Happy birthday, Miller Li.
FANTASTIC FOUR #586—Overwhelming. I have for all this time wrongly assumed that this arc was only going to go four issues, I mean, I know how countdowns work, but I guess the fact that there hasn’t been a 0 in the countdown up on top of the cover? At any rate, that means I thought that somebody was going out this month until I got to that ad telling me different almost at the very end of the issue, consequently, it was a pretty tense ride, but I guess I’m just going to have to live with it for another four weeks. Rocking the 4 shirt, in honor.
MORNING GLORIES #5—Easily the best issue since the pilot. Hah, first issue, I mean. But that’s how this one feels, the rhythms of a show. Spencer ratchets up the craft level quite a bit with this one, words bleeding on the page so hard you can’t help but be like He’s Wriiiiiiiting, but, man, dude goes for it and gets the job done. I wasn’t half as bowled over by #s 2-4 as how hard #1 hit me, and this one restores my faith. The cheap trade of this is going to make for just one hell of a single sitting.
UNCANNY X-MEN #532—Land’s style is molting, I like where it seems to be heading. There are still quite a few shots that look just the way he’s been doing it now since that first PHOENIX mini, all super photo-ref’d and such, but he seems to be shedding it, working toward something more stylistic. Meanwhile, in the word balloons, I didn’t think it was going to be Guess the Writer time so damn immediately, but these were the first status tags that I loved, a feature that has been bugging the shit out of me since they showed up 32 months ago, but man, this time, they sing, sing to such an extent you’re just like, is Kieron walking up and suddenly killing it, or is Fraction just like scrawling out every single one of these per issue while staring into the sunrise the Tuesday that the script is due, and he’s finally got the hang of it? Best issue since #512 (though still, of course, a distant second).
IRON MAN #33—Oh! This was the finale? That was nice, I just expected it to go a whole 12 issues. This is like that last season of THE WIRE, that I didn’t realize was only ten episodes long until Completely Insane Shit started going down in the ninth episode. Um. This last installment is a huge success on every level, these guys are getting ready to close out their third year and have never looked better and #500 is around the corner. It’s no great surprise Fraction gets the next big event, between this and UNCANNY and just the first rumblings of THOR (without even, let’s don’t, so much as mention creator-owned properties), he’s pretty much pulled himself up to Bendis-level proportion in terms of overall importance to the company, from a standpoint of idea generation. With Mad Millar dancing around the fringes and Brubaker running anchor. Speaking of.
SECRET AVENGERS #8—Pretty shredding, man. Brubaker and Deodato are rocking the superspy action as hard as it can stand it.
SUPERIOR #3—This one gave me the opposite reaction from last month. Millar puts a ton of heart, by way of Smallville and Fawcett City, into this pastiche riff, and Yu turns it way the hell up for this issue, more than one simply legendary spread. Is this thing only four issues long? They are a'going for it.
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #8—Levitz is blowing it up with this bi-weekly interaction. Why doesn’t Geoff Johns give him a call and get him to lead up the writing staff of a new Legion serial television show? Why doesn’t Johns do JSA, for God’s sake? Hawkman is in that one. And Black Adam, I believe he has some fondness for there. Back to it, this one was a classic before Earth Man busted out the Durlan powers. A fine time in the life cycle of this franchise.
AMERICAN VAMPIRE #10—I was a bit concerned not to see our man Rafael’s name on the cover this time, but I suppose it was maybe just three weeks since last we met, and he was rocking 10 pages extra duty those first five months, so, we cannot fault his work ethic. We can, however, experience trepidation with regard to the quality of the fill-in artist, and, by extension, the editor, or whatever other unknown confluence of force dictates the acquisition of same. The concern, in this rare instance, is entirely misplaced.
NEONOMICON #3—After the previous joyful installment, I was certainly expecting no small amount of completely horrifying shit, and the first half certainly not disappoint. But then, you know, that Alan Moore is some kind of professional. He turns it around on you. Down there.
BEST OF WEEK: BATMAN, INCORPORATED #2—Just a hell of a cover by J.H. the IIIrd. No surprise that I found every page of this one pretty much perfect. Paquette is really a machine, can't imagine he's going to be able to keep up this level of quality in a monthly. Not that DC will mind bringing in a fill-in to keep this thing on-track. The format of this title lends itself well to fill-in singles, at least. Nothing about this issue particularly blows me away, but it's still a very good Batman comic. We get the first franchise player brought into the fold in an economical 44 pages, great interaction between Bruce and Selina (I dig how after a very subtle set-up last issue, this being a heist on the side for her gets exactly two pages this month, we're all expecting it, Bruce, her, they're just going through the motions of their traditional relationship while simultaneously interacting on other levels, team-up, romance [or just straight boning, if you prefer]), a callback to Bat-manga first published in the 60s (the manga itself a retelling of BATMAN #180, whose cover even manages to break back into this month's narrative redrawn as a flashback panel), a cameo from Shiny Happy Aquazon of Super Young Team (set-up for romantic lead for our new Batman?), Lord Death Man on a satellite, a potential action space set-up that has me licking my lips, and Selina channeling the reader question "What are you going to do when the bad guys come for Bruce Wayne?" answered/deflected to perfection by "You'll see." Oh. He has a plan!
And then, just when all is said and done, Morrison breaks our hearts by giving us that last killer splash of the Tokyo Batman in mortal conflict against that joker Professor Gorilla from the manga, a shot that begs for a ten-page fight sequence by Paul Pope and of course makes us wish we could just stay here for a while and watch this new Batman cut his teeth on all of that neon. I wish DC would take a page out of the KNIGHT & SQUIRE playbook and have Cornell and, let's say, Casey and Ellis and why not invite Aaron along for the ride? Get all those guys to catch laterals off this series, little one-shots or minis picking up on all these international threads that Morrison's leaving dangling, plates he starts spinning. Unless, God forbid, Morrison isn't playing the set-up game he did for SEVEN SOLDIERS and ATOM and METAL MEN (and I guess we can throw Super Young Team in here, as well) and is actually going to bring all of this together for the grandest of finales.
Far too soon to tell. Give Joe Casey a ring in the meantime, I say.