For all the iridescent Michelangelo and white knights over Gotham, this right here was not a very light week. *dodge*
S.H.I.E.L.D. #∞—A delight and treasure. Wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about any offering from this series not drawn by Dustin Weaver, but the random Italian-sounding fellas they got to draw these four parts all delivered solid pages. Though we possibly peak early with Nick Pitarra doing the first part, “Colossus.” I mean, that right there might have been cooler than anything that happened in the first volume. Your mind just redlines, at some point. And for me, that would be the shot of Newton strangling John Locke being a straight lift from L O S T 5.07. OVERLOAD. This is my favorite thing from Marvel in forever.
SECRET WARRIORS #26—Of course, when you take all three of Hickman’s Marvel books as a whole, it’s a whole new level of mental devastation. I don’t guess there’s a single creator that I’m digging on more at the moment. And this is a big one, right here. With only three issues left to go, counting this one, Hickman flips it all around upside down once again with not one but two major reveals that will add quite the depth to rereading this entire run all in one go. This series should have gotten a bit more of a push from corporate, a smart, well-constructed character piece with a coherent beginning, middle, and end, along with more twists and turns than a winding mountain road that will surely carry through to some sort of shocking and impossible to forecast conclusion. I can’t wait.
NEW AVENGERS #11—Man, maybe it’s just because I was at the Lubbock Comic Book Expo, but my man Chaykin seems to have done nothing but con sketches for this one. Need a little shadow under the neck? Quick squiggly marker line’ll set you straight. Note to editors: please, please do not put ads opposite splash pages. It almost completely nullifies their effect. I get that we have to have ads, but maybe put them somewhere where they don’t completely wreck the momentum of the narrative that we also helped subsidize? Deodato continues to kill it. Bendis, though, man, what he does with Fury’s speech, folding the name Avengers up into retribution for the Holocaust, just a hell of a trick. Almost seems to come out of nowhere, but of course the precedent’s been set by that first ALL-STAR COMICS cover. Some pretty fierce writing from a very busy man. And then he crushes it with the Hellcat-centric oral history, which, who saw that coming?
UNCANNY X-FORCE #7—Believe the hype on this one. Not since Morrison was behind the wheel has an X-book had this out of control feeling that anything could happen. Isad Ribic gives us some excellent Escher spaces that are very well complemented by Matthew Wilson’s colors. It’s nice to see someone not ignoring all the toys that Morrison lobbed on into the mythos. This has to be the best $4 Marvel book that I’m not buying (Thanks, Tommy!).
UNCANNY X-MEN #535—Ah, I liked this twice as much as the point-1. Why can’t the Dodsons just never go away? I was all primed and pumped for a sweet four-pager of Peter and Kitty recreating Scott and Jean’s famous New Mexico butte scene (oh, yes I did!) minus the consummation, so of course Gillen’s got to pull the rug out on page 2. And a Peter/Kitty fastball special is an inspired bit of fanboy wankery, wonder if he just thought of that or has been wanting to do it for ten years. Highly recommended for fans of Whedon/Cassaday’s original ASTONISHING run. Though, hey, maybe a double-pg ad spread spoiling the end of in-progress AGE OF X while advertising an X-FORCE issue that’s still four months away might be just a bit premature by a couple of weeks, you guys?
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #622—I couldn’t believe how excellent this one was. Gillen really turns it on here, digs deeper than I’ve seen from him in terms of just classical storytelling. Nails the tone of what a proper Asgard tale should be. And Braithwaite/Arreola’s art is exceptional. Dammit, Marvel! You’ve got me on the hook for another $4 book. Too, quite the bit fo weirdness, I finally got around to Radiohead's new album and actually had "Good Morning, Mr. Magpie" caught in my head when I started reading this issue. Was duly horrified to find all of those fellows flying around. Possibly one has nothing to do with the other, but with Gillen involved, I suspect that not to be the case.
JOHN BYRNE’S NEXT MEN vol. 2 #5—This book makes you almost think that it’s the final testament of a brilliant creative mind dissolving before your eyes right there on the paper, like Frank Miller or what I’ve heard about post-YOUNG LIARS Lapham (light a candle for YL and blow it out and swear you don’t smell smoke), but it’s so so measured, like, to a sociopathic extent, even though you get whiplash at some point every issue from the rocket ninety-degree turns that the plot makes, it still seems like there might be some grand vision unifying all of this crazy. That cover for next month is pretty glorious. Still hanging with this one, grateful that it even exists.
BUTCHER BAKER: THE RIGHTEOUS MAKER #2—All right, with the introduction of the surviving rogues gallery, we get a bit more depth from the bench and a better idea of how things might go from here, which, I had no idea after the first issue. Still not in for the long haul, but this thing is still fucking nuts enough to keep me around a while longer.
THE UNWRITTEN #24—I forgot to be excited about this, another in-between arcs done-in-one. Which is probably a good thing, last time’s choose-your-own-adventure set the bar impossibly high, so it was good just to dive in to this creepy story of a group of talking animal characters’ never-ending ascent of a really really tall staircase. I really dug the art, Chuckry killed it on the tones, but I’m thinking this Davison fellow doesn’t usually ink Gross’s work. It’s usually just Gross? I don’t know, maybe apples and oranges, because Gross keeps changing his style up, depending upon what the story calls for, but I thought the art on this one was better than it usually is. If you’re a fan of stories about stories, you really need this one in your life.
ADVENTURE COMICS #525—Mm, this one kind of left me cold. The Jiminez artwork is of course glorious, but I’m not really caring about any of these characters. Which is the only metric that matters. The Levitz double-run might be heading toward probation.
FLASH #10—Parallel Barry Allen! Johns is doing a good job slowly cranking us up for the big event while, for the moment, still somewhat maintaining the street-level vibe he built into the premise. Good issue. Can’t believe they’re going to renumber it already. Hope it’s #400 or whatever, not another new #1.
SUPERBOY #6—We lose Pier Gallo and this is part 5 of a title-spanning event starring Doomsday, so right away we know that one of my favorite monthlies is going to be taking a bit of a dip in quality this month, despite Jeff Lemire’s best efforts. But, you know what? Still better than most things. Nice two-pager opening with Conner and Tim, followed by Ray Palmer trying to get Simon to work for him before, yeah, Doomsday just pummels our beloved clone all to hell. We can live for another month without Gallo, Marco Rudy does fine here, though I do hope Jamie Grant is back on every page next time.
BATMAN & ROBIN #22—Tomasi & Gleason wind up their first arc and I still can’t believe how much I’m digging on this title half a year after Morrison’s left the building. Gorgeous shot of Arkham when they drive in, Alex Sinclair takes it over the top. The cowl ear thing has to be one of the funniest, most wonderful Bat-modifications ever. And I love the answer to that first letter, dude asks something about #3 and Marts or whoever says, check page 23 of #13 for the answer. ????
BEST OF WEEK: CASANOVA: GULA #IV—This comic just gets me, man. It’s everything I want and need and didn’t even know I was lacking until it’s right there unfolding before my eyes in all its newly colored sequential glory. This one’s probably a pretty terrible gateway issue for new readers. As are they all. Moon is a force. Fraction is lightning. Cris Peter makes it beautiful, all over again. Newman Xeno is Thomas Pynchon. Maybe. Just that page alone makes this one of my favorite things ever. This book is a wonderful, insane fucking thing, and we are all the richer for the fact that it managed to punch its way through into this particular –brane. And, of course, I have no idea what the backup has to do with anything. Maybe we’ll find out in September. It’s going to be a long, hot summer.