Thursday, February 24, 2011


All right, Marvel shows up with seven damn $4 books that I have to buy and two other pulls that I dropped just because obviously the only thing worse than seven $4 books is nine. Would have given Spencah/Kitson’s Rhodey book a shot and they, um, pulled ASTONISHING X-MEN for me. Daniel Way and Jason Pearson. That is how you follow up Ellis/Jimenez, folks. Perfect. Way to keep it A-game. I forgot to tell the guys behind the counter to take it off my list, was just so stunned by that selection. Let’s see what we get for our money with $28 worth of the best the House of Ideas has to offer this week, just a disproportionate amount of heavy hitters.

FANTASTIC FOUR #588—A stunner. What if they really didn’t come back in a year with #600 but this Future Foundation thing really stuck? It’s all leaving me pretty breathless with wonder, just everything you always ever wanted from this book. Sole gripe is how much cooler it would have been if they had buttoned up the press on the solicitations and kept it just FF #1 until now or something, and everyone, for the first time tonight or this morning or I guess the retailers who cared yesterday, but if the whole Future Foundation and Parker insertion was a total surprise on the last pages of this issue and nobody had had any idea it was coming, would have unquestionably made a great thing greater. Too, was definitely giving Nick Dragotta's name all the appropriate WTF? static, seems like you'd want to really get an A-list guy for this, Alan Davis, say. I only remember Dragotta as maybe filling in for Jock on a couple of issues of THE LOSERS, maybe? Seemed like an odd play, but the pages looked great. And of course Mark Brooks knocked that 8-pager out of the park. Cool touch to jump back to that conversation, I was definitely sorry to move on in the main story. And, oh, didn't even talk about the no-dialogue. Brilliant, so effective. Killer Thing/Hulk/Thor brawl, can't remember enjoying one more. How can these 30 pages be anything less than BEST OF WEEK?

AVENGERS #10—Yipe! This thing is not one but two 22-page stories and neither one of them has a single ad on all 44 pages. Not to be believed. Everyone does a great job, I just, I can’t say anything else about it right now. 44 pages.

SECRET AVENGERS #10—It is tonight for you, SECRET AVENGERS. You are going to have to be one charming motherfucking pig or drop some serious backmatter. Let’s see how you do.

Pretty excellent work. Strong finish to the arc. Deodato’s best issue to date. Don’t know what to do with this one, feels like I’m only punishing myself if I stop picking it up, but throwing down $4 a month for 22 pages plus ads is something I can just barely abide doing in theory or execution. And it’s tearing me apart!

Maybe, maybe if there aren’t six other Marvel books I want to get in four weeks, I’ll have to give the next arc a shot to destroy me again. But won’t all these books, yes, come out again in four weeks?

CAPTAIN AMERICA #615—Perfect. Even, including, and especially when Steve tells Bucky he’s not even supposed to BE here. Most surreal. Dante Hicks channeling. Ever.

Fantastic last page juke! Brubaker! My man showed up tonight.

McKeever and crew turn in a solid 8-page teaser for the Nomad girl until she gets the kiss of death footer, her adventures continue this month in the pages of ONSLAUGHT UNLEASHED #1. Good night, dear girl. Let’s get Brubaker in this spot with anyone else he wants, please.

THOR #620—Stunning. Was expecting this arc to wrap up until the last page, it was certainly exploding all around like you want your part 6 finale to do. I really really love this one until the end of time, $4 or whatever for however many pages it dwindles to, I don’t care. If Fraction maintains pace, this is the one that will maybe most likely be remembered as his best long arc, excluding - always, as we must - CASANOVA from such reckonings.

IRON MAN #501—Was there ever a better reason to get up and get yourself another Lone Star and/or glass of wine just because you can than this book? In your faces, Stark and Fraction. I apologize, that’s terrible. All right.

Three months running, just destroying what has come before. This and THOR, tonight, Fraction’s writing is all those picoscopic sunbursts that Superman could see beneath his skin when Leo was giving him the diagnosis in ALL-STAR #1.

UNCANNY X-MEN #533—That Kitty Pryde Scott Pilgrim status thing, man, God, turn off the lights, shut it down. That’s the best. Gillen is certainly huffing the spark of life into this gorgeous old beast. Land kind of juked me on those last couple of pages, but not until then.

MORNING GLORIES #7—It looks like this is an entire arc of solo spotlights? Really going to have to go back through this whole run in a couple of months, I suspect it's going to make much more sense in one go of it.

NEW YORK FIVE #2—These guys, together. It is the poetry.

ACTION COMICS #898—Luthor and Larfleeze have their big reunion and we get reminded for the hundred thousandth time what a heartless bastard the former is before he straps in with his girlfriend android Lois Lane to rocket off into orbit for next month's finale. If that doesn't sound like the greatest thing to you, maybe go find one of them book books to read. Too, there's a twist at the end that I'm kicking myself for not seeing coming a mile away, because it's so perfect and logical and the only way to ratchet up the stakes from here. I guess I haven't heard, but I really hope this team's staying on after this and, hey, maybe even gets to write about Superman doing something other than walking around, because they have really worked magic with this title.

AMERICAN VAMPIRE #12—Daniel Zezelj shows up to draw a story in which Skinner Sweet is actually the protagonist. The guy's style really fits the story, always reminds me of that bizarre LOVELESS book Azzarello did a few years ago, a good fit, here. Though I really can't wait for Albuquerque to make it on back. Can't believe this title's already got its first year in the can, time is just racing on by, now.

DETECTIVE COMICS #874—The Part 3 on this one really threw me until I realized that of course this was a continuation of the Gordon backup that I guess got bumped last month so that we could hold the line. But then it cuts to Dick and Tim to start a new arc? That Jock will pick up with next issue? I hope so, though old Francesco Francavilla does fine work throughout, really like four gorgeous splashes in a row to make up for all that Gordon talky talk. This issue maybe dips just a little bit from the excellence of the past three, but it's solid entertainment for your three one-dollar bills.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


SHIELD #6—That was insane, totally batshit, and easily the greatest short run I’ve read from the House of Ideas in at least a few years, now. Dense, fine work. Triumph on every level. The best snapshot microcosm of how perfect this was for me, when Howard Stark is about to hit the switch and says the phrase, “TESLA WILL POWER NATHANIEL” and just that, I had to look away and be like, That right there is at least a contender for coolest string of four words ever, and then when I finally dialed back in, good old Tony’s dad finishes up with, “ENHANCING HIS ABILITY TO MOVE THROUGH TIME.” It really threw me when the dads didn't drop back in to the climax in '60. When did they go next?

And a crushing last page, both on the identity reveal and then just the simple stamp END OF VOLUME ONE. I just assumed this was it and was already bummed. The fact that we’re just opening the door with this, will surely eventually swing it into Hickman FF . . . I tell you, with Bendis, Fraction, and Brubaker up top, then Hickman, Aaron, Remender and Gillen as basically the new class, Marvel’s writing bench is pretty deep. Ha, not even counting crazy fucking Millar, Puck prancing around the edges and close to outselling all those other dudes combined, I bet. Maybe even the richest twat in Scotland by now. He seems to be enjoying himself, you’ve got to wish him well. This book, though, no problem taking BEST OF WEEK out of the gate.

THE BOYS #51—Pretty crushing dosage of Ennis. The art looked scraggly for a few pages and all of a sudden I was wondering if I’ve just shifted over to Braun’s aesthetic so smoothly without even realizing or if it wasn’t a shifted Robertson but a Braun under the deadline gun, I was just, yeah, playing Guess the Artist too much, maybe. But thunder at the end, of course, makes me want to go back and reread the whole arc.

Oh, I did jam through SHIELD #1-5 earlier, right before jumping in here, I maybe should have said.

FABLES #102—There will certainly be some who disagree, but I assert that injecting superhero DNA into this title is not some abomination violation of the sacrosanct but maybe the most effective hybrid yet, hi-toned sumbitch. I mean, really. I can’t believe how good this single issue was, satisfying in and of itself, setting up so much. It’s backlash backlash, everyone’s always falling all over themselves about this book, I mean just the one round I sat through at the ’07 Eisners was an embarrassment, but then you read this and want to scream louder than them, You’re right, you’re right . . !

BRIGHTEST DAY #20—Fucking great@! This was better than most issues of 52. And nobody enjoyed that ride more than me. What will happen to Reis after this? Will he dethrone Mahnke? Or just spell him? That one last panel on the page of Aquaman engaging the telepathy, I bet no one will ever do a better job of channeling latent Superfriends memories from me. But, who knows? Life is long.

GREEN LANTERN #62—I didn’t realize it was time to hit the gas. The Bruce/Hal exchange was pitch-perfect.

LEGION #10—One of my favorite Braniac pages ever, this run keeps increasing in density.

GENERATION HOPE #4—Weird Espin synchronicity today, read Parker’s EXILES #2 and 3 by him and then also a random issue of WOLVERINE: FIRST CLASS, which was top notch, and didn't realize on either one that this is the same dude I've been spending the last three months with over here. When it’s just Gillen writing this and UNCANNY here in a minute, that’s going to be a pretty fearsome thing.

ASTONISHING X-MEN: XENOGENESIS #5—Fucking brutal! I was already sad at the end of this, Ellis just does such a fine job capturing these characters, making them sing. I suspect he was glad to be shed of the commitment, but his contributions to the X-mythos have been solid corporate work these past three and a half, and I am sorry to see him go. Strong strong finish.

And now a new episode of SYM-BIONIC TITAN, life is so damn sweet, yes.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


CASANOVA #6—Or we’re just calling it GULA II? It’s 10 and 11, I think? I was all tweaked out, because I was positive Zephyr GoTime was 11, but obviously I got it wrong and it’s next month. No matter, this arc is reading even more insane in this format. That backmatter talk was kind of a bummer, but still good reading, a solid Earth-101 (or whatever the Marvel equivalent is to Earth-Prime) version of Jay & Silent Bob. Fraction & Dharb are definitely holding their own in the pathos evocation department. Took me over half an hour to read this fucker, just a hyperdense return on your money. I really love this comic too much. Really on the strength of it alone, but the other runs of course aren’t hurting, Fraction is making a hard charge at Ellis’s slot as my #3 Guy. Which shouldn’t even be possible*, but I’m just saying whereas I’m just floored and redlined by the overall effect of the craft the first time through with Morrison or Moore, I lock up with the beats of this CASANOVA engine every time to the extent that it’s like I made it last night when I was too bombed to remember, just in a perfect place and then came back across it this morning like, Yup, I did that. Casanova Fraction and I are blackout brothers. I think I’m trying to say? From electromagnetic ideaspace?

OSBORN #3—Who can resist leading off with the Fractions like this? Actually, shit, without even trying to, we’ve got a Portland round robin set queued to open things up. And right off, we get Muffoletto on the first page, which wouldn’t be so weird if the Mister hadn’t named his Secret Cinema director Toppogrosso how ever many years ago it was. Strange effect, tonight. Oh, but then she gets Y’all wrong, still on the first panel. Damn it, Kelly Sue. I should probably stop writing about this thing and read it.

Yeah, and then those sixteen panels on the leader of the pride are just thunder, on their own, without any kind of context. Fantastic. In what totally could have been a throwaway latest-big-event-epilogue-bullshit-whatever, you find two pages that you can put in somebody’s face to answer the question, Why Comics? Because this, suckah! It has nothing to do with Peter Parker or Norman Osborn and it doesn’t matter, because it’s true! And is that a “Help!”/””Hup!” Alan Moore cut across the staple fold? The balloon’s placement that far right makes it just the right percentage of ambiguous, but I sure hope it’s intentional. Brilliant! We might only have time for the Oregon kids tonight, folks, the way it’s looking. But my, how batshit this goes at the end. And it’s like Emma Rios snorted some uncut BaMoon, so much messier than #1. In a good way. We need to move on now.

NEW AVENGERS #9—So I didn’t even suss to it last time. Stuart & Laura are just gone now, aren’t they? Until the Big Event is over? Well you know what, FEAR ITSELF the core title is going to be the finest offering Marvel has ever made in that department, I’m just saying it right now. Fraction and the folks who did this title’s first arc? I know nothing about it except that they and something called fear will be involved and I am telling you, it is on.


Fucking. Insane. Opening sequence.

All out of breath now, and just the recap page. Out of control.

And then, man, damn. This one’s even better than 7 and 8. Which, again, I said flattened everything else. AND THOSE LAST TWO PAGES!!!! Bendis!

INCOGNITO 2 #3—Quite possible that I feel this way because it’s just been too long, shame, lads! Always! But this feels like close the best Brubaker/Phillips joint it’s ever been my pleasure to smoke.

Plus, just the audacity. The Lone Ranger, Shadow, and Three Little Pigs?

(and I will cop to some partial conflation confusion, Zack in bed with Zoe Zeppelin is all SLEEPER Holden, all of a sudden)

And stab my eyes, because I just closed the pages on a Jess Nevins essay about Captain Future. Too much to read tonight! Press on! We must escape the Oregon coast! Later for you, Professor Nevins!

X-FACTOR #215—Peter David is all kinds of subtle with the Vampires are Everywhere trope. But yeah, obviously, the romance of Madrox and Layla is what we care about most. That bit with the cop and free will, so well written, PAD. So well written. Again, the bar for this title keeps rising. All you can hope for.

JOHN BYRNE’S NEXT MEN #3—What a glorious kind of mad. More entertaining than a Shamus interview, and certainly with superior sequential storytelling. My guess on the mystery time traveler ID is Jasmine, just for old time’s sake/intuition?

UNWRITTEN #22—Another crushing blast, dodge, and I can’t help but think of the Gilliam flick. That last shot of Pinocchio, of course there can be all these different versions, but the fanboy in me immediately wants the team-up misunderstood fight.

FLASH #9—Man, when she tells him,” Just some here, just for a minute,” and then he hangs up, it just pulls your guts out.

Another great entry in the Johns/Manipul canon. Though finishing the lead story and finding the remainder pages dedicated to previewing the pages I already bought and am about to read is more belittling than validating, seems.

BATMAN & ROBIN #20—Fantastic effort, issue. Can’t believe, again, how good this is without Morrison. Real dick move on that ad mirroring the last page. Oh, wow, somebody used homage to try and bump up another 10,000 copies. Huge fan of Tomasi/Gleason on this. Great great work. That opening scene just rang so true, certainly definitely and truly happened, it was just waiting for one of the writers to happen upon it.

ADVENTURE COMICS #523—Levitz goes the New Mutants/Avengers, um, Academy route and hits the jackpot by landing Phil Jimenez to draw the thing. Unbelievable work. Was just in New Orleans for a con and could never get through the ten people that guy always had gathered round watching him work his magic. Is Page 4 an homage to the cover of Marvel's EXILES #1?Between the blocking and Glorith's resemblance to Blink, it kind of looks that way. They're just getting started here, folks, as Levitz closes the book on his first year back in the trenches.


BEST OF WEEK: Man, I think four-year old recolored, Dharb hand-lettered BaMoon goodness Fraction insanity still has the sauce to put down everything else that came out today. Though, I don't know, Chaykin on those Fury sequences certainly gives the boys a run for their money. Close call.

*and, let’s be honest, Gaiman is always welcome to just sashay back in and snag whenever he deigns, but you know, pecked to death by angry ducks and all that.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


SUPERBOY #4—I am in love with this book. Even with the pencils loosening up, it’s maybe even a good thing, a-watching-a-young-master-to-be-hone-his-craft-early-on thing, but that’s just one piece, you’ve got the rock-solid set-up from Johns, high school Smallville adventures done right with the notable and perfect addition of Simon and then you’ve got Grant’s palette just screaming ALL-STAR SUPERBOY at you, because really, written this well, how can it not? As much as I have loved everything Bendis has done since the AVENGERS reboot, taking careful note of the flow and momentum of how each initial arc has unfolded, and let’s not forget to count PRIME here, which I almost have to give the gold medal to, as much as I adore the arc of adjectiveless and Stuart & Laura on NEW. As. Much. As I think Bendis has been kicking ass on these individual titles, even if you stack them all up. These guys are on pace to leave all that shit in the dust, just now. Particularly with that last page, the title of next issue. Sleeper hit of the millennium, folks. Lemire is such a talent.

BRIGHTEST DAY #19—We hit the acceleration pedal on this one, just a hard almost out of nowhere infodump in the first three pages giving us a pretty plausible reason for this entire fracas, then it’s over to Aquawar! which turns out to be such total go for broke beachstormin’ fun that the pages actually manage to trump the name. This one might have the most Reis pages to date. Prado also killing it. Fine work. Oh, but that last bit, so so gorgeous. Almost didn’t get myself under control from all the too loud funny about to spill out from me this late. Brightest Day. Fucking hilarious title, man.

LEGION ANNUAL #1—Of course timeless to have these guys together again. Giffen manages to evoke both CREEPY/EERIE-era and the latest permutation of JRjr, always in service of his vision of Levitz’s script. Easily the most historic release of the week. I hope Levitz wrote that dictionary, the THE GREAT DARKNESS SAGA entry is priceless.

WEIRD WORLDS #2—It is all right not be holding the line at $2.99 if you have three 10-pagers in a rocking anthology such as this. All three artists are delivering somewhere right around career best (I mean, with Ordway and Maguire, at least, everyone’s always going to have a valid argument with like five or ten performances), and the writing remains pretty sharp throughout. It’s a gripping LOBO story, for God’s sakes. Kevin Maguire told me this weekend that he’ll draw this Tanga girl for the remainder of his career if DC will bankroll him. Fingers crossed, my man! Dude wrote “ONE PUNCH!” on the cover of my JLI #5 (just JL then, two issues before the I, but JL #5 looks not right, you need that last initial to get there right away to Guy Gardner’s indignant face), good man. I wish this mini would do well enough that they start an ongoing with rotating stories of varying lengths, so that you never know exactly what you’re going to be getting until you actually read the thing. That would be the bee’s knees. Why don’t anthologies sell anymore?

HOUSE OF MYSTERY #34—What incredible words at the top. Sturges started this series out with a confidence in tone and voice that belied his years, and he has shot way up in the past three years. This one’s roaring along at a pretty high level. Rossi is a master. Can’t believe how much I dug the non-Sturges tale of Bloodsucker, too. Immersive dialogue. Vertigo roars on.


BEST OF WEEK:THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #500.1—Strange that what must surely be a corporate mandate triggers Fraction’s most beautiful writing on the title to date (excepting that thing a couple weeks ago that no one will ever top) totally embracing the premise of making this the ultimate New Readers Jump-On issue to do a recap of the last five decades’ worth of IRON MAN comics while somehow simultaneously giving us what feels like Fraction’s most personal tale yet by framing it in an AA meeting, zooming us all the way into Tony’s head and letting us look right out of his own eyes at all of the coffee drinkers. Just a hell of a done-in-one. Particularly when you think about #500 dropping a couple of weeks ago. This one, again, raises the bar and jacks up anticipation for the future, the noblest goal to which this title aspires. Killer ending, you’ve got to love the way Tony lands on his feet, just trading one rush for another. The Coming Attractions scenes fell a bit flat for me, but maybe it’s just because Johns has locked my head into his idea of what they should be. But I think he’s right, people! If all the other .1s are half as good as this, Marvel is going to continue smashing the competition. This one edges out SUPERBOY by just the narrowest margin (and I may even come back in six months and flip those two and no one will ever know, we'll see if the memory lingers).