories really do make it pretty well worth it.

THE UNWRITTEN #18—Ah, it’s the old V FOR VENDETTA trick. I guess Morrison trotted it out for WEAPON X, so why can’t Carey have a whack at it, as well? Another single before the next arc kicks off. One gets the feeling that Carey & Gross are still just barely getting started, even a year and a half in. In a way that’s maybe not a bad thing.

GREEN LANTERN #58—Yeah, this whole multi-hued thing is getting pretty clustered up, here. It’s still for the most part working for me, but it must be just a hell of a thing to plot. It feels like Johns is going to have no problem making it to #100, and then, man, I’d have my eye on Bendis’s USM record. Not that that’s even over with. Nice to have the guest star cameo at the end feel like it’s going to matter or, I don’t know, count? since he’s written by the same guy. This book hasn’t been blowing me out of the water for a while now, even on the level of, say, Johns & Manipul killing it over on FLASH, but it’s solid, and you have to respect Johns’s long game.

SUPERIOR #1—I liked this better than I thought I would, picked it up more for the Yu art than Millar premise (just really sick of the self-promotion, almost hilarious to not even be surprised to find the guy pimping a movie role for this out to Don Draper the very day the first issue hits the stands, just something really undignified about it). The MS thing came off as a bit of tearjerker shorthand, like he didn’t have to try any harder to characterize the kid as anything more than the same fanboy mold as old Dave Johnson, except Now With MS, Making the Whole Magic Wish Thing That Much More Poignant. Sure was happy to see that space monkey show up, though. I think I would have tried to do this without all the Vertigo language in the dialogue, the kind of story that seems like eight year olds should maybe be able to get their hands on. Nobody wants to hear Billy Batson talking like a sailor, but hell, maybe that’s the kernel that got Millar on this in the first place. I figure I’ll pick up #2 if it’s a light week, catch up on the trade eventually if not. Cool of them to make it $2.99, that was probably the creators’ call. Millar does hook his artists up, a very cool thing.


THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #31—I’ve decided that this one probably reads better in trade. Maybe the movies are spoiling me, but I feel like we’re inching along and not getting enough of a complete story every month. It’s all very well done, of course, the chapters just aren’t quite as satisfying as they could be. Like watching Downey, Jr. in six-minute doses. Great work, but then it’s over right when they’re about to get to the next good part. Not to say I’m not stoked for next month, as ever.

THOR #616—This, too, was more of a slow burn than I expected. And, of course, I’ve still got like stratospheric expectations for this brought about by the delays plus mainlining Simonson’s Surtur Saga right before we got going. Ferry’s work is breathtaking. I don’t see why the ad for the damn Red Hulk in THE AVENGERS can’t be on the right side of the page and not break up the momentum leading to such a momentous last page, not really a time you want to hiccup the flow. Editors! It also seems strange putting a LOKI #1 on sale next week, but I guess I shouldn’t really be surprised. Final verdict, enjoying this, but it’s taking a little while to get off the ground. But hey, they basically had to perform the equivalent of introducing Beta Ray Bill in the first issue to live up to the hope and hype.

CASANOVA #4—And just like that, Luxuria comes to an end. I am curious what someone who’s never hit it before thought about it in this concentrated colored dosage. I really like what Cris Smith did. And can not get enough of the Ba(Moon)! Hit PIXU just a couple weeks ago. Just waiting to find that DE:TALES for cheap, now. Looking forward to the next arc because I reread the hell out of this first one and remembered more beats than not, whereas I always meant to go back and do the same with #8-14 and never did, so should be a treat. Seems ill-advised to build a three-month gap in between now and the next arc, though. Monthly, people! I want this book to do as well as it possibly can. Really just can’t wait for #9, to be perfectly candid. The interview with Chaykin (heh, almost typed “Flagg” there) was interesting, but it seemed like Fraction went to the F-bomb a few times too many, as if that was automatic cred or something. I mean, like five or six times in a row. It loses weight through repetition, Boss! It got to the point where I was just expecting retorts like “Fucking fuck AMERICAN FLAGG, fuck me.” Ah well, I suppose I can really criticize his interviewing technique after I get Chaykin on the line myself. One thing it did accomplish was inspire me to finish tracking down the rest of that first run of AF in singles, so that’s surely going to improve my life.

And this would have been a footnote, since we’re all the way off the Quinn family now and already at the bottom of the page, what’s the point? But talking about AMERICAN FLAGG, I’ve been hitting some classic runs in singles that got by me in the first place, am two years into Byrne on FF, now about to lock it up with ALPHA FLIGHT and hit those side-by-side, month-by-month, and still need to knock out the remainder of Simonson’s THOR and the last year and change of Milligan/Allred on X-STATIX, (all of these are stacked up in my nightstand drawer, just waiting), then I still need to track down #37 of JLI (or I think it’s A by then, but you know what I mean, Giffen/Dematteis) to finish that one up, then yeah, let’s do Chaykin and maybe finally round up all those old Miller DAREDEVILs. And need to finish up CEREBUS and start LONE WOLF & CUB back up from the beginning now that I’ve got all those, too. Really no surprise that I’m not hitting that much prose these days, no.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Man. These books showed up for October, I’ll tell you what. This week was dark, people. I mean, really, on every level. Witness:

NEONOMICON #2 – I read this last, by candlelight, just like the previous issue. Moore’s got the headliner spot anytime he shows up. But ah God, just . . . it was very well written. That’s what’s so horrifying about it. Moore does such an effective job of bypassing all your defenses and dialing you right into his characters’ heads (and, yeah, here, bodies) that what transpires in the back half of the issue is all the more just scratch-out-your-eyes unbearable, because these are not images on a two-dimensional plane, these are really people and what’s happening to them should not be happening to anyone. It’s not so bad, not AS bad, just to describe the plot after the fact to somebody, you know, I mean, at this point, we’re all pretty jaded. How many SAWs have they made now? But right there in the middle of it, when those characters are breathing and screaming and begging, incarnate from the spellcraft of the Great Wizard of Northampton, man, that shit sticks with you and it is not a good thing. I really spent most of Thursday trying to wipe the images from my mind, not as much what was on the page but the business that my mind filled in in the gutters. The work of Jacen Burrows’s career, mind you. Wondering what could possibly be on the slate for the back half of this series. But, I can wait. You boys take your time, there.

THE BOYS #47—And then Ennis just gives us both barrels. That cover is much more of a damn shame after reading the issue. Everything in here makes perfect sense. Old Butcher came off as a few shades less subtle than I expected, especially given the deft touch he had with events last month, but I guess Hughie’s not exactly really paying attention at the moment. Nice bit juggling the scale there, we care so much more what’s going on with two people at a park than every superhero holding a clandestine stratospheric meeting, didn’t even realize we didn’t make it back up there until some time after finishing the issue. Sorry not to see Robertson hammering these nails into place on a coffin he did so much to build, but you can’t find fault with Braun. A riveting read, month in, month out.

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #37—No! Xander & Dawn, don’t you realize that you are in the middle of a Whedon season finale? If there is one thing you never never do at that time, it’s nose up against the satisfying end of a character arc or, really, declare your undying affection for someone who might be your true love, and you really really don’t want to be talking about just getting away from all of this and on with the rest of your lives, just after this last mission is over. I like the retcon on the Season One Big Bad being the Hellmouth’s protector. If they’re not messing with us, nice of them to knock any speculation I might have re: the majority of this post by showing us the cover for next month, and, really, putting that on the cover in the first place. I swear to God, these people.

AMERICAN VAMPIRE #7—This continues to be an excellent read even without any help from up north. No shortcuts here, just solid character work grafting vampire mythos onto actual history with Rafael Albuquerque destroying page after page. Was feeling all right hitting this at $4 a pop, delighted they’re rolling it back after I guess the next couple of issues.

HOUSE OF MYSTERY #30—Um. I’m not even sure what happened. But this series is still killing it after two and a half years and I think we might have gotten the best story-within-a-story yet. All praise be to Sturges.

BLACKEST NIGHT #9/BRIGHTEST DAY #11—But so you see? Two Vertigos, THE BOYS, BUFFY, all pretty creepy stuff. I figured the one bright patch would, you know, be this. Cue the inexplicable and completely uncalled for return of the Black Lanterns. Um, this might have been a little cooler or more jawdropping if the thing with them hadn’t just gotten resolved like in this same calendar year. As little as I really care about the participants of both conflicts in this issue, it was an entertaining enough read. Looks like I’ll probably hang out for the back half of this one, unlike that old JUSTICE LEAGUE book, the title of which I’m not even going to spell all the way out again.

BEST OF WEEK: S.H.I.E.L.D. #4—Ah, a mainline of the good stuff. This is another one of those that’re going to read so much better in trade, just because every single advertisement is an affront against whatever page of sequentials it’s opposite. Were Newton and da Vinci speaking in actual Egyptian hieroglyphics? Would love to know what they were saying. And, uh, what the words sounded like. We finally get to find out how the world does in fact end, information it’s been strongly implied since the first issue that somebody actually has. Does that last scene make Nostradamus the Big Bad? Loved the starbirth of that baby Celestial. Am just horribly impressed with every aspect of this series. Weaver is a force.