Thursday, December 8, 2011


ACTION COMICS #4—There are those who complain and kvetch that Morrison has followed up his absolutely mind-blowing ALL-STAR SUPERMAN with a rebooted younger character who’s much more of a pugilistic Socialist type of fella than the fair and wise icon who shows us all how to do what’s right by example. And I see where they’re coming from. The first couple of issues were pretty jarring for me, as well. But in this issue, when confronted with a giant tank-robot rampaging through the streets of Metropolis, our brash protagonist does not, cannot, fly circles around him or blast him with heat vision or super-breath or any of the dozens of other powers that have blossomed out of his seven decades of continuity. All he’s got is the old “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound” powers set. So, what does our boy do? He picks up a WGBS news truck and chunks it at the tank. It was just a couple of panels at the top of the page, not even laid out to be that big of a deal, but in a single action, it perfectly encapsulates how far back Morrison has dialed the character and I, for one, can’t wait to see what the bruiser does next in the name of what he perceives to be the American Way. Occupy Metropolis.

O.M.A.C. #4—This one might be the best issue yet, a simple lesson in interdependence. Giffen continues to channel the raw Kirby dynamic and Didio’s shutting down his detractors with a script that’s a perfect tonal complement. Great fun. Looking forward to the brawl next month.

ANIMAL MAN #4 & SWAMP THING #4—We can totally get by with a single review here as, with symphonic precision, Snyder & Lemire drop the revelations and make explicit what anybody who’s been reading these two back-to-back since the first week of September should have been suspecting. These guys are fighting different fronts of the same battle. I mean, Red and Green? These two writers have been playing games, weaving this together since the start, we’ve got the Parliament of Limbs in ANIMAL MAN and the Parliament of Trees over in SWAMP THING, but what’s really got me scratching my head is how Snyder is going to thread in the Parliament of Owls over in Capullo’s Gotham. Because it isn’t like that’s a coincidence, hey ya? Overall, just a really cool effect, knocking these back in singles on the front lines, seeing the threads start to tighten up, everything coming together. Great news to hear that Pugh’s coming back over to draw or paint the Bakers, that dude is the real deal. And, really, Foreman is a tough follow, they had to get somebody insane. Meanwhile, over in SWAMP THING, Marco Rudy does a beautiful job of pinchhitting for Yanick Paquette while he hunkers down and tries to devise new ways to outflank J.H. Williams III by means of flowing layout. He’s got his work cut out for him, but has certainly been rising to the challenge, thus far. Reading all of these books in one go, man, just so grateful. Head over heels for DC’s new first week.

STORMWATCH #4—All right, yeah, clearly old Adam One is not in it for the long haul. Which is fine with me. This was Midnighter’s issue, running point against The Attack of the Crazed Lost City. Weird reboot moment, him cupping Apollo’s face, “Do you trust me?” You’re married, guys! You were . . .

THE BOYS #61—I guess it’s a good thing that that seriously ominous cover didn’t take place within these pages? This is nothing less than another slab of homestretch goodness from Ennis and the lads. Hughie’s still bitching, the Butcher’s still cutting wise about stabbing people to death, and in the eleventh hour, we get The Sensational Character Find of 2011, Muzzeltov. Truly, one for the ages.

X-FACTOR #228—No follow-up on the wedding night cliffhanger, just right back over the edge with it, by way of a different path, L O S T-style. Curse you, David! Kirk and company continue to provide top-flight work as we get a confirmation about what we’ve been suspecting about Guido all along and the writer hawks some Minimates. I wonder what everybody knows so much about that won’t be in-book until #230, really pleased the spoilers haven’t made their way in this direction. Just two more months to go, I guess.

BEST OF WEEK: THE DEFENDERS #1—Even better than I dared hope for. I was honestly considering tradewaiting this instead of signing on for another $4 Marvel single, but I loved Fraction’s Dr. Strange short in the .1 thing, so figured I’d at least give the first issue a shot. So glad I did. This right here is the introduction of the Fraction Casanova Crazy into the 616. You heard it here first, True Believers! I get why he reins it in over there with Stark. Wish he’d brought this out a bit more over on UNCANNY (instead of just confining it to #512). But here, amidst this convergence of weird coincidence breaking through to end the world, this is the perfect place for Fraction to fan the freaky, and I have a feeling he’s barely getting started. The Dodsons and Oback provide a lunatic counterpoint with lush smooth lines that scream Mainstream Superhero and belie all the scratchy bizarre menace unfolding with every page. I like how Doctor Strange is kind of an egotistical, grad-student-banging piece of shit. I love Danny Rand reading MARVELMAN (I mean, the line of the week, hands down, is "The older I get, the more life seems to be the stupid, frustrating stuff that gets in the way of YOU and reading comics."). But my favorite part has to be the non-sequiter footers. After that initial jolt/blurb for #4 (which is a hilarious thing to do on the third page of your first issue), they start back in innocuously enough with the old tried-and-true CONTINUED ON AFTER NEXT PAGE and you just think, cool, channeling the 70s, yeah man, go, but then the bottom drops out with SHUT THE ENGINES DOWN and, my favorite, EVERYONE YOU LOVE DIES. Wha—? This is immediately one of my favorite Marvel titles, and you know they’re just scratching the surface. BRING ON THE MADNESS.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


TINY TITANS #46—Baltazar & Franco continue tearing it to pieces on this slow fifth week by folding The Protector from that old Keebler Anti-Drug New Teen Titans special back in the 80s just as ridiculously as he was in his first (and only?) appearance. Not to mention revealing the identity of the Mysterious New 52 Hooded Purple Lady! Definitely worth the price of admission. That shot of Talon sending all the bats and rocketpack penguins off is one for the ages.

FF #12—Wow, pretty serious departure here from what’s gone before, in terms of art. With the main title piggybacking off this numbering and dropping a #600 last week, this is suddenly the spinoff title featuring the gang of kids that Reed’s put together as a futurist think tank, an idea I’m all for. Going with Juan Bobillo seems slighty risky, particularly coming right off of Kitson, just because the former’s got so much of a scratchier, stylized, I-guess-for-want-of-a-better-label indie aesthetic going on. I, for one, loved it, but can see a bunch of Hitch/McNiven fans picking this up and dropping the title before lucky #13 comes out at the end of the year, figuring they’ll be getting their fill from the original FANTASTIC FOUR. That would be a terrible mistake, though, because Hickman’s got plenty going on here, most importantly breakout character Val Richards getting a little bit of elbow room to shine, now that she’s out from under the shadow of her family. And, yeah, Doom, Nathaniel, the last alternate Reed, this one has got it going on. I’ve never been so grateful for a title doubling down.

ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES #4—Hickman keeps the focus on Thor while just running riot through the mythos in a way that would never, ever fly back in the good old 616. SPOILER ALERT: But hey, that’s what this thing was built for, just to smash the toys to fucking bits, and Reed Richards incubating a population in a 900-year singularity and then using them to take over most of the world and straight up kill Asgard is definitely taking things as far as they need to be taken. Past the point, some might say. Month in, month out, one of the books I feel best about spending $4 on.

UNCANNY X-MEN #2—Gah, the renumbering’s still so annoying. Not my Uncanny! I first fell into this world in the summer of ’88, right when Sinister was ramping up Inferno and there were redheads and darkchildes to spare (darkchildren? feh…). And so it took a bit of hindsight for me to realize what a kind of stupid villain he was, was just too overwhelmed with trying to get a grasp of the mythos, back in the day. All of which to say, here, Gillen takes what’s always been a pretty weak antagonist and turns him into someone who might even be worthy of being the first Big Bad on a relaunch of this magnitude. He’s still got a grasp of the characters and their team dynamic (though it would be nice if Namor ever did something besides trying to talk his way into Emma’s corset). The best part might be that Gillen’s managed to hang on to Hope Summers, a character that he did a fine job making his own during that first year of GENERATION NEXT. Merry mutant mayhem for the new millennium!

FABLES #111—Willingham and company wrap this latest arc up to satisfying effect while dropping a serious cliffhanger that leaves the reader gasping for more.

BEST OF WEEK: SPACEMAN #2—You know I love me some Hickman, but the 100 BULLETS crew really kicks into gear here and easily blow everybody else out of the water. It’s just synergy, man, all of the elements of the medium perfectly complementing each other. These people have been at the top of their collective game for many years now, and that comes through on every page. They’re incapable of turning in anything less than riveting. I mean, Trish Mulvihill’s colors might be the best thing about this book, if you have to pick one thing. And Eduardo Risso drew it, you know. Ridiculous. This one’s really just getting started and already moving up on my list of most anticipated monthly reads.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


FANTASTIC FOUR #600—BEST OF WEEK by a light year. It isn’t even fair. What a monster. Everything has been building to this, and Hickman and company start ripping it up right out of the gate. Namor hits on Sue at the bottom of Page Five, even. So much going on! Hickman’s done a masterful job choreographing all of these elements into this crescendo. The Kree armada cues up extinction to get at the Inhumans/Black Bolt’s other wives, causing Annihilus to accelerate his plans and invade the Baxter Building, which triggers the kids jumping the top three floors to the moon, all of which amounting to payoff on months of set-up to bring Peter Parker racing right into the crosshairs of a perfect returning line from Johnny “you never saw my body” Storm. And the value of this book is incredible. Particularly going by current Marvel standards. I mean, this 96-page behemoth should retail for $19.99 at the typical page rate. The opening Epting chapter is 28 pages long with only a lone ad and is, all by itself, better than anything else this week. The Johnny catch-up is a beastly 48 pages, again with only a single double-page ad that completely flattened me on the first readthrough, because I hit the text on the first page without scoping out the second and thought that Hickman had written some Completely Fucking Insane Thing about some kind of superhero reality show with a protagonist named Kirby, and there was another bit about tree removal and it was just completely destroying me until I realized that it was a perfectly-placed ad for the video game character and had nothing to do with getting all meta-crazy on the King.

But back to the narrative, there’s a concern about Johnny and those worms. So, he DID die, he’s just been resurrected several times. Of course. Not cheating at all. This leads into a pretty great Negative Zone riff on The Great Escape by way of Gladiator and paves the way for a pretty ridiculous status quo for Johnny, going forward. Then Ming Doyle draws a real pretty seven-page piece with Black Bolt and Medusa getting their shit together after and amidst all of this five brides nonsense. This gives way to six pages of Yu laying some further foundation for whatever they’ve been building up with Galactus for a while now. Old Hickman is a fan of the heat death, and no two ways about it. The huge surprise of this issue is Farel Dalrymple and Jose Villarrubia dropping the serious indie business on the final seven-page story starring Franklin and Leech. The art really emphasizes the wonderment of the young protagonists, the way they see the already-fantastic 616. Sign me up for the adventures of Hyperstorm & Kid Incredible just any old Wednesday, now. But who’s the white-out man? Morrison’s got me conditioned to expect Hickman at that point, but could it be future Franklin? Or Nathaniel? It looks like that one will play itself out, eventually. So much gets both resolved and set up in this gargantuan tome. 2012 is going to be a really, really good time to be a Fantastic Four fan. And I could go on and on, get all symphonic about it, but last week’s holiday means I’m writing this on the next Wednesday night and FF #12 is waiting . . .

SECRET AVENGERS #19—This one lives up to the high, high marks set by Aja’s outing last month. Lark/Gaudiano/Villarrubia are hosses. And Ellis is still such a razor-sharp bastard. Such a treat, having him do these. Every single beat is perfectly choreographed, every line stretched for maximum impact at minimum verbosity. This has got to be the leanest, most satisfying twenty-page comic on the rack. Ellis is throwing down a master class in done-in-ones, very much worth the cover price every single time.


THE MIGHTY THOR #8—Mmmm, I hate to say it, but I’m suddenly considering dropping the Fraction run. And it’s been pretty great, so far. But this is a poor follow to FEAR ITSELF, not a very interesting new status quo, and who told Laura Martin she could have some time off? Insane difference between this and what we were getting with Coipel. I want to say Hollingsworth was coloring Ferry last before they all jumped over here to make way for Gillen’s journey? D’Armata, not doing it for me. This is a bad situation, folks, I don’t want to bail out on Fraction Thor, but at $4 a pop/forevah&evah, they’ve got one more shot to change my mind.

THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #510—This, on the other hand, managed to keep me pretty engaged through the FI dismount. I am a little tired of Fraction keeping the alcoholism so much at the forefront, but I guess when you have a recovering (-ed, you say?) addict writing a multi-year IRON MAN run, that’s pretty much going to go with the territory. #500 was stellar, but I hope we’re not going to burn pages in recovery every other month. Maybe at some point we’ll learn the difference between not drinking and staying sober. I never seem to be able to hit either one of those on Wednesday nights.

KICK-ASS 2 #5—Yeah, I’m pretty much otherwise done with Millar, but he’s still turning in really entertaining work here, running the initial premise down to the inevitable glorious, bloody and completely over-the-top conclusion. I’m not sure there’s enough room for Vaughan and company to do a sequel that’s as much better than this as their first movie was than the original mini-series, but if they just manage to pull off a movie that’s at least as good as this, it will be quite the damn ride.

THE UNWRITTEN #31.5—I wouldn’t mind this going apparently biweekly at all if I hadn’t just seen 28-30 in the quarter-bin at Half Price this morning. That smarts! This thing, though, a serious jam. If you’ve got to bench Gross, then Kaluta, Rick Geary, and Talbot are a mighty fine pickup. Serious material here, Carey’s delivering the deep goods, all of a sudden, very much coming across as dropping origins, then about-facing on the last page and promising maybe we’ll get into that next month. This reminds me that this series used to drop the serious non-Tommy issues in between arcs, which I guess we’re suddenly going to get concurrent with the proper book. Judging from this first month out, it should be quite a ride.

FLASH #3—This one continues to be one of the stars of the reboot, nothing more or less than two very talented creators telling a great story with a great character. Manapul continues to nudge the form every chance he gets, always delivering the kind of kinetic shots that this book lives or dies by. Great work. Bummer ending, though. They shot him in the head! How’s he gonna get out of that one, Manuel?

SUPERMAN #3—Mm, I’ve got to call bullshit on this one. The first five pages just straight recap the first three issues of ACTION and the first two issues of this. Well, there’s one page in there that’s the bridge between the two, but it’s not exactly riveting to have Titano’s post-reboot existence confirmed. A Max Fleischer name-drop does not an entire page justify. A full 25% of the book is recap, thinly veiled as some schmuck’s not-that-fair-or-balanced take on Superman, by way of J. Jonah Jameson. And poor Nicola Scott must have picked this one up at the last minute, a few of these pages are not representative of her ability. The 80s writing style was a curiosity for me the first couple of go-rounds, now I’m not sure I’m even going to hang out for this arc.

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #3—This one’s coalescing for me. Which might just mean Constantine was in it for more than two pages, this time. The art is still gorgeous. I really need to make that old SHADE run happen for myself, pretty sure I’d be much more into this if I was down with the old Racman. It was on the bubble, but I can definitely hang on through the opening arc, at least.

ALL-STAR WESTERN #3—Huh. And now this one suddenly seems to have worn out its welcome, lost its charm. Don’t know if Moritat was just a little bit more rushed or I’ve got my fill of Hex for the season or just wasn’t drunk enough or what, but this issue fell a bit short, wasn’t nearly as magnificent as the first two. Too, I could give a shit about El Diablo, Bernet art or not, so maybe that was a problem. This definitely doesn’t seem like a title that DC should be pressing the pricepoint on. Hope we get the mojo back next month, podnuh.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


BATMAN #3—So beautiful. For me, pretty much a perfect comic book. This one continues to deliver devastating material on every level. Snyder’s words are still razor-sharp and Capullo/Glapion continue to imbue Gotham with a vibrance and depth of character that I haven’t seen in some time. Capullo, in particular, guy is just a master draftsman firing on all levels, the choices he makes. Like that one super-skinny vertical panel on the left to set up the larger shot of Batman in the hangglider, stuff that seems so obvious after it’s done because it works so well but that took a truly gifted mind to pull up out of a blank page. Just an absurd level of quality.BEST OF WEEK

JUSTICE LEAGUE #3—The script finally caught up with the art on this one, a rollicking ride. I dug the tone of Johns’s Wonder Woman, just barely a variation of various other takes we’ve seen, but it dialed me right in to the character in that opening scene. Less so, Superman maiming the gang of parademons. That business rang false. Geoff Johns, do not impose your crazy bloodlust on the rebooted Man of Steel, there is simply no need for such a thing. It was a slow start, but this one’s gelling into the great big dumb fun team book that I was expecting. And the backmatter was great fun, I was actually pissed when I finished the foreword and turned the page to find out that was it, I was all on-board with David Graves’ Secret History of Atlantis. Oh, and everybody else hears John DiMaggio’s voice when Aquaman talks, right? God, I’m going to miss that show. Outrageous!

WONDER WOMAN #3—This is another fantastic issue. DC really goes thermonuclear on the third week, these three books are ridiculous. I don’t know if I’m just acclimated to the vibe or what, but this is one of the first Azzarello reads where I didn’t feel like I had to work, crank my comprehension up a little bit to fully acclimate myself with the narrative. And Chiang is straight A-list, turning in some serious pages. That two-page shot of her lighting the fires was gorgeous. I hope whoever they get to fill in is up to the challenge. Tough gig, there. Hell of a week to be a Wonder Woman fan.

BUTCHER BAKER CANDLESTICKMAKER #5—After the total WTF? ending last month, Ennis had a lot of heavy lifting to do to bring us in line and up to speed with the Butcher we know, love, and fear. The fact that he does so entirely through postmortem epistolary form is a testament to his jawdropping facility as a writer. Making your reader weep with only the dead woman’s last journal entry is just a hell of a trick. Of course, Darick Robertson delivers spot-on character work as well, giving us every line of horror on Butcher’s face, mirroring our own, we’re all reading the same words. Hah, Robertson probably just filmed himself reading the script and drew that. This is quite likely the best single Ennis issue I’ve ever read. Top drawer work. Should be quite the final burst next month.

MORNING GLORIES #14—Well, I’ve finally found someone more insane about the L O S T than I am/was, as Nick Spencer pulls a slice out of the old Lindelof textbook on chronology and gives us the second half of what went down last issue. Which is cool enough, but he also makes the unfortunate mistake of carrying over the really annoying bit about repeating what’s already come before, which drove me crazy when it was like twenty (fine, twenty-three) seconds in a forty-two minute episode, but it’s much more egregious when it’s two entire pages out of a twenty-two page book. Not the kind of pacing/content that makes me happy. Still, Eisma’s art remains sharp and carries the story well.

X-FACTOR #227—Feels like I’ve been saying this for a few months now, but Best Recap Page Ever. That business put me down. Just priceless. The tradewaiters have no idea what they’re missing. Another sharp script by David that winks at the reader quite a few times but somehow never suffers for it, because it’s just jam-packed with that much wit. Kirk remains a welcome addition. And wow, trapdoor into the long-teased wedding night. Already can’t wait for next issue.

FEAR ITSELF #7.3—I’m conflicted because on one hand, I think that I’ve enjoyed at least the first two of these three epilogue issues as single-issue experiences more than I did the main title. That’s probably got something to do with expectations. With the proper book, I was expecting earth-shattering momentous events erupting out of every page turn, or at least at the end of every issue. With these epilogues, I was looking for character-defining codas that resolved the core Avenger trinity’s arcs. But really, at the end of the day, didn’t these epilogues each just undo an aspect of the Big Wow that took place in the main title? SPOILER WARNING: Stop reading and hop on down to Brubaker’s CAP now, if you want to remain fresh for plot developments in FEAR ITSELF #1-7.3. Brubaker unkilled Bucky (just like he did with Steve a couple of years ago), Fraction sowed the seeds for Thor’s inevitable return, and then over here he resurrects Paris. Which really felt like the cheapest move of all. I can understand why they went the way they did with the first two, but this one was malarkey. Not that I’ve got anything against gay Paree, but they completely minimize the preceding story by just resetting everything the month after the “final” issue. And I didn’t really buy either of these conversations. Why did Odin bother restoring Paris? Stark would have to make quite a sale to make that happen, which I would have been interested to see, Fraction writing him with the snappy-snap trying to talk old One-Eye into it, but he didn’t even begin to go down that route. And the big inversion, making it to the end of the issue only to discover that the conversation between Tony and Duvall should be read differently than we were reading it on the first pass, well, all it really does is let the wind out of the sails of that entire half of the issue. I’m running out of steam on Marvel twenty-page $4 singles pretty hard. Starting to wish Fraction and Bru would just call it a day and let me off the hook. Because I can’t stop myself!

CAPTAIN AMERICA #4—This one flies right by but is certainly pretty to look at. I’m not sure I see the point of those pages where Steve doesn’t realize what’s going on. Seems like wasted time, and yet again, I got no patience for that in a $4 twenty-pager. It’s been a long haul with Brubaker, but this one’s on the bubble. Unless they bring in Alan Davis after this arc, or something.

AVENGERS #19—Yet another round of Who’s Going To Be On The Team?, a game that’s been going on so long both here and across the street over in various iterations of a certain league championing justice that it’s practically a trope by now and pretty much expected every three or four years. Bendis does better with it than most. I loved the panel of Logan and Spidey deciding not to go out there. As well as the beat between Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Ororo. The rooftop recruitment leading in to the Storm reveal would have been a lot cooler if they hadn’t announced it in San Diego, I mean, how many extra units did they really think that was going to move? One hiccup, Cap mentions Thor by name not once but twice, losing old Goldilocks given as a principal reason that he’s trolling for new recruits. But isn’t the whole new deal with Fraction’s Thor that there’s always been Tanarus? No one except Loki remembers or misses Thor? Tanarus has always been an Avenger, saved the world many times, etc, etc? It’s like Bendis didn’t get the memo. And you could argue that this story takes place before the reboot in FEAR ITSELF #7.2, but it seems a bit wonky to set anything with the latest greatest brand (SHATTERED HEROES) before the epilogue to the last thing. Even weirder, because I think Fraction and Bendis are like Portland buddies, share family dinners and so forth. It does not compute. Anyway, Acuña blows it up on art, beautiful work. And very cool to get Daisy Johnson dropped back into the mix out of nowhere, glad to check back in with her after SECRET WARRIORS, though I thought Hickman had Fury declare that she was irreconcilably broken? Maybe Bendis has a plan.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


FEAR ITSELF #7.2—This one pretty much possesses me from the first page. Opening line’s a perfect hook and the art is beautiful. The tone of the story is different than I’ve seen from Fraction, much more of a Gaiman-our-stories-and-dreams-define-us kind of thing. I guess everyone who cares probably already picked this up, but Marvel might should have let folks know that this is no bullshit cashgrab epilogue but actually a pretty crucial chapter in Fraction’s THOR run, absolutely essential because it debuts the new premise, going forward. It’s certainly a bizarre maneuver, but we’ll see where it goes. Until THOR 2 hits the screen, I’m pretty sure ol’ Goldilocks will be back in place by then. With a new #1!!!!

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #631—Fie on serious recap pages! Glad I read Fraction first. That advice probably should have made the serious recap page. What a great set-up, Loki conspiring to kill Tanarus with the reader kind of on-board, after all these years. Take that God of Thunder out, little man! I’m pretty sure “forgot” on page 3, panel 3 should be “forgotten.” Hilarious line, “I also know what memes ARE. It’s a catchy idea.” That set-up somehow makes Loki dropping “BFF” later on inoffensive, no small trick. And absolutely crushing last page, I kind of just want to stop reading this series right here, just because it’s the perfect beat to end on, you without question cannot get better than cycling back to Simonson’s first page. Gillen has done first-rate storytelling on his entire run, here.

THE NEW AVENGERS #18—The execution of this is tight and right, I mean, Bendis makes the term “professional” seem like a gaping understatement, has been batting the industry around like a piñata for years now. I do question him heading right back to the well with this Dark Avengers malarkey, however. We just did this. Like a year and a half ago. This kind of thing would have been a lot more effective if he’d let Norman rot for longer than like a year, reader-time, and the whole Dark Avenger period had just a few more years to get all freshened up with that warm nostalgic glow. I passed on the DA series when it was coming out and don’t care for it getting shoehorned into this title that I’ve been enjoying up until now. Not that I’m not still enjoying it, but do you see? If Bendis/Marvel put out DARK AVENGERS volume 2 #1 for three dollars and ninety-nine cents, I would not buy a ticket on that train and kind of resent it docking in here at this particular station.

MARVEL POINT ONE #.1(or something, I guess?)—This is a pretty solid anthology by a whole gang of Marvel’s A-list guys, as well as other fellas who step up to the plate real well. With the exception of Jeph Loeb. Way to completely kill the momentum of a double-page splash Phoenix manifestation planet-razing by having Nova say “epic fail.” It’s Marvel Comics, not fucking Attack of the Show. So terrible. But there are some other interesting bits in here. Lapham/de la Torre’s AoA series actually looks worth trying out, interesting dynamic with that cast of characters. And I could give a shit about the Scarlet Spider but found the short a decent read. Quite liked Van Lente/Larroca’s Yin & Yang. And they certainly sequenced this right, ramp up with Fraction/Dodson’s second short lead-in to their DEFENDERS channeling plenty of that old Gerber crazy followed by Bendis and Hitch absolutely fucking it up with some of the trusty old Avengers Ultron madness. All framed by an intriguing sequence by Brubaker/Pulido. A pretty well-put-together little sampler, this.

THE UNWRITTEN #31—Well, yes, our little wizard is all grown up. Tommy Taylor goes on the offensive, much to the disconsternation of Lizzie Hexam. As ever, the multimedia page was the best one of the entire issue. I would be so all over an actual Tommy Taylor and the _________ novel ghost-written by Carey.

FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. #3—This one really comes into its own as the squad has to battle The Titans of Monster Planet. Lemire delivers a rocking pulp plot, but it’s really Alberto Ponticelli’s scratchy linework that’s the star of this show.

DEMON KNIGHTS #3—I’m kind of waning on this one. It’s not terrible, but isn’t doing a great job of dialing me into the characters. Cornell is certainly trying to blow Johns’s skirt up with the serious mayhem, gore, and violence, though. I was just making it to the end of the issue saying to myself, Well, the only crazy thing was that priest getting his face all melted off and dragged to Hell, which, you know, a fine baseline, but then we get the plucky young heroine decapitated on the last page. Making it happen.

GREEN LANTERN #3—Man, I didn’t think that Geoff Johns could heart anybody bigger than Hal or Barry, but it looks like ol’ Sinestro has been wearing the one ring to rule them all this entire time. Really digging the former Green Lantern of Space Sector 1417 taking the lead of this book and making it happen on good old 2814. Very much hoping he doesn’t get shuffled off to the side after the first arc. Mahnke and friends continue to deliver very sharp and clean lines for what feels like ten years running now, even though it’s probably been more like three.

BATWOMAN #3—Again, Williams shows up with a comic book that it’s almost unfair to compare to any other, just because it’s so out of everybody else’s league. He’s playing in a different sandbox, my friends! Consistently turning in the most engaging fight scenes that I can remember running across in some time (Quitely and Stewart a little while back in BATMAN & ROBIN being the only ones who even come close), that trick of slashing time with illuminated frames within the same panel, such a stylistic marvel. It’s downright unnerving how he’ll draw/color Kate and Betty in different styles within the same panel, dude’s just spitting fire on top his game. BEST OF WEEK, no problem.

BATMAN & ROBIN #3—Tomasi/Gleason go six for six in their overall run, a hat trick on this latest iteration. I’m really enjoying this title’s emphasis on the new father/son dynamic that’s suddenly in effect, tons of great bits sprinkled throughout. Does the chess game at the top indicate that Bruce was manipulating Damian into disobeying him and serving as live bait? Afraid that Tomasi got the transmission garbled on that last panel as Damian drove off, what Alfred really said was, “I shan’t, Master Damian. I shan’t.” With this book consistently delivering gripping tales of the family dynamic duo, Morrison’s homestretch set to kick off here any time now, rumors of Daniel not crapping all over DETECTIVE, and Snyder/Capullo/Glapion absolutely murdering the eponymous title, to say nothing of J.H.III up above, this franchise has rarely, if ever, been in such good shape.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


ACTION COMICS #3—All right, this one feels perfect all of a sudden, Morrison sliding into place and finally igniting the afterburners. Maybe it was just the opening scene-shift to Krypton with Ha, but from the top of the first page, this book was suddenly everything that I’ve been wanting it to be. Though Clark’s last page has got to be the most jarring I Give Up montage of all time. What, wait, really? That was it? You’re done? Because they threw a brick and a bottle at you? The best jarring cut was from Clark’s “Duly charmed,” (easily my favorite panel of these three issues) to the woman telling him the ghost of a white dog is watching over him. Spooky. And getting back to that white dog, does the conversation between the dog and Jor-El on Page Three indicate that Krypto was like Governor of Krypton or something? I mean, from the way that pooch is talking, he clearly outranks Jor-El and straight up comes across as the leader of the planet. The dog. From the mind of Grant Morrison! BEST OF WEEK.

OMAC #3—This is nothing less than more Kirby krackle kindling and seething up out of every page. I love that DC is putting this thing out there, surely a great offense or possibly eye-opening experience to tykes reared on the pencilers of the modern age. Maybe this will get old for me, but it’s going to take a while. Didio and Giffen continue to do a masterful job at channeling the King, more the vibe of his 60s Marvel stuff than, you know the actual series or Era of Kirby that provides this thing’s source material, but it makes no nevah mind to me. SMASH!

ANIMAL MAN #3—Yeah, and Lemire and Foreman continue to absolutely kick ass and tear it up on one of the relaunch’s breakout hits, the truly horrific latest take on the Baker family. Best panel was Mom hitting the guy with the car, scored by Mullet Cliff’s “Awesome!” Because that’s exactly how it would happen. When you’ve managed verisimilitude during the suburban mom’s sideswiping the extradimensional entity from the Red with her Prias or what have you, you done real good.

SWAMP THING #3—Snyder cranks this one up a bit, and a good thing, too, because I haven’t been blown away by the story thus far. But the way he gets into it with that kid, nice creeping EC vibe that has always suited this title. Was all impressed with Paquette on this one, then shocked to make it to the end and discover that Victor Ibanez drew most of it. Nice job, editorial, no artistic disconnect for me, whatsoever, though, yeah, I can now totally go back and tell the difference. More great times. It’s good fun that this and ANIMAL MAN come out on the same day.

STORMWATCH #3—Is that Adam guy starting to really annoy anybody else? I think it’s maybe the facial hair. Or maybe just how he showed up out of nowhere and is all the boss of these guys, suddenly. Maybe that’s how Cornell wants us to feel. This is more planetary-scale authoritarian superhero widescreen. I’m not crazy in love with it, just such a water-down of Ellis/Hitch glory, forevermore, but feel like I can hang out with it for a while, if only because I trust Cornell’s long game.

AMERICAN VAMPIRE #20—Another real interesting grab-you-by-the-throat installment. Snyder keeps zigging instead of zagging. There’s no way that Hole In The Sky just took out that ur-American Vampire in the cave offscreen, right? Snyder did such a tremendous job of dialing us into that character via a tenish-page origin (don’t have it in front of me at the moment) that the last thing I expected when the present-day scene ended was for her to suddenly be out of commission. What’s most interesting is that this is as far back as he’s taken us, I mean, Skinner Sweet had been the oldest AV we’ve seen, but obviously either the Native American girl or Hole In The Sky are going to turn him. Which, seems like we’re going to need much more of an origin for the new vampire species than what we got in the first half of this issue, but I’m pretty sure Snyder knows that and’ll just keep doing what he’s doing. Jordi Bernet is a treasure, as ever.

THE BOYS #60—Jesus, Ennis. Love that he actually worked Logan’s catchphrase in there, too hilarious. And what, that’s supposed to be Rob Liefeld’s Nineties Attack Squad who burst in at the end? This book sometimes feels like a glorious mess of a trainwreck while still managing to convey that it’s anything but. That Ennis is one sharp tack.

KIRBY: GENESIS #4—(last week’s release, but I had to track down #3 in the meantime b/c it never showed up at my LCS, so here we go): This continues to be a delightful, insane romp through the fertile abundance of Kirbyspace, all the characters he created who didn’t grow up to keep the lights on at the Big Two or turn into cartoons or movies. Busiek does fine work with the difficult task of balancing out the lunatic concept of mashing all of these folks together, giving us little bits here and there to latch on to, producing the cumulative effect of just walking in blind to a new publishing house to jump on board with their latest Big Crossover Event. Who are all these people? What’s going on? If all isn’t revealed, at least enough is to keep you on the hook for what happens next. Wish we could get more Ross pages per month, but I’ll take whatever he turns in.

UNCANNY X-MEN #1—Pretty much what I expected here, quite a few great little character beats that are the lifeblood of this title, if not franchise. It’s a really good time to be a mutant fan. The only false note, if I can make myself care about or in any way respect Sinister, which, still having trouble with, but Dr. Nemesis’s dialogue came off as totally out of character. Meaning it wasn’t Warren Ellis about to castrate me with a spoon. Fucking hell, get on it, Gillen, make those words sing and cut, my son!

FEAR ITSELF #7.1—Ah, hahahhaha! This read as inadvertently hilarious for me, and I mean it in a good way. By far, my biggest gripe about this event was the way it just tossed Bucky to the lions after all the years of fine rehabilitative character work that Brubaker had done. And all the investment that readers made in him. Just to have it all ripped away. I mean, I don’t believe I was the only reader who finished #3 and had no idea that he was supposed to be Dead dead, because we’ve seen something like that happen and reverse itself so many times. Then, it seemed to take. But then Bru drops the other shoe here, to tremendous effect, Steve trying to beat the shit out of Fury definitely made me chuckle. I don’t know if I’m on board with a WINTER SOLDIER series, however. I’m sure it will be top-notch with Brubaker/Guice at the helm, but if it’s yet another $4 single, and I have no reason to believe it won’t be, I’m reaching my breaking point with Marvel shit I’m going to plunk that down for every four weeks. Or two. Spreading Brubaker out on three Cap titles makes sense from a financial and even creative standpoint, I guess, but it’s kind of a dick move to the readers who’ve been invested in his run on a monthly basis since the beginning (or #4, anyway, close enough).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


FF #11—This thing is a juggernaut, a biweekly Big Event unto itself, and nothing can stop it. Kitson lights these pages on fire and Hickman continues to steer the hypernarrative with the finesse and grace of a master craftsman. That one-two shot of the camera pulling out on Reed’s monologue for four panels followed by the double-page spread of the Marvel Universe A-listers is better than every single moment that happened in FEAR ITSELF, sorry, crew. With Morrison Batman on the bench, this thing is my favorite regular series by a mile*.

ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATE ULTIMATES #3—It was such a crowded damn week, I seriously considered leaving this $4 single on the racks, but man, glad I didn’t. Hickman continues to conjure the thunder we remember from the original Millar/Hitch run while making all the plot and character development seem organic, as opposed to the latest OMG,WTF? that Millar dreamed up. That last exchange between Thor and Tony was just about the best dialogue between two characters that I read all week long. I really really loved Tony’s line about the MP followed by the look Thor gave him, Ribic knocked that shit out of the part. It was perfect, felt so true. Which, no mean feat to accomplish in an exchange between the Norse God of Thunder and a genius billionaire in a flying warsuit of armor aboard a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier. It would be funny and silly if Ultimate Thor died next issue, from an Ultimate vs. 616 standpoint, though I’m confident that Hickman will find a way to make it break our hearts.

THE RED WING #4—This looked absolutely gorgeous, kudos to Nik Pattera and Rachel Rosenburg. And it was definitely a great concept with a lot of room in which to tell a story. However, I never felt like Hickman sent us the right codes in order to dial into the characters. I mean, obviously the whole father/son dynamic is a universal thing, but there wasn’t enough here to make it seem unique or worth exploring in this admittedly unique context. These people were ciphers. I didn’t care when they died, other than how freaking cool it looked. Certainly not a waste of money, paper, or time, but I walk away from these four issues with a greater degree of graphic titillation than satisfaction.

SECRET AVENGERS #18—Now, this is the real deal, right here. Ellis has been turning in the serious business from page one of #16, but in Aja, editorial finally brings in somebody who can elevate the script, not merely hang on for dear life. Aja is the perfect choice for an issue featuring Shang Chi kung fu-ing the hell out of goons in a space station. A couple of those multi-gravity spreads are straight Escher, as jawdrop cool as anything I can remember running across lately. I seem to recall Ellis complaining online a few months ago about it being hard to dial into the mindset required to generate these scripts, but it doesn’t show, very much rocking the GLOBAL FREQUENCY hyper-espionage done-in-one greatness, but somehow even more streamlined, the adventures of Steve Rogers & Sharon Carter and their crack squad of secret superheroes, alone against the fringe science of the insidious Shadow Council. And improbably, the last two panels elevate the entire thing up into the stratosphere, while simultaneously bringing us back down to Earth and tying up the entire narrative in a neat bow. While winking at the reader. Perfection. I really loved FF, but this right here has got to be BEST OF WEEK.

CAPTAIN SWING & THE ELECTRICAL PIRATES OF CINDERY ISLAND #4—It’s been quite some time since #3 came out, but a quick jog back through and I was up to speed on Ellis’s update on the Spring-Heeled Jack legend by way of steampunk humanist electrical sky pirate utopia. Which reads quite a bit differently two months into the Occupy movement, as opposed to two years ahead of it. That ol' Ellis can’t shut his inner futurist off even if he turns the dial back to 1830, it seems. There are no great surprises or swerves here, this one pretty much does everything that it’s supposed to, but all it really has to give you is enough shots of that ship getting rowed through the clouds by electrical oars. I guess I didn’t see that kiss coming. Make that “steampunk humanist electrical sky pirate utopia romance”. Great fun, and if this is indeed Ellis’s final Avatar book, certainly a finish worthy of what’s come before.

WOLVERINE $ THE X-MEN #1—Ah, that’s a Freudian typo right there, we’re going to leave it. This was one of two Marvel $4 books I had to leave on the rack. Thanks for the loaner, Tommy! Not having bought it, I was totally conflicted reading it, because I’m all about the Bachalo, especially on colors, and Aaron kills it, as well, every beat, from Logan and Chuck’s opening stroll to the inevitable and perfectly telegraphed final page. As jaded as reading about and loving these merry mutants for 23 years has made me, I got totally punched in the gut when I hit that double-page spread and he says the name of the school. So good. Quite an ensemble we have here, as illustrated by that nifty little chart in the appendix. Don’t really see how I can be passing this one up every month. Dammit, Marvel! Of course, nothing beats the course schedule, too too great. The writer of SCALPED creating a class taught by Kentucky’s own Samuel J. Guthrie all about comic books, ranging from Kirby to Morrison, is an absolute brainmelt mindfuck.

HULK #1—Ha ha, beards. Who’s writing this, again? This is an interesting pilot, starting Hulk out in a new place and making Banner pretty much Dr. Moreau, but I think I’ll be all right giving this the miss. Though how has Jeff Parker already racked up two trades? Feel like a total asshole for letting those get by me.

THE MIGHTY THOR #7—It’s kind of a strange move to drop the prequel the week after the climax of the entire event, but after their first arc, I’m not going to miss anything by Fraction/Perry. And, yeah, it’s great, timeless, the entire First War of the Serpent in one issue, plus we see Odin sacrifice his eye for wisdom. This event really has generated the best tie-ins I’ve ever encountered.

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #630—Ha, Siri? This one seems to have a better command of the English language. Great bit about Where Volstagg Was, so much shit was going down, I definitely forgot to wonder. And perfect, “a boar stuffed with pigeons stuffed with jam.” I’m a sucker for UNCANNY #153esque story-time issues** and this is no exception. You’ve got to love that shot of silly Odin shushing the reader with one finger over his mouth. And “Death to Nazis!” Another great little entry in the canon of stories-about-the-greatness-of-stories (colloquially known as the Gaiman Zone), great fun and crushing at the same time.

Have you noticed that Marvel is jamming out everything they can bi-weekly now in a bid to snatch up more market share? This and FF and UNCANNY X-FORCE for a little while there, as well as AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, have all been cranking off the presses just as fast as they can. What woebegone wallets may come!

SPACEMAN #1—Who can turn down a brand new #1 by the entire team of 100 BULLETS for the price of a mere dollar bill? A less discerning consumer than I, Wednesday night faithful! We already got a ten-page slice a few months back on that STRANGE ADVENTURES one-shot and are thrown right into the middle of it, here. It usually bothers me when artists sign pages in-book, but every single time Risso does it, you’re just like, Yeah, you’re the one. Azzarello, as ever, certainly makes you work for it, inventing an entire dialect that feels authentic, futuristic but plausible. Say? Patricia Mulvihill really is one of the best in the business, such a distinctive style. I’m . . . not exactly sure what happened at the end. After multiple passes. Dude’s on Earth doing a scavenging job, takes a drop of some drug, then we cut back to Mars and he stabilizes the greenhouse pressure before the lights start popping, then there’s popping back on Earth and the ship blows up, and then he’s suddenly rescued the Pitt-Jolie kid analogue? Who turns out to be all sinister? I think is what happened? These folks do not make comic books for stupid people.

FLASH #2—Those augmented cognition pages are brilliant. Fine, fine example of stretching the medium, presenting a story as only comics can. The Quitely We3 panels, right on down to the washed-out colors, just spectacular work. Johns/Manapul nailed it so hard out of the gate last year on the new #1, I was bummed that the relaunch pulled the rug out from under them, but Manapul/Buccellato are cruising along faster than ever. Everything I want from a Flash book, right here.

SUPERMAN #2—This is another good-looking issue, Merino again steps up to the plate and executes what’s got to be one of the most frightening gigs in mainstream comics. And I missed Buccellato’s name in the credit box last month, never heard of the guy, suddenly he’s coloring SUPERMAN and FLASH and co-writing the latter. Not bad, fella! This isn’t like the most amazing run of the character that I’ve come across, but it’s rock-solid. Feels kind of like reading a little-known 80s arc, guess that’s when Perez crystallized his writing style. Particularly the way Superman/Lois beat the bad guy, made me feel like a little kid again. In a good way. Totally on board with this arc, but likely bailing when Creative does, sorry Giffen/Jurgens.

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #2—This story still feels a bit slight and quite decompressed***. The combination of Mikel Janin and Ulises Arreola is enough to keep me around for a while, though. For a book with “dark” in the title, these are some lush pages. Wish Milligan would get it moving, though. It might be better if we hadn’t seen the Enchantress go crazy like three times in as many years. Give us something new! You are unshackled from the chains of continuity! Methinks I need to get a bit more serious about tracking down Milligan/Bachalo’s original SHADE run in the bargain bins.

ALL-STAR WESTERN #2—Another excellent slice of comics from these boys, right here. Yeah, if you can only get twenty pages out of Moritat, you probably want to sign up Jordi Bernet for a backup. It really is ingenious for Gray/Palmiotti to embed their guy in Ur-Gotham, steep the Hex fun up in all that dynastic craziness that Snyder and friends just started rolling over in GATES OF GOTHAM a little while back. To the point that it’s like they used math, a super quantum computer to spit out the optimum way to sell a relaunched JONAH HEX to readers without artistically compromising what’s come before. That double-page spread followed by the pin-up of Hex is the business. Just the colors of the sky, alone. Easily one of the coolest books resulting from the relaunch shakeup.

*Except, I guess, for maybe CASANOVA, though that thing is such a terror unto itself, it doesn’t seem right or maybe fair comparing it to anything else, like THE WIRE and all the other TV shows.

**Walter dropping the noir business on FRINGE last season being a recent standout.

***only two pages of Constantine again? Really? Not nearly as offensive until you start counting the ones with Dove on them, I mean, seriously.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


TINY TITANS #45—Batgirls! Just in time for Halloween. So apparent that Baltazar/Franco are of our generation, once again, as clearly they had no idea what the hell Pantha was supposed to be there as the 80s were blooming into the 90s and Batmania ruled the streets. This one seemed a little denser than usual, I kept thinking it was going to be over and it opened up into another scene. As always, highly recommended, particularly if you want to read your daughter a new comic book that includes Starfire.

FEAR ITSELF #7—Seems to me like a reading order should have been published. I wasn’t sure, so just led with this because I didn’t want IRON MAN or something to spoil it for me, but then IM was total anticlimax. But let’s talk about this beast. It was billed as 64 pages of thunder, but in a pretty garbage move, the back 27 of those turn out to be four “epilogues” that are nothing more than previews of the first issues of new series that quite loosely spin out of this latest event. Which was kind of fucked, I kept reading thinking, Wait, is THIS one gonna be, no no, that’s just Aaron Hulk, well cool, is THIS gonna be, then especially the last one, I mean it was totally Fraction, but got me again, just another preview to DEFENDERS, which I was already sold on from the announcement. So, I came out the end of this comic even a bit more jaded than if it had just ended with the last page of the story that it set out to tell. What did I think about the conclusion to FEAR ITSELF? I think the art was fandamntastic. I mean, gorgeous top to bottom, everything you could hope for from Laura Martin on an event book and Immonen/Von Grawbadger raised their game to another level. To think how I was championing these folks on that Little New Avengers Book That Could not two years ago. Looked great. Storywise, I respect how Fraction dug deep and tried to come up with a threat on a scale greater than Bendis and Millar events of the past decade, but I really believed that he was going to swerve at the end and give us something different than the death that’s been, not telegraphed, but explicitly prophesied since the beginning. I mean, at this point, how hard is that supposed to hit us? We know he’ll just be back when the sequel to his movie hits. And, what’s that? Phoenix is rising again, you say? Maybe I’m just at that inevitable point that Corporate Comics are starting to get to me. I’ll always have Hickman FF. Yes? Always? Twice a month? With a spinoff, couldja do?

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #509—So, yeah. I even checked all the FI first pages to see if there were instructions provided, but reading this right after the monster was all kinds of anticlimax, though I have to say that the premise of Tony rolling with Splitlip in the aftermath and teaching him about sobriety sounds like a pretty cool dynamic. Fraction just keeps recovering all over this place, man, I tell you what, Banner or Strange is going to be hitting the sauce pretty good by #12 of DEFENDERS, just see if it doesn’t happen.

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #629—And then this beautiful thing fell out of the pile. Portacio’s art worked much better for me on this one, though it was of course a taunt to get three last pages of Braithwaite/Arreola. Gillen’s work here is Strong. Really makes a glorious actual epilogue for the main title. Folks who did not check this out got short shrift. Interested to see where this title’s headed. If anywhere, it would be something just to drop the curtain, too. But if Gillen’s back for more tales of Kid Loki, sign me up. Much much better than it had any right to be.

AVENGERS #18—Bendis gets a lot of mileage out of a pretty simple idea. Excellent, believable everyman dialogue throughout. I do wish he had reached all the way back to the wreckage of the mansion, the very first arc of the Bendis Age, that would have closed up the circle just real nicely, there, but I guess he only had twenty pages to earn my four dollahs! Good-looking work from Acuña, he’s really come a long way. Just had no idea who was going to be on the last page, there, though. Really.

UNCANNY X-MEN #544—They really have a lot of nerve putting THE FINAL ISSUE all big on the cover there when a new #1 is hitting in like three weeks. At this point in my Merry Marvel Wednesday night experience, I was feeling quite cynical about the old cyclical. But Gillen had just crushed it a minute ago and I’ve made no secret of improbably coming around on Land’s work, so I opened my heart. And we get the original first page from Kirby for our THE FINAL ISSUE first page! That is about as promising of a start as we could have been granted, True Believers. And the updated dialogue/status updates are killing. A few great little character bits sprinkled throughout here, by which this sort of endeavor lives or dies. Mostly from Bobby. That snowball made me laugh out loud. I will say, though, real shame they couldn’t just like bring Jim Lee back for that one double-page spread. Or, really, Quesada, some big boy should have handled that. As for the final scene, I can’t really convey how it would have hit me, because the ad of Cyclops and Storm hit me for the third or fourth time of the evening and just made me curse the empty room, Damn, how about a moment of SILENCE, you know? Always peddling the next damn thing.

X-FACTOR #226—Best recap page yet. This book just keeps happening, how many years has it been, now? The very definition of solid work. Digging Kirk on pencils (though, it must be periodically restated, missing him on MI-13). PAD is a long-game beast.

BUTCHER BAKER CANDLESTICKMAKER #4—Goddamn. Ennis. That is fucking brutal and heartbreaking. I mean, man. The combination of this + the end of THE BOYS #59 hemorrhaged a Facebook post out of me at 1-something in the morning, just because I was bleeding, and I bummed out this sweet girl in California I knew in elementary school who had zero Ennis experience and next to no idea what I was talking about. Because it was so sad! Powerful storytelling.

FABLES #110—That is one off-putting motherfucking ad for THE BIG BANG THEORY. I mean, I studied it. I actively hate these people. The actors or the characters, I have no idea. Which is another way of saying, Oh shit, it’s FABLES again and I have no idea what to write about. It’s still wonderful. No sign of quality dipping. It’s kind of starting to freak me out, how long I’m going to be buying this thing. I mean, can Willingham drop a “And some of them lived happily ever after . . .” from his deathbed like five minutes before kicking off? Because that’s kind of how I’m seeing it at this point. Rest in peace, big fella. You earned it.

WONDER WOMAN #2—As turns out to be the trend tonight, all three of the #2s I picked up are improvements on the first issues. And there wasn’t much room for this one. Azzarello drops another razor-sharp script not quite as in love with wordplay as he usually does but just enough to remind us who’s delivering the goods. And Cliff Chiang/Matthew Wilson are blowing the art up. Great to see the man who rescued PHONOGRAM from black & white/David Kohl doing so well for himself. And what an ending. DUN DUN DUNNNNN!

JUSTICE LEAGUE #2—Johns hits his, sorry, stride quite a bit better with this one, bringing everyone into the fold a bit and firing off more zingers than groaners in the dialogue this time out (my favorite being Batman’s superpower: “I can keep us on point.” Damn right you can, young Master Wayne). So, we’re just really going to straight up fight Darkseid for the first arc? What the hell do you have on deck for Round Two? Jim Lee is scary scary good, in top form twenty years after blowing the industry away in the first place. That Wildstorm purchase, that might have turned out to be a pretty good get for ol’ Detective Comics Comics, there.

****BEST OF WEEK: BATMAN #2—And the hits keep on coming. Snyder/Capullo/Glapion show us that the first issue was no fluke but merely harbinger of the greatness to come. Again, everything about this is perfect. I haven’t really gone looking, but I can’t imagine someone claiming to be a Batman fan and not getting their socks knocked off over this. Snyder nails the voice, both of the all-important and post-Miller obligatory Bruce Wayne narrative captions, as well as dialogue between characters, Bruce/Dick and Batman/Gordon being the standout examples. And Capullo/Glapion can’t stop turning in beautiful pages, hyperdetailed cityscape shots, dynamic action scenes, excellent acting from the characters. This one really worked for me on every level. Again.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


S.H.I.E.L.D. vol. 2 #3—BEST OF WEEK, no problem. Hickman hits the bench and Weaver/Oback open up nothing less than a six-pack of whupass on the unsuspecting reader. Eighteen pages* of no-dialogue gotime Star Child absolutely amok in the Immortal City beneath Rome with all hands on deck to try to stop him. This includes chrononaut Leonardo da Vinci, SuperMichelangelo, Nostradumus, Electro-Tesla, Tesla’s kid, Howard Stark, and Nathaniel Richards. This book is better than anything has a right to be and not only my favorite thing that Marvel publishes but, with the exception of the title immediately following, for my money the best thing they’ve put out since the halcyon days of Miller DAREDEVIL, Simonson THOR, Byrne FF. Really, really, really good.

FF #10—Kitson is A-list. Reading this, it makes you wonder if he’s on deck for some huge thing. You think he’d have to be. Though we would certainly love to have him aboard here as regular fill-in artist for as long as he cares to stay. Hickman decides not to go all L O S T with last issue’s potentially monumental cliffhanger and instead just shows us what happened next. Huh. I’m so used to disjunctive non-linear storytelling that it was almost jarring. Wait, that’s when/where each one of them just straight up went? Where’s the fun in THAT? As spectacular as the art is, this one’s pretty much a moving-pieces-around-on-the-board sort of issue, still highly entertaining, but in no way stepping to the nonsense that just went down in the Immortal City.

X-MEN: REGENESIS #1—Gillen's work here is crisp, not quite as sharp as it has been in recent works on the flagship, but solid enough. I did find that cavemen fighting by the campfire thing a bit strained and kind of a waste of space. Though I guess Marvel could have cut all of that, only dropped 20 pgs, and still charged $3.99, so I should just be grateful. Tan is hit and miss with me. He seems capable of good-looking work when he puts the time in. The original X-23 mini was gorgeous. He did not put the time in on these pages. After the five great artists in SCHISM, it would have been nice to have the follow-up epilogue not drop the ball. Not a terrible comic, but it could have been much better.

GENERATION HOPE #12—Mm, the cover’s a bit disingenuous. Sorry to see Gillen bail out of this title, as he’s probably taking me with him, but he works in some nice character work on his way out the door and a last scene, last page really, that completely flattened me. Way to drop the mic, Gillen out!


NEW AVENGERS #17—Bendis really has it down at this point. It’s not like the weightiest entertainment, but if you want to see your Marvel superheroes taking down a giant robot while rat-a-tat-tating dialogue back and forth, it really isn’t going to get any better than this. Deodato continues to make it happen.

MORNING GLORIES #13—Was this a season finale? It sure seemed like one, as the business went down and one of the kids makes it off the island in a fashion that will not disturb the crowd of folks reading this who are still pining for Evangeline Lilly**. But yeah, the events are moving faster than the characters can keep up with them, and there’s no telling where or when we’ll wind up next. Safest guess I can make is that safari guidance counselor had better start reading pilot scripts for next year, she do not seem long for any of this right here.

THE UNWRITTEN #30—And that is how you end an arc. This is going to #50, maybe? These longer Vertigo series that have the chance to run their natural course are almost my favorite thing, just because you still get that serial sequential thrill but, if everyone’s doing their job right, it never thins out and then you get finale closure. Lump THE BOYS in there, too, it might should go without saying. And I guess The Monster, or here, Creature, has just joined the cast? That’s fantastic. Guy’s popping up all over the place.

AMERICAN VAMPIRE: SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST #5—Another strong finish. Completely different from a trade read, because you won’t be going from nothing to just laying all the way down on the accelerator from the first page this time out. Murphy and Stewart are of course without peer and, with only 13 issues under their collective belt, one of my very favorite art teams in all of comics, but it’s so wonderful to have them working with writers who are also delivering such strong work. This was a hell of a ride.

FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E #2—This one’s just great fun. Lemire and crew do a good job staying out of the way and letting the concept of supersecret agent Frankenstein’s Monster sell itself (just Frankenstein here, but same difference). Of course there’s an ant farm within the ant farm. Fantastic. How did child sacrifices get to be the thing? Who floated that one, and what other options were tried first? Lots of fun, though I gobbled through this thing in under five minutes on the first time, 20 pages starting to feel a bit slight with this one.

DEMON KNIGHTS #2—All right, I’ve made no bones about my assessment of Tony Daniel’s writing abilities, but that right thur is a pretty cover. And old Diogenes Neves does fine work inside. I love that people are still naming their kids Diogenes. Or that one set of parents is, anyway. This is all interesting enough, but I’m not sure it’s engaging enough to keep me on the hook for the long haul. The double-edged sword about this relaunch is that they’re also rebooting our investment. I have no problem just completely bailing out of a series that seemed like it had a good enough hook only last month. We’ll see how #3 goes.

GREEN LANTERN #2—This is such a great idea, Hal and Sinestro buddy-copping around. Mahnke is a machine. Already enjoying this more than the majority of the previous volume.

BATWOMAN #2—More gorgeous work from Williams. When is Amy Reeder Hadley going to start subbing in? Williams is setting the bar pretty damn high, these pages are not to be believed. Just the x-ray punches alone in the first scene. Also, funny to see him drawing himself and Desolation Jones and probably other folks I don’t recognize into the crowd scene at the bar. Only misstep in this one is the last panel. She just, what falls down? That’s not really imbuing our heroine with a lot of prowess.

BATMAN & ROBIN #2—This one is a bit more of a simmer than the tour de force that we got last month, but it’s almost more effective, a well crafted tale of Bruce Wayne suddenly on damage control for his assassin-trained son. The cover really says it all, just hilarious. Less so, Damian killing the bat, that was a pretty screwed up moment, right there. Am a big fan of what Tomasi and company are doing, here.

*well, all right, page 15 has an exchange of word balloons between Michelangelo and the Star Child, but they’re straight up speaking algebra, so call the first 18 pages English-free, at any rate.

**It does seem, all these years later, that Matthew Sweet was prescient.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


ACTION COMICS #2—Mm, dirty pool charging four books for a twenty-page story followed by eight pages of Morrison and Morales being impressed with one another. This is an intriguing beginning but it’s certainly not murdering me in my heart like I was expecting. That last page will hopefully lead toward greater shenanigans, and it certainly won’t be a bad thing to have Gene Ha showing up for Krypton sequences. Also, just heard that Kubert’s coming on board for #s 5 and 6, very good news. Ready for Morrison to start blowing me away, though.

O.M.A.C. #2—So Kirbytastic. Really. I can’t believe the level that Giffen is performing at. Dude is ripping up the pages. Also, I loved the footnote telling us that the protagonist had called his girl in between issues. Too funny. I do have to call Didio out for flagrant misusage of “y’all,” though at least he got the apostrophe right, which you can’t say about even most folks in Texas. But the term should never be applied to a singular person, it’s always collective. Regional slang aside, I really enjoyed this issue and can’t believe it’s the lowest selling of the entire line. Bow down before the King, True Believers!

ANIMAL MAN #2—Lemire/Foreman continue with another installment that’s even creepier than the first issue while delving a bit into the Animal Man mythos. It’s really bizarre to me that DC made such a deal of incorporating this book into the main universe and then these guys show up with like the most Vertigo book since Dream was trying to decide between Change or Die and Jesse Custer got a mad-on for the Almighty. I mean, I picked this thing up and it said, Fookin’ ell. I would have thought that Foreman’s art style might alienate some readers, but folks seem to be pretty much into it. This remains one of the relaunch’s better offerings.

SWAMP THING #2—Paquette is dropping some business, here. He’s always been the man, but if you go back and look at that first BATMAN INC. arc all the way up to these pages, what a serious run in such a short time. And getting a little more adventurous with the layouts, kind of a creeping effect from Williams over on BATWOMAN. Snyder’s job here is pretty thankless and he does fine with it, though the last page was pretty telegraphed. Still on board with this one. Seems like I heard maybe Francavilla was no longer subbing in on arcs?

STORMWATCH #2—The banter between Apollo and Midnighter really does nothing more than reinforce for me how this is Ellis-lite. But the bit about Harry versus the Moon is pretty serious and makes up for it quite a bit. Interested to see what Cornell’s got in the hopper for this one. But really wish Ellis would either take some drugs and wade in to slay this last dragon before forever retiring from superhero comics or that the next crackling mad bastard I’ve never heard of would just get thrown in the deep end, here.

THE BOYS #59—Brutal. That last scene is haunting, going to stay with me longer than most of the horrah that this series has already brought us. Butcher is untethered, off the chain, and we are two arcs to go. It’s going to be quite a year. I can’t believe I didn’t read PREACHER monthly, this is too much fun.

X-MEN: SCHISM #5—And so it all came to that. Fantastic characterization and dialogue throughout, but the resolution doesn’t wash. They just, what, ganged up and beat the unstoppable suitcase Sentinel off-panel? That’s a pretty non-schismatic anti-climax. Still on-board with the X-relaunch, but enthusiasm more than a bit quashed.

CASANOVA: AVARITIA #2—This book is, yeah, still a psychotic fucking maniac. But, a hypergenius as well. So so much to parse in this thing, I've read it like five times and feel like I'm just barely scratching the surface. I mean, the cover really says it all, completely conveys the wild-eyed madness glory, and then is just a total lie and doesn't even happen on the interior. The retasking of Cass's mission in between issues is interesting, the effect it has on him. You would think that it would be better to only have to kill one guy over and over instead of snuffing out entire timelines, but I guess it's just the look in his eye? Is the Luther at the con supposed to be Fraction? It seems like a pretty clear analogue. Or maybe Ba just dressed him up as Fraction to be cheeky. And you’ve got to love the <> dialogue in 9.924. This thing is so much too clever for its own good, anyone who doesn't find it brilliant just isn't applying themselves. Only two issues of this arc to go? This 32 pages at a time gig is messing me up pretty good. Casanova Quinn is the reason why. And when.

BEST OF WEEK: HOUSE OF MYSTERY #42—Now the best part might have been that even though I do too well of a job keeping up with the tiniest fragments of news as they burst out over the Internet, I had no idea that this was the final issue. I mean, wait well, that’s not quite it, obviously Sturges has been turning out the lights for the past few months here, and maybe earlier some time I was hoping that this would be the last issue just because of numbers, and you know, Willingham’s name on the cover should really have been more of a clue, but it wasn’t until I hit that last panel that it seriously dawned on me that I was reading the very last issue of this consistently rewarding and exceptionally crafted monthly comic book. Really, it’s testament to how much ridiculous goodness is erupting throughout the industry that this title wasn’t championed by far more, heralded to the skies. You know, I dig the hell out of FABLES, but looking back on it now, seems like this one gave me more thrill per month. Which Old Bill can’t feel too bad about because he’s of course a big part of what makes this such a success, not only from a conceptual level, but right here on the bookends, his first and last stories for this series, just such top drawer stuff. STORies, right? The finest kind, that get you all thrilled up because for all the words in your live you jam through, there have to be a few, a series of them every now and again that you run across that just do it for you like few things do. This series was one of those, because you never knew where it was going and almost couldn’t remember where it was coming from because it kept surprising you, molding itself into surprising permutations when you least expected. And you never knew who was going to be drawing these gorgeous pages, but they were guaranteed to melt your face. Jaime came and did it just a couple months after I finally started in on LOCAS, so that hit me harder than most, felt like. So so many great names came through and turned in gorgeous work, really almost no one better than Inaki Miranda and Eva de la Cruz barreling up out of nowhere for the last one, but for all that, it never stopped being Rossi’s house. What a force. And Sturges. Hard not to gush about what he did here. Will just hold it down to I thought “Fig Keele, Teen Detective” in #31 was just an eensy bit better than “The Hollows” in #1, and he might have gotten him again here in the last issue, both of them just crushing work. And it meant so much to me that he really couldn’t stop telling until they pried the computer out of his hands, was still weaving tangential beauties with the last words of his afterword, wait, wait, always just one more thing. Really great series that I’m even more choked about ending than I would have been, because aw, the way it managed to sneak out on me, leave me needing so much more. That last panel, man.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


FF #9—This story just keeps happening. Bentley is emerging from a crowded ensemble as one of my favorite characters, particularly if Hickman continues to play up the dynamic between him and Val. I swear there have to be four or five very addictive premises that could spin off from this thing. As ever, So many great little bits sprinkled throughout. Doom’s response to last month’s cliffhanger, Nathanial Richards in Attilan one thousand years from now, Parker again saying just the wrongest thing possible, The Mole Man’s exit, Black Bolt backing Reed down of course without saying a word, alternate Reed vs. Doom in five panels and what a thread that’s going to spin, and then just out of nowhere that last page. I mean, the possibilities are infinite. Much to imagine in the four weeks between here and the next slice. A couple of other contenders make a run at it, but the left field cliffhanger makes this one easily BEST OF WEEK.

ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES #2—Now that is how you introduce a force to be reckoned with. The capsule origin montage that Hickman drops on the first two pages are easily the most compressed and some of the most entertaining material of the week. It would normally seem implausible for some new guys, even Ultimatized Mike Carey villains to just show up out of nowhere and kill Asgard, but that’s actually totally believable thanks to the weight of this issue’s opening. Otherwise, it’s just a wonderful mad ride. Tonally in line with my fonder recollections of the original Millar/Hitch run without all of that winking at the reader Millar can’t ever seem to keep in check. And such a powerful last image, all the gods falling, Tony zooming in from Tokyo to catch Thor in the nick of time. Really strong.

SECRET AVENGERS #17—Man, you can cut your eyes on this Ellis script. Just razor sharp. Ellis Explodo, thank you for coming back and for all yours shrapnels in my eyes. Though I keep expecting the cast of N.E.X.T.W.A.V.E. to drop in and just say, Seriously?

THE MIGHTY THOR #6—Fine work, Fraction and friends bring this series’ first and possibly only arc starring Thor home to a strong finish. The only thing that threw me off was the three inkers, someone on those last few pages was not as smoking as the others. That last shot of Thor and Sif walking out, Thor looking over his shoulder, it’s like Morales came back just for that panel and one of the other guys was crapping all over the rest of that page and the one before it. In spite of this slight fumble on the one-yard line, Laura Martin continues to earn her spot as one of, if not the, very best she is as what she does. I guess #7 will be out really really soon?

THE NEW AVENGERS #16.1—Great fun to see Adams amok back in the 616, but there was a stylistic clash between his style and our usual Bendis everybody a’talkin panels. Enjoyed him with single characters, though, the standout being that one shot of Ms. Marvel soaring, you could really see the kinetic motion of her flight path. Taking Norman off the bench this soon feels like a real misfire, though, Kelly Sue and Miz Rios just got done with him five minutes ago, and I never wanted to see him again before that little bit of resuscitation. We couldn’t have gone with some other terrible old bad guy or, I don’t know, made one up? Maybe revealed Victoria Hand to be even worse than Norman?

CAPTAIN AMERICA & BUCKY #622—Art was still gorgeous, but this is starting to feel disposable. About to cull the old pull list in light of the DC relaunch and all these damn $4 Marvel singles and not sure this one’s going to make it. It just kind of feels like a garbage move to have invested so much character development in Bucky’s resurrection, having him taken off the board like that, and then expecting us to turn around and invest in his monthly WWII adventures.

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #628—This one really drew the short straw coming out the same day that Fraction and crew got done with the Galactus Seed. Let’s just leave it at that.

KICK-ASS 2 #4—Oh, Millar. Always the deft touch with you.

AMERICAN VAMPIRE #19—Jordi Bernet steps in and gives Albuquerque a much needed breather for this origin arc. Very interesting stuff, it looks like Snyder is really just getting started here. Such a solid book.

ALL-STAR WESTERN #1—Was expecting greatness from this one and not disappointed in the slightest. Of course, Gray/Palmiotti have been knocking it out with Hex for years now, but the new premise behind this relaunch has them smashing it to bits even more so than usual. And this Moritat fellow, just unreal what’s going on with him. Thinking surely he’ll only be on for like an arc, can’t imagine this level of detail sustained, month in, month out. The really interesting thing about this one is how it casts Hex as kind of an ur-Batman, but I can’t decide if that speaks to innate similarities between the two characters or Gotham’s tendency to shape and mold the lives of those who find themselves within her borders. Seamless work by these guys picking up on the dynasties Snyder and company set up over in GATES OF GOTHAM along with the nod. Really top-shelf work, all around. Hope this one finds the attention it deserves this time out.

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #1—This one’s all right, gorgeous art from Mikel Janin and Ulises Arreola (the latter late of JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY, hope her presence on this side of the street doesn’t mean that she and Braithwaite just aren’t coming back), but not a terribly lot happens. Though I guess we do get to see the first few pages of the new Justice League in action, a distinctly odd place to find such a thing. This one’s right on the line for me, will definitely pick up next issue, but am not too flattened.

SUPERMAN #1—With ACTION taking place five years in the past, this is our first chance to be privy to the new status quo, which is I guess about what you’d expect from a 21st century reboot. They dynamite the Daily Planet building on page 2 and go multi-media global, spearheaded by Morgan Edge, who will now be played by Samuel L. Jackson, a strange little swipe there. Just realizing there wasn’t so much as a mention of Luthor. is a pretty solid first outing, Perez does a fine job setting up the new dynamic. And poor Jesus Merino shows up for what’s got to be one of the most intimidating gigs of a lifetime (finishing Perez layouts in a SUPERMAN #1? Come on) and imbues every page with weight and grace. Really digging on these guys. So, of course they’re already gone with #7. The world, the world.

FLASH #1—Manapul crushes it, here. That third page alone is perfection, but taken with the following double-page splash is really quite an eyeful, fantastic kinetic energy so so necessary in order to make a book starring this character succeed. Hope these two guys are in it for the long haul, I’ll stick around as long as they do.

AQUAMAN #1—And Johns is 0 for 2 with me on the relaunch. Reis/Prado/Reis (wife? sister?) crush it on the art, really beautiful work, but the trick of having everyone else make fun of Aquaman to defuse the reader doing same really isn’t working for me. And not nearly enough went on in this issue, it would be one thing if they hadn’t made such a thing ahead of time that they were going to knock out decompression and writing for the trade. I defy you to show me two issues by Geoff Johns that better epitomize both of those trends than this and JUSTICE LEAGUE. Now, you know, they are what they are, but I can’t believe he was making the rounds three months ago going on about the potency of done-in-ones. Not terrible by any means, but already endangered in terms of my pull list.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


TINY TITANS #44—Wonderful trick they pull here, and I feel such like a rube for not getting it as soon as I saw those arms on the cover, but all of Beast Boy’s “________ . . . OF DOOM!” dialogue this past year culminates in the original Doom Patrol showing up as crossing guards, which was played as completely silly and not horrifying and absurd as I might have preferred, but I guess they kept in mind that the nine-year-olds digging on this probably aren’t all huge fans of Morrison’s run. But just when I couldn’t have been digging on the issue any more, there’s a flashback to Beast Boy in his crib with a bunch of stuffed animals, which was really like the greatest thing that could have happened, as far as my little girl was concerned. So, good times, all around. Really hope these guys are in the mood to do this for the rest of their lives.

: BATMAN #1—Crushing. I was expecting greatness but still got completely leveled by what these guys did. This was a perfect issue in every way. As a #1 pilot for new readers. As just the first part of a new Batman arc, establishing the status quo with just the right balance of exposition. The tone of Bruce Wayne’s voice in the captions, that whole GOTHAM IS… bit. The in medias res craziness of shutting down an Arkham breakout in SEVEN PAGES with the unlikeliest help of all (even though I totally fell for it, seemed like nothing more than picking up from where Morrison last left him). And Capullo/Glapion. My God. Such masterful storytelling. This was everything a relaunch issue should be. I liked it better than Morrison on ACTION. Very very well done, all around. Can’t wait for more.

WONDER WOMAN #1—Another pitch-perfect offering. Azzarello continues not to pull any punches in terms of reader accessibility, spells nothing out for you. But hey, we all know Diana, and can certainly deal with getting pitched into basically a horror comic with her. Complete with our own disposable Furies. Cliff Chiang turns in some all-star work, here. A very auspicious debut for our warrior princess.

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #1—Wait, is Glorith the Mysterious Hooded Lady that’s in every other book? That would be a strange play for the Trade Federation, particularly since the kids actually acknowledge FLASHPOINT in this one. Which makes no sense, I get that like Batman and GL aren’t all screwed up, but if a few little things altered Superman’s origin, it seems like that would be a catastrophic rewrite to Legion continuity one thousand years later. Bradbury’s butterfly effect, and all? As is, this might as well be #17 of Levitz’s run. The kids from the academy are even folded in. I don’t know, I think I might want to like Legion more than I have the ability to, or something, the stories are never bad, but they just aren’t locking in with me, seem totally disposable. Probably not sticking with this one, even though Portela handles the ensemble pretty well.

X-MEN: SCHISM #4—Really really good, I continue to be impressed by this mini, and certainly wasn’t expecting a dip with classic tag-team Davis/Farmer taking their shot at art duties. Aaron does a fine job ratcheting everything up without ever leaving the island, and just when it can’t get any more heated, Cyclops has got to go bringing up Jean without even mentioning her by name. Slugfest! And not because of misunderstanding, but because each guy totally wants to kill the other! These fellows are going to have lots of bad blood serving as teammates when this is all said and done.

GENERATION HOPE #11—I wish I’d read this before SCHISM, as it pretty much came across as classic tie-in filler. The kids stand on the beach and have their own micro-debate on whether they should stand or run before deciding to go tell Scott they’re X-Men, which I of course already read. Tim Seeley’s work is inconsistent, some pages are all right, sometimes it looks like the girls are kind of melting. It’s quite strange seeing Val Staples coloring mainstream superheroics, as opposed to CRIMINAL. Not bad, but not terribly consequential.

AVENGERS #17—The Avengers who aren’t doing important things in FEAR ITSELF run into Cage’s crew from their sister book and then Marvel Boy hacks the hell out of everything and saves the day. Excellent last page from Bendis, the sequential equivalent of Steve Rogers dropping the mic. The cover was totes ripoff, though, (!) not only did Hawkeye and Spider-Woman not do it amidst the wreckage of New York burning, they didn’t even kiss or nothing.

UNCANNY X-MEN #543—Nothing can stop Piotr Nikolaievitch. This one’s a bit thin, from the conflict resolution to the last scene. These two from Gillen tonight have not hit me as hard as usual, but it might really be because Aaron is just destroying over there. I guess FEAR ITSELF->SCHISM is the order? Really looking forward to SCHISM #5 in two weeks. Annoying that they are rebooting this with #1. Will it really sell THAT much better than #545? Is it worth it?

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #508—Mm, this one’s another tie-in casualty, not enough happens to justify having picked it up, we just get to the point we left Tony in FI #6, with only a couple of things along the way to make any kind of argument for having picked this up. And a Pepper cliffhanger and Tony Stark turning down his twelfth drink might not be it.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #3—Glad to hear Davis is signing up for this title, knew McNiven wasn’t long for the monthly grind. Considering bailing, though. Have come a long way with Brubaker, but $4 a month for twenty pages is garbage. Kind of thought he’d run out of gas by now, but if he’s got the stamina to keep telling Rogers tales, my wallet might not have the juice to keep up. Particularly with the double-down over on the old numbering with Samnee/Breitweiser. I’m getting kind of down on the $4 Marvel singles, if you can’t tell.

X-FACTOR #225—Nice to have another top-drawer artist on the team, Leonard Kirk does fine work. Strange to give Rictor his powers back in a different series. We’ve kind of been hanging out with him for a few years over in this one. Ho hum, another quality issue of X-FACTOR.

BUTCHER BAKER CANDLESTICKMAKER #3—I was expecting Ennis to dig the hooks in, and he doesn’t disappoint. Excellent, believable characterization all around. Oh, Butcher & Becky, why do you have to be doomed? It’s been a long time coming, but this insight into what makes Butcher tick is doing an excellent job of adding momentum to all the madness already going on over in the main title, heading into the home stretch. And Robertson is killing it, as ever. Not a THE BOYS mini to be skipped.

FABLES #109—It is a pretty dick move putting that ONCE UPON A TIME ad on the back inside cover of this comic book. Got to wonder what Willingham makes of that one. Well, how he articulates it, at least, I’ve got a pretty good idea what he thinks about it. Otherwise, another rock-solid issue of FABLES. All the pieces on the board get pushed a little further down the way after we get Ozma’s prophecy (I think?) repeated for us (from #100, I want to say, that whole thing was pretty crazy).

THE RED WING #3—I’m not always sure what’s going down in this thing, but shit usually seems to be coming apart six ways from Sunday two timestreams over, and it always looks beautiful doing it. I think this is another Invaders/Correctors from a Parallel Universe thing? I really wish I had fleshed out that idea when I had it a few years ago, before Hickman and FRINGE came along and blasted me into the stratosphere. Lots of concept for your four issues, hey.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


FEAR ITSELF #6—Oh, it is all going very badly for the heroes of the Marvel Universe, but they have never looked better while it all falls apart. Sorry to say that this one feels a bit padded for a penultimate issue. The two-pager with Spidey and Aunt May was completely superfluous. I do love Tony’s response to Odin “I rather came having had” because it is absolute drunkspeak that makes no sense whatsoever, no matter how you parse it, and I guess that’s about where old Tone “Planned Relapse” Stark should be at the moment. They sure are ramping it up like Thor’s going to die, but that really feels like a mistake, hope that’s not the case, it’s just happened so many times to so many people, we need to figure out a way to tell compelling and engaging stories that don’t hinge on character death. Jean Grey and Elektra have come back and forth a few times now, diminishing returns. Still hoping for great things from the finale. We will see.

NEW AVENGERS #16—Bendis is still in with both barrels blazing, dropping Matt Murdock into the mix because, why not, I guess it’s been a while. I love the bit, the device where the talking heads are disparaging the next guy or girl on-panel on page 2 and then you get the other side of it on that last page, really such a great trick there, and a fantastic way to pull ol’ Hornhead into the fold. Though I must confess I was really looking for Squirrel Girl to just start beating the hell out of giant Nazi robots with each other, take over two city blocks or something and set up a fortress to defend the Power baby. Hey, she beat Thanos off-panel once!

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #627—Oh, did my nose wrinkle when I saw that the art team was fill-in. Not a propitious way to begin this excellent tangent done-in-one starring Mephisto, who takes credit for the entire Fear Itself event on the very first page. Lots of funny asides in this, Gillen could certainly script the hell out of a Mephisto mini. Painted by John Bolton, let’s say. What could have been this book’s initial misfire only reinforces how rock-solid it is. Quality work.

CRIMINAL: THE LAST OF THE INNOCENT #4—Gah! Brubaker & Phillips keep Dave Stewart on board to deliver the final part of this arc, which might just be my favorite one yet. I don’t know, I keep meaning to go back and read this from the start. Don’t really want to get into the specifics of this issue, but I will say that I enjoyed the way in which Riley addresses each new unraveling of his plot while never breaking character, and the way that Phillips makes that final transitional shift into the style of that last panel is masterful. I always want the CRIMINAL protagonists to pop back into a subsequent arc when we get to the end of their story, SIN CITY-style, and never more so than Riley Richards. Top shelf comic-booking, all around.

THE UNWRITTEN #29—??!? Too freaked out about the last three pages for anything else. That came out of nowhere! What will it mean for the overall narrative?

AMERICAN VAMPIRE: SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST #4—Oh, Nazi vampires, why can’t you always be drawn by Sean Murphy and Dave Stewart? This art team continues to make this spinoff mini unmissable in singles format.

FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E #1—Was expecting great things from Lemire and not disappointed. Great fun to have Ray Palmer involved and that Ant Farm HQ is brilliant. The art by Alberto Ponticelli was a little bit looser and scratchier than I would have preferred, but it suits the tone of the book. What really makes the pages are Jose Villarrubia’s choice of colors, some relatively subdued blues and greens that go a long way to establishing an immersive atmosphere for the book. This one didn’t flatten me like ANIMAL MAN did, but it’s good fun and I look forward to these guys tearing it up on this book.

DEMON KNIGHTS #1—This was quite a bit better than I expected. Had no idea what it was about going in, other than that it starred Etrigan, but if he’s going to be on a team with Madame Xanadu and Vandal Savage in the Dark Ages, that’s a great set-up for stories told in a corner of the DCU that has not been that well explored. If you were on the fence at all while reading through this one, I hope the last page sold you. Cornell strikes again.

GREEN LANTERN #1—This one has got to be by far the most seamless transition between old and new DCU. I mean, there could have been a #68 on the cover and there would have been nary a hiccup, same creative team and everything. What’s changed is that, with the shakeup to the status quo Johns made at the end of last issue, this book is suddenly much more interesting than it’s been in years. I’ve been saying how badly we need an issue of just Hal taking Cowgirl to get drunk at a bar instead of just neverending rainbow cosmic escalation from the end of the SINESTRO CORPS WAR waaaaaaay back in #25, and this proves me right. Without his ring, just blustering and blundering through the wreckage of his life, Hal Jordan is a much more interesting character. And the fact that Sinestro is the one who has ring is no less wonderful. Really, these two plots could carry two series and it is a wonderful thing to have them here in one book. While this first one read a bit fast, seemed just a bit slight, it’s much better than the book has been and, again, I’m interested to see where the crew is taking these jokers. I hope Hal doesn’t get back his ring at the end of this arc, though I don’t suppose that’s too likely. How great would it be to have Johns writing Sinestro as the token pink-skinned alien with Lee in JL?

BATWOMAN #1—Is there anybody better at page composition than J.H. Williams III? Now or ever? I mean, I guess Steranko is the acknowledged Lord & Master? With Williams co-writing and providing the pencils and inks under Dave Stewart’s colors* and Todd Klein’s letters, this one is A-list all the way, and does a fine job of dropping us into Kate Kane’s life, even if you haven’t pored over and over and over the seven issues of DETECTIVE that Williams and Rucka tried to kill us with a couple of years ago. The only place where this issue falls the least bit short is that we get a lot of setup and no payoff. Just a page or two of dialogue with Batman would have gone a long way toward alleviating that. Of course, you can probably say that about most problems.


BEST OF WEEK**: BATMAN AND ROBIN #1—This one blew me away. I was never really a fan of these guys’ GREEN LANTERN CORPS but found their short arc on the previous volume of this series very strong. Still, this one had the unenviable task of delivering us the first appearance of Damian Wayne in action with his father, as opposed to Dick Grayson, with whom he’s built 2+ years of chemistry that appealed to pretty much everyone I’ve talked to and went a long way toward rehabilitating Damian’s character in the eyes of many, if not all. And we’ve still got no explanation for Dick being out of the suit, which, if we’re going to hang around and let Morrison tell the tale, keep his BATMAN (INC/LEVIATHAN) run as a holdover of the old DCU through next year, well, fine with me. All that this issue has to do is set up the new dynamic between this duo and it succeeds on every level. SO many great little bits in here, Bruce’s decision to celebrate his parents’ anniversary instead of marking their murder, the way that he approaches Damian to begin the adventure (really, the gutter-jump in action between the panel of Damian sleeping and the next one of him blocking his father’s strike, “I’m up,” is one of my favorite in recent memory), the Batpoles, Alfred taking exception, the DUNE callout in Damian’s “Sometimes I think your secrets have secrets,” Bruce sailing the darkness away in his boat and the preceding exchange between father and son, Bruce setting up a batarang handhold for Damian, Damian STILL not following orders, this was pretty much a perfect pilot to the new status quo and my favorite DC #1 of the first two weeks, hands down, no problem. Really really really good.

*Today’s Dave Stewart hat trick is much appreciated, cheers, Editors

**Okay, except I just found out that Adrian Tomine released OPTIC NERVE #12 after all these years, so there’s some chance that even this monster will fall. Pending!