FF #1—Hickman’s run on FANTASTIC FOUR has been one of my favorite things coming out since the very first page, and he and Epting do not let us down over here with their sideways slide. This issue is, of course, a great jumping-on point for anyone who hasn’t been worshipping in the aisles, doling out a fair share of set-up that’s a joy to read in and of itself. I’m already loving the Parker dynamic. Nice touch giving all four members a single line of dialogue on their first page in action, you can’t fault the symmetry, there. Bringing the prophet into the fold is another bold stroke that will certainly lead to interesting developments as we head on down the road. Really really hope that they don’t reverse this and that I actually get to buy #12 of this title with Johnny still toast and no reversion to the old numbering. Great work, all around. I’m thrilled to be a part of tomorrow.
BATMAN INCORPORATED #4—This Chris Burnham is a shredder! Never heard of him before they announced his exclusive this week, but I’m a huge fan. He seems to be coming from the Pope/Grampa neck of the woods by way of Quitely. Hope he just stays on this one forever. Since we’re only two weeks since last issue and what with Batwoman and a different art team, I spent the first five pages thinking this was just a new Part One and we’d get back to Batman and El Gaucho next month. Which would have been kind of cool, though I’m sure the Internets would have howled like starving babies. But no, we just fold last month in to bookend a flashback tale of Batman romancing and losing Batwoman. Loved the retro art for that sequence. Was thinking those three horizontal panels of Robin pouting about the ubiquitousness of masks was one of the greatest things, and then that last panel of the page just blew the doors off. Too much fun with this one.
THE DARK KNIGHT #2—Okay, so it was a huge disservice to this set of splashes to read them right after the Morrison. Even so, this one felt just a bit slight. And that’s not even taking into account the rather significant gap since the first issue. The art is rocking, in that Jim-Lee-is-king-of-1991 way that Finch has totally mastered, but there’s not quite enough narrative to hang it on. I mean, what happens in this book is: Batman chases Penguin, breaks three of his limbs, Croc smashes Batman’s face into a wall, a little girl jacks the Batmobile, Jason Blood turns into Etrigan, Batman wakes up in a deathtrap, and Ragman comes out of nowhere to burn the last two pages. Staged and drawn real well. Not bad, just not a whole lot to sink your teeth into for the next two or three months.
UNCANNY X-MEN #534—And so Matt Fraction takes a bow after three years of scripting the merry mutants’ flagship. Even though this is as much as I’ve enjoyed this book since the original Claremont run, I still feel just a bit let down. Which is maybe a dick thing to say, but Fraction has done such great work over on IRON MAN with no signs of letting up whatsoever, and he’s killing it over on THOR, and let’s not get me started on CASANOVA. And I just didn’t catch fire with this run the way I wanted to. It always felt like it was building toward something, some capstone that never arrived. I wish they all could have been as good as #512, which was thunder. Alas. Goodbye, Fraction. Crush the fear.
Of course, Gillen probably did most of the actual scripting on this one, anyway. And I’m interested to see where he takes it, particularly bringing the Dodsons back on art. With him on this title and over on GENERATION HOPE, we’ve all of a sudden got that old Claremont dynamic of one dude chronicling the exploits of the senior and junior team. Except, ah, there are like thirty other mutant monthlies coming out. But still!
OSBORN #4—I’ve been enjoying this one, but the ladies cranked it way WAY up for the penultimate ride. I haven’t read but a fraction of his total appearances (pun really really not intended, but uncut in pursuit of some vague infinitely receding notion of journalistic integrity), but Kelly Sue puts the best words in Norman’s mouth that I’ve ever read, manages to capture his charisma, egotism, and instability in a single speech that gives St. Crispin’s Day a fair run for its money. Strong, strong material. Emma Rios and Jose Villarrubia continue to dominate. And just a hell of a letters page, too. A very, very enjoyable read.
CAPTAIN AMEIRCA #615.1—Brubaker pulls the trick of landing the initiative’s goal of bringing in new readers while also pushing the overall narrative forward in a very interesting way for those of us who’ve been around for the past six years. And the Breitweisers show up with a much looser style than what we saw a while back in THEATER OF WAR. All of this capped off by a very iconic cover from Daniel Acuna, and this one’s ready to move. Shouldn’t it have maybe come out in July, though?
THOR #620.1—Well, when I got home and realized that Fraction and Ferry have nothing to do with this, I was a bit pissed. It’s one thing to pump these extra issues out in the middle of an arc and have them just be standalones, like they just did with Remender’s UNCANNY X-FORCE or over on DEADPOOL. I don’t even mind changing artists, so that the regular guy or gal can maintain the monthly schedule. But I really feel like at least the writer needs to be a part of this self-proclaimed jumping-on point. I mean, is this team going to be putting out any more THOR books? This is, for all intents and purposes a fill-in issue that fills in a non-existent gap between #620 and #621. Ridiculous.
However. Casting the principle of the thing aside, is this a good comic book? No. It’s a GREAT comic book. Mark Brooks’s always superior draftsmanship has never looked better, and Abnett/Lanning show that they’re just as adept at juggling the Marvel Norse pantheon and goofy old B-villains as they have been at making the cosmic spectrum of the Marvel Universe relevant and engaging. Just a hell of an entertaining done-in-one. I’m still all gaga over Burnham across the street, but this is definitely some of the very best art this week. And it doesn’t hurt to have Sonia Oback step out on her man and color somebody else’s pages, she’s top drawer.
THE NEW YORK FIVE #3—Wood and Kelly are just on fire, here. What an alchemy between these guys. No complaints about the lettering, but you almost wish Jared K. Fletcher would have sat this one out and let Wood do it, just because that’s the only part of this that those two guys aren’t responsible for. For three American dollars, you get no ads and 32 pages of the best black and white art you’re going to see this month and maybe this entire year. And it’s all going down for our freshman quartet, some pretty serious business here, all filtered through what seems to be Wood’s most autobiographical authorial voice to date. That man loves his city. Really, really strong, can’t wait to see how it all shakes out next month. Ryan Kelly is just freaking me out, what a force. Dude should be getting the big money gigs.
GREEN LANTERN #64—I’m starting to run out of gas on this one, kind of an event fatigue thing. Nothing an issue of Hal and Ollie getting drunk and talking shit about Clark and Bruce wouldn’t clear up, but I feel like we’ve been running around the universe for like fifty issues now. Shouldn’t that ring be out of juice by now?
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #11—I’ve never heard of Daniel HBD either, but I love its name. I had a model like that, once. More great fill-in work. What a Legion Leader poll! Just beyond cool that they did that, and what a tally in the letters column. Levitz betrays no sign of flagging, is just getting his wind up.
FABLES #103—This is charging hard to trump all that’s come before as my favorite arc of the title. Wonderful, wonderful. The parallel plots of Super Team team-tup versus Mister Dark and the North Wind vs. his zephyr grandson are just about too much to handle. The trade-waiters are going to need diapers to read this thing in one sitting, I suspect. Strong.
BEST OF WEEK: NEONOMICON #4—Horrifying and executed to perfection. If this is the last page of sequentials that we ever get from Moore, it turns out to be really much more of a perfect way to go out than I ever saw coming, this whole time. Career best from Burrows. And probably Avatar, as well. Read it once by candlelight and then once with the Edisons on. Man, just that first page alone. A major work.
(reading this and finding out that SYM-BIONIC TITAN got cancelled, just a few hours apart, all of a sudden it’s the end of an era again. I hate it when that happens.)