Monday, June 27, 2011


THE MIGHTY THOR #3—We live in a beautiful world in which we get monthly doses of Laura Martin coloring both THOR and FEAR ITSELF. Poor Fraction. These pages are gorgeous, Copiel and Morales delivering A-list work. I kind of thought the entire issue was going to be slugfest gotime with just Thor and the Surfer throwing down, but of course it’s better to get more. The bit with Loki and Sif played perfectly, Volstagg versus Broxton, Oklahoma was as hilarious as it ought to have been, and just the page of Galactus and the Surfer sitting on the moon justifies the four bucks all by its lonesome. Really an incredible run brewing, here.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #619—Brubaker and company bring this three-in-one “Gulag” arc to a thunderous conclusion that, as usual, does as much to launch us into the next arc as it does to resolve what’s come before. I’ve really been digging the multiple art teams drawing a few pages each from a particular character’s POV. Nice validation for the extra buck. But, man! Brubaker’s suddenly schisming himself into two books. Not cool! Marvel keeps figuring out tricky ways to get my money out of my wallet in four dollar increments. The new title makes that scene from FEAR ITSELF #3 seem not quite so dire, though.

JOHN BYRNE’S NEXT MEN #7—I suddenly understand this perfectly and it’s BYRNE, he who dropped the FF run that’s arguably still second only to Stan & Jack (though Hick and man are words it’s probably not too soon to start stringing together during this conversation), relaunched The Man of Steel when I was nine, and is the twin heartbeat to arguably the greatest supersoap-opera run in all of comics, and what this man has done is dance back and pick up one of my favoritest dangling cliffhangers from 15+ years ago and turn Volume Two into, suddenly, one of my favorite time-travel stories that I’ve read in a long time. Thrilling. To be continued.

FABLES #106—Baaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwww! Well, this will be a HUGE difference between Wednesday regulars and tradewaiters, because I was totally unprepared four weeks later for the opening scene to just roll out with the pedal all the way down on the floor and then just THAT WAS THE ARC. I mean, climax in the first six pages and then only clean-up after that, on to the next thing. Master storytellers. Like clockwork, even.

BATMAN: GATES OF GOTHAM #2—Snyder and company are doing some cool things with dynasty and legacy here, validating Loeb’s Elliot family in a way that some folks might argue is undeserved but works for me just fine. This is a nuanced tale that juxtaposes the story of the brothers who built the bridges to Gotham for the major families with the shenanigans erupting in the present with all sidekicks on deck and Dick still in the cowl, for a little longer, anyway. So many good books in the Batman staple, lately.

BEST OF WEEK: SUPERMAN #712—Man, I can’t believe they were just sitting on this. Because editorial was afraid that there was some potentially sketchy content re: Muslims in the story Chris Roberson originally wrote for this issue, DC shelved it and dusted off this gem that Busiek wrote during his run five years ago, drawn by Rick Leonardi. This is a Krypto solo issue dealing with his reaction to Superboy dying during INFINITE CRISIS. Well, the fact that Conner has already been resurrected does nothing to diminish the emotional power of the simple tale of a dog who misses his boy. Just some heartbreaking moments in here, folks. If you can make it all the way through without misting up just a little, I swear they’ll get you on that last page. Very very well done.


AVENGERS #14—Bendis’s mighty talking heads return to tell us how it all went down in their tonally pitch-perfect voices. My favorite panel was Logan’s take as to what makes you an Avenger. If Wolverine makes a declarative statement while pointing at you and holding a beer can with the same hand, it’s doubleplus gospel. And okay, I suddenly almost care about the Red Hulk, as silly as the concept sounded to me when I heard about Loeb’s run. JRjr draws the hell out of the Red Hulk/Worthy Thing smashup. Of course. And man, the tower just goes down, kind of makes you wonder what they’ve got planned to up the stakes for the back end, here.

THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #505—Yeah, it is getting pretty biblical around these parts. Beautiful pages from Larroca and D’Armata, as usual. That last shot of him flying off is something else.

UNCANNY X-MEN #538—Fantastic conclusion to Gillen’s first solo arc. I love love love the work that he and the Dodsons have been doing. I’m sure that nostalgia for the halcyon days of the characters/franchise is playing a large part here, but if you can make me feel 23 years younger by the judicious application of corporate characters, then I say, Good on you. It’s interesting how it all comes around, Whedon seemed to start Buffy out as a Kitty Pryde analogue, then got the chance to script dialogue for the original a few years later. Now, this last scene by Gillen channels the Whedon tone to perfection. This is as much as I’ve enjoyed this flagship title in monthly form since I first stumbled into the last three years of Claremont’s run. I hope they never cancel it.

GENERATION HOPE #8—More Gillen goodness. Espin’s art is a little bit looser and cartoony than I prefer, but I can maybe rationalize it by glancing at some old Blevins NEW MUTANTS pages. Gillen seems to be building something here, having a good idea about where he’s taking these characters, and I’m interested to see what’s next.

X-FACTOR #221—As good as this series always is, David always trumps everything that follows with the bit of silly on the recap page, this one pumping me up more than usual, as I am also making my way through Watterson’s three-volume collection of CALVIN & HOBBES. I heard Leonard Kirk got assigned to this, fantastic news.

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #14—Only one DC book? That’s got to be some kind of record for me. This was cool enough, didn’t crush me, but solid. But what’s the deal with the two Mon-Els on the last page? I missed something.

BEST OF WEEK: KIRBY: GENESIS #1—This more than delivers on the promise of the zero issue as we fast forward a few years to our protagonist’s college years, at which point all the Kirby madness immediately starts erupting down from the sky, because where else? The pace is still batshit insane, with characters and origins dropping in left and right, but I don’t want my distilled Kirby any other way. I could use a little more Ross art in these pages, but I like what this Jack Herbert guy’s doing. Particularly since, you know, they could have tried to get Tom Scioli to do just a straight Kirby style, but he’s already doing GODLAND and the most Kirby thing to do is to not hire an artist to replicate Kirby’s style, but rather get someone who does their own thing. This one’s a lot of fun with the promise of much much more to come.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


NEW AVENGERS #13—Bendis and his split art team bring this second arc to a close. As incongruous as Chaykin and Deodato’s styles are, they both suit the story’s they’re telling, so while the transitions are at times a bit bumpy, the end result is satisfying. Deodato continues to knock it out, though his style is without doubt a better fit over on SECRET AVENGERS with all those shadows just screaming clandestine. Bendis again takes a single panel to stake his claim as absolute conduit to the voice of Peter Parker, that “That’s copyrighted” line, just a thing of perfection amidst all the shuffling. It continues to be enjoyable watching Luke Cage run his own team, but I’d sure like those oral histories to come back and make me feel better about that extra dollar I’m paying every month for the pleasure.

FRANKENSTEIN and the CREATURES OF THE UNKNOWN #1—Anyone grousing that this is nothing more than a monster book set in an alternate timeline that won’t even “matter” in three months has never read SUPERBOY or THE ESSEX COUNTY TRILOGY. Aren’t the best stories generally self-contained? Ibraim Roberson and Pete Pantazis turn in some lush work with a definite European feel that augments the material. Lemire gets a lot done in this issue, we meet the team, get them set up, put down, and back up with a new mission to accomplish, leaving us just the last splash to meet our heroic antagonist. While not being anywhere near as insane as Morrison’s take a few years back, and no foul, there, this is good clean monster fun that I have no problem recommending, even though it’s a bit light on characterization.

MORNING GLORIES #10—Now, I quite liked this one. Of course, a closing conversation like that, I’m a sucker for that trick, every time. This one’s been lagging a little bit in the –centric done-in-ones, curious given Spencer’s apparently fanatical devotion to L O S T, but we’re picking up a little speed here as we come around the turn. I’m positive this is all going to make much more sense in a marathon gulp.

THE UNWRITTEN #26—In which our heroes succeed and a nun who is not a nun creeps the hell out of everybody. I like how this was just a two-part get-in/get-out kind of thing. No reason to drag things out. I assume DC’s massive relaunch is leaving Vertigo proper alone, at least, I very much hope this is the case. It would be a shame to lose this one because of corporate. It continues to be indispensable for those of us who will forever fall under the charm of stories about stories and how they reflect the ones who read with their eyes and hearts open as wide they can manage.

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #624—Yeah, man, Gillen continues just to tear this one apart. I’ve always been in his corner and rooting for him on his ascent ever since reading the cover of PHONOGRAM vol. 2 #1, but he is simply firing on all cylinders here. Freaking me out with it, I mean. I don’t think Loki was this compelling under Simonson. Which I’m thinking means No More Calls, we have a winner. The art remains breathtaking. A quality Marvel comic for you right here, folks, surely the best random FEAR ITSELF tie-in on the rack (at least, unless and until Bendis just goes apeshit next month on AVENGERS, which is certainly within the realm).


BEST OF WEEK: AMERICAN VAMPIRE: SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST #1—I was going to wait for the trade on this, but it was in my Pull and a light week, so I figured what the hell. And so so glad, because I had no idea Dave Stewart was coloring this until I cracked it open tonight. That’s Dave Stewart. Coloring Sean Murphy. JOE THE BARBARIAN, y’all! It’s mainly set-up as we meet Jim Book’s little girl, all grown up and continuing Daddy’s work, but Snyder is so deft with the beats and these guys instill every panel with so much electric that it still comes out on top this week, Stewart granting the final momentum necessary to surge past Lemire and his monstrous upstarts.


It’s Big Event Week! We get the first round of Flashpoint tie-ins, as well as the latest core issues of that event and FEAR ITSELF. More importantly, Hickman/Weaver’s S.H.I.E.L.D returns! All the Lone Star in the world is not enough*. Let’s get right to it.

FEAR ITSELF #3—Everyone really operating at a super-optimized level, we are all of us students of Ellis, disciples even, but no mainstream working professionals more so than Fraction and Gillen, the WEF alumni, they’ve of course got their own unique voices, epitomized in CASANOVA and PHONOGRAM, naturally, but it’s interesting to consider how Ellisian, coined here pretty much as a synonym for “streamlined” or “anti-bullshit,” their voice is in the Marvel Universe proper. What I’m trying to say is Fraction seems to be making the same choices that Ellis would be making, given this gig. Which I’m very much all right with. This issue possibly fails to live up to the glorious perfection of its title, but that’s only because the title is so, so good. Just the recap page of pin-ups got me all gassed up, surely a good sign. It was a great ride, too bad about that fella at the end, there. If they’re going to charge $4 for every issue of this and only provide 22 pages, there really needs to be some backmatter.

FLASHPOINT #2—Man, when it comes time for the Big Event, that Johns does not bring the sunshine. “IT WAS REVENGE IN REVERSE” is a great Silver-Age line. This issue as a whole, though, a little bit thin. Kubert remains a hoss, but there’s not quite enough advancement of the main narrative here, especially given that we’re now 40% of the way home. Not bad, but I was expecting a little bit more, by now. Something of real consequence, that would ring forward down through the years of continuity and matter, forever and for all time! Is that too much to expect from DC this summer?

FLASHPOINT: BATMAN, KNIGHT OF VENGEANCE #1—Oh, never really even anticipated or respected how good it would feel to get a direct dose from this team, rolled through the hun’dedB in trades, but here last week and now again, such a fresh blast, Patricia & Clem, all the gang, this one’s already encroaching upon my Batman All-Time 25. Ten times better than those six issues in between Hush and Judd fucking Winick (as great as Dustin Nguyen is). It turns out Batman could be much more of a dick.

Whew! But those events were quite the thrill ride. What else is going on this week, you ask? Read on, Sequential Acolyte!

THE BOYS #55—Ennis puts this talky arc to bed with a serious bombshell in the Hughie/Annie dept. before a last scene that somewhat left me in the dust. Is Mother’s Milk the unseen individual? Is there significance that there are periods on the penultimate page, M.M., and then nothing on the final page, MM? I kind of feel like Ennis lost me a bit, and I wasn’t even blind yet.

WEIRD WORLDS #6—Huh. Two of the three stories are To Be Continued. That’s kind of a garbage thing to do to folks who sign on to a six-issue anthology starring Lobo and two brand new characters. I mean, it’s not like Garbageman and Tanga had to meet their final fates (hmm, well . .), but a bit more closure would be nice before kicking it out to the next title, MY GREATEST ADVENTURE (a title I can get behind, starring those two characters, not so much). Ordway really blew me away on that Lobo serial, I’m about ready for 200+ pages of whatever he’s in the mood to draw, dude is peaking.

SUPERBOY #8—Oh, hello love, here you are. After two months in the mire, one of my very favorite monthlies returns, chock full of Lemire/Gallo/Grant goodness. I guess all we’re going to wind up with is this last arc, and that will lead us back to the back-up story that was in ACTION many moons back. This is just, yeah, everything’s back in its right place. If Morrison’s BATMAN run in fact weathers The Shift, then this will by far be the greatest casualty of the new regime.

HOUSE OF MYSTERY #38—This one’s just my ideal velocity of madness. Sturges makes up a crazy enough short to utilize Lapham to his greatest deranged potential, and yeah, no one saw that last page coming.

ADVENTURE COMICS #527—Just when I’m on the verge of bailing, Levitz cuts off a slice here that just does a little bit more for me. Guess we’ll hang on through the summertime.


BEST OF WEEK: S.H.I.E.L.D. vol. 2 #1—Now, that’s what I call backmatter. This thing continues to be a triumph on every level. The best output from Marvel in years and years. Worth of being spoken of in the same breath as Simonson Thor or Byrne FF or Miller Daredevil. Glory, trapped in panels. Every page, a thrill.

*actually, as it turns out, a considerably smaller fraction of all the Lone Star in the world was more than enough to keep this edition from being fully completed (read, mainly expurgated of intoxicated madness) for an entire week. We here at Wednesday Night Mass apologize for this lapse and pledge to do better by you, our hypothetical and largely imaginary readers