Thursday, July 28, 2011


X-MEN: SCHISM #2—This is simply nothing more nor less than the goodness delivered last issue as Quentin Quire seeks asylum, Cyclops lies to Steve Rogers’ face, the new Hellfire Club gears up for domination, and Frank Cho draws Rogue, to the delight of all. Great fun.

FF #7—So, yeah, this turned out to be a full-on (fill-in, some would have it) Inhumans two-parter, which I think was an all right way to burn a couple of issues on the biweekly schedule, here, though I’m ready to get back to Epting and the regular two dozen or so cast members. I mean, if you want to fuck around with the main cast, hide all the heroes and villains that are still pressure cooking in that one building, send Alex Power and Valeria down for a hot dog or pretzel, am I right? I can do twenty-two pages of that, no problem. Venturing out of the hypothetical, I still don’t get how Black Bolt’s voice is heard or capable of causing destruction in space. The vacuum and all. Has FIREFLY taught us nothing? Medusa was certainly about as cool as a queen could be with picking up four sister-wives out of nowhere. You know what she and Crystal have been watching on HBO. The look on Black Bolt’s face is more, I guess “realistic” maybe shouldn’t be the word choice to go with, but, yeah, the way he’s eyeballing that Dire Wraith bride is about right. Friday nights won’t be quite as much fun. It will be good to get back to the eponymous team next time. Peter Parker has joined, you know, and quips just all the time!

THE MIGHTY THOR #4—This is a really, really good-looking book. You could complain about this taking place before FEAR ITSELF, but I wasn’t really that worried that Galactus was going to devour the planet so much, anyway. Killer last line by Thor on Mars. That will keep the kids coming back, The Matt Fraction!

CAPTAIN AMERICA & BUCKY #620—I guess this is what Brubaker got to partially make up for what went down in FEAR ITSELF. It would have been cool if they had inverted the title. And much more accurate. But yeah, Samnee & Breitweiser giving us BUCKY: YEAR ONE, or anything at all, more please, always.

CRIMINAL: THE LAST OF THE INNOCENT #2—This one had a lot to live up to after the uppercut that the first issue gave me, and it delivers on every level. Serious escalation, enough to make you think that there could possibly only be one part left to this arc. And Megan Abbott continues the streak of cranking out an essay that’s at least as enjoyable as the main feature, this one beautifully reminiscing over this sort of proto-Unsolved Mysteries show hosted by Leonard Nimoy in the seventies. This title continues to be one of the most consistently rewarding on the rack.

KIRBY: GENESIS #2—All right, it’s kind of starting to freak me out when the characters turn and just start talking to me. Fourth WORLD, not wall! This isn’t Byrne’s SHE-HULK. Still, fantastic and dynamic concepts keep raining down on us at a breakneck pace, so there’s nothing to complain about. And it looks like Darkseid just showed up, or someone close enough, which has to be a good thing.

JOHN BYRNE’S NEXT MEN #8—Wait, Thomas Kirkland?!?! Has he been here this whole time and just not been name-checked? Or did it just take me this long to lock back into 2112? But next issue’s it? And the cover’s just like #30 from the last volume. This thing is going to definitely require a single-sitting pass. I sure am glad that Byrne got around to putting it out there.

BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT#4—Oh ho, and now this title’s output for the past three weeks matches that of the preceding six months. Never heard of Jason Fabok, but he does a pretty solid job of showing up with lines that look close enough to what Finch would have done, if we could have all waited until Thanksgiving for this issue to show up. This one doesn’t really hit me much either way. It’s not bad at all, but it’s also not, you know, a great Batman story. I suppose I’ll pick up #5 whenever it shows up in August and give #1 with Milligan a shot, but I can also see moving on. Finch isn’t still acting like he’s going to stay on this monthly, right? They’re going to have to alternate arcs with this Fabok fella, or someone.

FABLES #107—Another entertaining, immaculately crafted story that sheds light on a corner of this expansive universe that we haven’t visited in quite some time. This series has been so excellent for so long, it kind of spoils the reader. No, not that “spoils”!

AMERICAN VAMPIRE #17—Mm, not sure what else to say about this, kind of the same story with FABLES, more unremarkable quality.

DETECTIVE COMICS #880—All right, I mistakenly thought that this was the last ever issue of the first volume of this classic series, which jacked up the reading experience a bit more for me. Snyder & Jock continue to call down destruction from on high. I was a little bit uncertain about the Joker showing up here after disappearing at the end of Morrison’s second act, how it all lined up, but Snyder makes it all work well before the last page. It really wouldn’t be out of place for Starring THE GORDONS to appear under the title, the two Jims have been front and center since the first issue of this run, with Barbara darting in at will for pitch-perfect characterization. This issue, in particular, features a walk-away line from Babs that is bound to have fans of her post-Killing Joke/Oracle evolution cheering, no matter what’s happening in September. The best part, though, hands down, as ever, is the interaction between Gordon and Dick. I mean, think about it, Jim’s a solid #3 for surrogate father figure, and the way these two interact really showcases Snyder’s grasp of the relationship. Real glad to get one more of these, should be a hell of a finale. Over much too soon, really.

BEST OF WEEK: THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN CENTURY 1969—To actually properly review this thing would take at least another couple of reads and probably a bit of distance but after only getting flattened by it the one time, I can safely say that it blew away everything else this week. Which is only fair, I mean 72 pages by these guys up against less than a third of that from anyone else is not exactly shooting straight. I reread 1910 the previous night to get ready and was still surprised by both how much of a tonal shift this has been from the previous volume along with how little of one we got in between the first and second parts. Which, you know, there was only a gap of twelve years in between Volume Two and Three, but almost a full six decade jump here since the first chapter that came out, I guess it was November of 2009. Seems like I was home for Thanksgiving and had a baby sleeping in the other room, anyway.

But yes, this particular volume. We open with a nice bit of symmetry, Danni Nemo near the end of her life captaining the Nautilus for the better part of the 20th century. O’Neil continues to excel with packing each and every page full of so many Easter eggs that it really defies comprehension. Moore appears to have totally blown past caring about, if he ever did, the comprehension of American readers and is just tossing in every obscure English character he has ever encountered in his extremely well-read life, not to mention Brian Jones, late of the Rolling Stones (and I suppose the Monty Python lads in character as The Rutles). The team dynamic has shifted over to a pretty strange place, a triangle between Mina and Quartermain and Orlando, who involuntarily shifts back and forth between genders. Plus, Mina at least is having some serious issues with the whole immortality game as she closes in on the end of her first century. And the team is still trying to run down the fictitious version of Aleister Crowley, or at least the demon who inhabited him? I’m not 100% clear on the distinction. But everybody runs around trying to make something happen while Moore & O’Neil launch salvo after salvo of references and in-jokes. Jerry Cornelius shows up, or maybe it was Michael Moorcock, London’s first comic book store gets referenced via the title of a different Ray Bradbury story, and everyone marvels at how clever our creators really are.


But the nonsense madness really kicks into overdrive at the Purple Orchestra concert in Hyde Park, which I’m sure is based on an actual Stones show in the same place. Just when it doesn’t seem as though the story can get any bleaker, Mina takes some acid and gets straight up raped by Voldemort, then institutionalized for at least the next eight years. That’s right. Out of nowhere, just when you think that Moore can’t get any cannier or cheekier with his obscure references, he pulls a 180 and drops in possibly the most widely known villain in popular culture at the moment. It would be the equivalent of Darth Vader showing up if this were being published in 1980. Even cooler, Moore draws a straight line from Crowley to young Tom Riddle in a way that somehow comes across as organic and not forced. The bit about having him lie that he teaches Defence Against the Dark Arts “at a school up north” is just the masterstroke, absolutely brilliant. And the King’s Cross exit in alternating panels. I think anyone on the fence about this one has to give it up for that climax, just spitting fire. But yes, clearly a very dark turn of events. It will be very interesting to see where the crew takes this for the final installment and how they leave the status quo set up for future volumes. Also, serious extra credit for the six or eight pages of text at the end, prose so elevated I got high just reading it, thrilling to the adventures of Jackboy Sixty and delighting in Moore’s ability to even cram in guys who have got to be the fathers of Richard Belzar’s ubiquitous John Munch and even fucking Rawls from THE WIRE. McNulty wept.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


AVENGERS #15—Bendis has been doing fine work throughout, but he really crushes this one, tells a perfectly contained story with a beginning, middle, and end, while advancing the main big event narrative just a little bit forward. And it’s all about Jessica Drew. Surely everyone’s loving the business between her and Hawkeye. Bachalo really makes it happen, to the extent that the ads annoyed me a lot more than usual, really just wanted some of those splashes to have room to breathe. I remain a fan of the 12-panel pages of talking heads opening up to crazy mayhem violence without dialogue, the Bendis talk-o-meter from wide-open to all the way shut. Rounding the corner here, FEAR ITSELF is looking to be one of my favorite events from the standpoint that there are several tie-ins per month that do exactly what they’re supposed to and really elevate the main series, which, it doesn’t really need much help, y’know?

And talking tie-ins . . .

INVINICIBLE IRON MAN #506—It’s nice when the writer of the main title also has a regular going and can fill in his own empty spaces elsewhere. This . . . man, this. It occurred to me while reading this that these same guys have been putting out this book month in, month out, since the Wednesday after Favreau and Downey, Jr. reminded us how much viability these characters really had in other mediums when done right. Over three years and counting. And it just keeps getting better. The rune-swearing was hilarious and really worked for me. As did Pepper stepping up to the plate, love Fraction’s work with her. Most shocking, though, is the way that he’s pulled the trick of knocking Tony off the wagon after all these years and still making us root for him. It always seemed to me like that could never, ever happen. At least not without just straight Leaving Las Vegas-style pity party. But, no, hell, I went and poured myself a shot for that last toast, never gotten to have one with my man T. Stark before. Another fantastic tie-in and, again, one of my favorite issues of this run. God help whoever gets the job whenever these guys finally bail. What a hell of a last issue THAT thing is going to be.

UNCANNY X-MEN #541—All right, I actually dug on some of Land’s pages, here. Does that obliterate my credibility? Well, it’s the truth. Predictably, nothing can stop the Juggernaut, still, only now when he’s got those runes in his word balloons, and all the rest of the Worthy or Mighty or what have you, for the rest of the event, I guess, I’m just going to hear dwarves swearing. Which isn’t that bad of a thing, I suppose. On to more Gillen!

GENERATION HOPE #9—Requisite Team Phonogram, I Heart You So Much mention. Seriously, in two years or whenever, these guys need to get the straight-up CASANOVA treatment, fold the first two trades into the Icon line and roll up with Volume 3 singles. Hell, we don’t even really need the first volume, that one night at the club ought to do it. But I digress. I can’t even be objective about this issue because I’m insane about these two guys working together, even without Matt Wilson coloring. McKelvie’s line is so sharp. Love his facial expressions. Perfect fit for this premise. What we get here is basically an update of the classic Claremont/Guice NEW MUTANTS #45 (Volume 1, True Believers!), the old humans-or-at-least-especially-teenagers-are-all-totally-shit-to-newly-manifesting-mutants-particularly-if-our-crew-is-the-least-bit-flatfooted-about-making-it-onto-the-scene number. Not nearly as crushing as the ballad of Larry Bodine, but hey, they only used maybe 25% of the words that Claremont did.

X-FACTOR #222—Emanuella Lupacchino returns! Thought we’d lost her. That third page with Guido and Monet has got to be the best non-Layla page of this entire run. Interesting developments, another great issue. Only complaint is that we really really don’t need Werewolf by Night quoting T2. Even, especially, if he drops the reference as a disclaimer. Sour note to end on, but otherwise, more greatness.

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #15—Had a feeling that Cinar was about to move on. Levitz writes him up a hell of a swan song. Okay, but I have to talk about the Subway comic, the little 6-pg inset. Who’s producing this madness?!? Those names in the credits are fake. I mean, Adam Archer? The GODLAND guy? What’s bizarre about these things is that they’re not terrible, I mean, yes, they are DCU stories that exist only as vehicles for Subway product placement, so, a hell of a thing to overcome, and it’s not like Morrison JLA or anything, but, maybe it’s the celebrity factor, there’s enough wtf? going on to help me really enjoy making it through the six pages. And shoot me in the head if there isn’t honest-to-God sexual tension between Jared Fogle and Laila Ali in the last two panels. That final HEY! is straight Diceman, or I’m a pretty lady.

Oh, what, Legion? Levitz has done a good job, waited so long that the last-page about-face from the first issue is now finally a bit surprising. Enjoyed Cinar’s run.

BATMAN: GATES OF GOTHAM#3—Yeah, these guys are continuing to knock it down. Certainly not a bad idea to wait for in trade, but I’m glad I went ahead and picked up the singles. So cool that a bunch of guys I never heard of two years ago can show up and dig this deep into Gotham history to tell a story this good.

BUTCHER, BAKER, CANDLESTICKMAKER #1—Like pretty much everyone, I was expecting the serious greatness from this one, Robertson returns to the fold for the long awaited Butcher-centric. And it was even better than I was looking for. Hell of an opening scene, that page five splash is perfection. And the rest of this opening issue is as dark as it should be. Complete with the doomed brother we’ve never heard of and probably two dozen usages of the word “cunt.” Good job, this.

****BEST OF WEEK: ROCKETEER ADVENTURES #3—How can this anthology keep maintaining this level of quality? Some really talented people love them some Cliff Secord, and no two ways about it. Ryan Sook turns out to be almost as good of a writer as he is an artist, beautiful work. Then Joe R. Lansdale drops by with some straight pulp fiction illustrated by Bruce Timm, which sounds like a bizarre match, though it somehow works. The lads from TURF turn in this issue’s final entry. Nothing here still tops Busiek/Kaluta’s perfect gem at the end of #1, but Dave Stevens should be a proud, proud ghost, because his baby has been in very good hands. And, man, McCarthy next month. Just the best possible news, feels like.

Friday, July 15, 2011


THE RED WING #1—Hickman and a crew of folks he appears to have materialized from out of nowhere show up with a tale that’s interesting and engaging from the get-go. I dug the opening scene that hits the chronal wall and cuts to four pages of white, even more striking than Brubaker/Phillips/Staples pulling some of the same pacing malarkey over on CRIMINAL. My only marginal complaint is that this first issue’s so heavy on the coolness of time-travel fighter pilots, it’s a little light on character development. But, you know, with this much crazy bursting forth, I don’t actually need that much, and have faith that Hickman will deliver. He does have a thing for the time-traveling fathers in absentia, though, doesn’t he?

FF #6—Mm, well, one cool thing about this coming out bi-weekly is that we can just take the whole issue to hang out with the Inhumans and not miss our regular cast too badly. Tocchini provides solid pages, though they didn’t move me quite as heavily as the past couple issues of Kitson. This one didn’t blow me away as much as the rest of the series has been doing, but served as an interesting quasi-retcon for Black Bolt that I’m sure will yield pretty serious business in the months to come.

THE NEW AVENGERS #14—Bendis and crew continue to hammer out the tie-in goodness. Believable almost-exit from Pete dialogued to perfection, as usual. Mockingbird whupping ass up on some giant Nazi robots, Luke Cage subbing in for Pete on a Fastball Special, the Merry Marvel Magnificence we’ve all come to expect, or at least hope for, hey.

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #625—These folks continue to tear it up. Gorgeous colors on this tale that makes us continue to root for Boy Loki, little shit though he be. This has already got to be one of the most underrated books Marvel puts out, serious quality.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #1—Weeeeell, I guess there’s a movie coming out, so never mind the organic character-driven motion that Brubaker’s been pumping out month after month for six years and change. Change should probably be in quotes. Baaaaah! So, corporate/editorial mandate kvetching aside, this is actually, of course, still a really wonderful issue, and certainly what you want to put in the hands of all the kids and adults streaming into the store after watching Chris Evans hurl his red, white & blue hunk of vibranium about. McNiven knocks it down, as ever, staged a really cool kind of homage to Steranko on that page where the action kicks in and Steve starts running and all of a sudden it looks like a STRANGE TALES cover with Nick, Dum-Dum, and Sharon in the background (and, okay, talking the Cap movie and Nick Fury, HOW could they miss the chance to have Samuel L. back in WWII kicking ass with the Howling Commandos? It Does Not Make Sense. They already paid him, what $20 million for nine movies, what is there a stipulation in the contract that says he can only appear in two minutes of half of them? Infinity Formula, son!). But yeah, this is a really solid new #1 that actually feels tonally just about exactly like the last Brubaker #1, minus the jaw-dropping Holy Shit murdering the Red Skull on the last page moment.

THE UNWRITTEN #27—Another solid entry in the canon. I’m digging the Tinker and curious to see how this riff on Golden Age creation plays out against the main narrative.

BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT #3—Wow. It’s been over six months since #1 of this came out. Seems pretty wild that Finch got this thing greenlit, well, much more so that he’s going to survive September, even with bringing Milligan on. I mean, of all the titles, I’ll be stunned if this and JL make it to six issues. Moreso this. But how’s the issue? Mm, it still takes maybe five minutes to read, there’s a ton of great hyper-detailed quasi-Jim Lee linework, and there’s another dramatic character reveal burning up the last two pages, though I’m not sure who it is. Not terrible, but nowhere near the crushing experiences I’m receiving in Gotham from other sources.

GREEN LANTERN#67—Wow, can’t believe that this ending didn’t get spoiled. A pretty surprising shakeup to the status quo. I’m, yeah, really interested to see where Johns is going to take this next. Mahnke is still a hoss.

AMERICAN VAMPIRE: SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST #2—Murphy/Stewart are really just stunning. Vampire Nazis and why not, of course! Snyder gives us another installment demonstrating that he’s a storyteller of the highest caliber. Quite the rookie season this fella’s had.

DETECTIVE COMICS #879—Francavilla colors, too?!? This guy is an animal. Yeah, Snyder just pretty much wants this book to be about Jim Gordon and then offers definitive proof on a monthly basis as to why that’s a wonderful idea. And of course, the fuse gets lit at the end of this one, Gordon’s next move is going to be interesting to behold. Just one more issue until the relaunch, right? And Jock is back. Should be a hell of a thing.

FLASHPOINT: FRANKENSTEIN AND THE CREATURES OF THE UNKNOWN #2—Lemire and friends continue to dish out the creature commando goodness. Not setting the medium on fire but tremendous fun. This is the only tie-in of the event I’m buying besides BATMAN, and that’s looking like the call here with just a little bit left to go down the stretch.


BEST OF WEEK: X-MEN: SCHISM #1—I barreled away from the horrah that was the post-Claremont ‘90s X-Men franchise as fast as anybody else, dipped my toe back in the water with Joe Mad for a minute, but it wasn’t until they brought Morrison over for NEW X-MEN that I came back in as a monthly reader. Then, right after he was out, Whedon & Cassaday started their run, which was certainly no less wonderful in my eyes for the fact that it appeared to have been created specifically to squeeze all of my nostalgia glands dry on a bi- or tri-monthly basis. By the time that beast finally tapered off, we had Fraction about ready to go on UNCANNY and Ellis picking up the slack on ASTONISHING, and then Gillen subbing in lately for Fraction and really just creaming everybody in a very few issues. Enter Jason Aaron. I haven’t hit any of his Marvel work because they’ve charged $4 for every single single he’s ever put out, and for whatever reason, I drew the line with him and Remender (much to my entertainment detriment, I’m sure). But I’m a huge fan of SCALPED and couldn’t resist checking this out to see what he’d do when he got the keys to the entire damn mansion. And, friends, it is a thing of beauty. Pitch-perfect character beats raining down like a hailstorm. I don’t think I’ve read better interaction between Scott and Logan ever. We even get a benday-dot flashback to a panel from the early 100s. Aaron doesn’t just nail it to the wall, he drags Pierce’s big old wooden X from UNCANNY #251 out of the Australian outback and crucifies that shit. And brings back Kid Omega. And introduces a new Black King of the Hellfire Club who is actually menacing and compelling. I’ve been digging on the franchise more and more in the past few years, and it looks like it’s in better hands than ever, here on the cusp of the next big wave. A stunning first issue.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


FEAR ITSELF #4—All right, yeah, the rollercoaster just rocketlaunched off the tracks. I’m somehow so damaged by the endless cycle of death/resurrection of late (read: the aughts, L O S T, particularly the terrible and offsetting cliffhangers in 5.10 and 5.14, comic books in general, the Jean Grey/Elektra Rule, the Uncle Ben/Bucky Barnes Rule, see etc.) that I didn’t even flinch at the end of last issue when Sin RIPPED BUCKY’S HEART OUT and arm off, was just like, They’ll put him back together, it’s not like Brubaker’s-Resurrected-After-65-Years-Winter-Soldier-Completely-Counterintuitive-Success-Character was just out like THAT. Except, then, now, they’re like Yeah. Bucky’s dead. For real this time, y’all. And then I’m like O SHIT! For REALZ! They DID IT?!?!? Like, that last page of Gulag I just read a couple weeks ago was Brubaker’s last present-day word on the subject/narrative/character? (And, wait a minute, doesn’t Bru convert the original #ing to a CAP/BUCKY flashback strip next month? It’s all making too much sense…) But then, no, my reaction to Bucky Really Being Dead!!!! which, again, in sequential terms, actually took place an entire four Wednesdays ago, was now without warning all blown up into stark raving shock and freaking out. And then the actual issue really cranked that state of being up beyond what anyone would consider appropriate. This was just like with FINAL CRISIS, when it didn’t make almost any kind of sense and I didn’t begin to adore it until the fourth issue, when the slow burn kindled up to every panel being suddenly a perfectly explosive self-contained beat unto itself, implying scenes upon scenes of grandeur in between every panel, each and all of the gutters crackling with much more than ever made it onto the page. All ready to scratch my eyes out for the last three issues, now now now, but then, am no longer a teenage girl. Though, you shoulda seen.

UNCANNY X-MEN #540—Third issue in four weeks and the narrative momentum makes Gillen that much tougher to handle in silence while reading. My man is killing it. And what a long strange trip it’s been with Land. I’ve grown to, if not accept him, feel comforted by his constance of presence, the dead angles. Other than that page with Illyana getting colored in a two-dimensional plane, I was kind of feeling it. Particularly the Peter and Kitty stuff. As evah.

THE BOYS #56—The simple trick of organically cycling us all the way back around to the original premise at its most basic, Butcher and Hughie walking around talking shit and being cool all the time, charts this one on opening night as one of the series-best issues in recent memory, way up there all-time, even. I mean, really, a couple of these pages right here, if I could own any original art of the seventy+ issue run, I think they’re in this one. The first appearance of Doctor Peculiar and the one when Butcher’s cunt sense tingles.

HOUSE OF MYSTERY #39—Wow, and then all parties here at the tip top of their game, anyone who was monthly on SANDMAN is going to get dynamited at the fun that Goldie gets to have. Does m’heart good to see a medium/young Vertigo title like this just killing it, every month and all the time. And then, hah, Sturges delivers a wallop of a segueway to my own personal Wednesday night set list on the last page, there. Relaunch!

FLASHPOINT #3—All right, I am also suddenly and officially digging upon this big event, too. The gig is apparently for real, Barry Allen Flash and Thomas Wayne Batman and, still and why not, Vic Stone Cyborg will be our Trinity this time out, and you know what, that frame has some heft to it. Interested in where this goes. Though doesn’t FLASH #8 probably hold the key or some all-important clue? That seemed so important a few months back. And Diana and Arthur still off-panel, about to end the world with their war. It is so and so cool that FEAR ITSELF and this continue to be released the same night, handling Kubert & co here, opposite Immonen/Martin/all the lovelies, really too many jawdropping pages to take, not even counting that they’re both front and center main-as-mainstream-gets corporate big events.

ADVENTURE COMICS #528—Levitz brings the Academy situation to a crescendo and Borges Borges Borges continues to not look like an asshole while following up Jiminez, which, who could hope for more? Quite intrigued to see what sort of a curtain call Levitz has on tap for, I guess, the next three issues.

BEST OF WEEK: SUPERBOY #9—And then, yes, I do believe Lemire/Gallo/Grant&friend remain smashing on all cylinders, am more engaged with this particular serial than the other two summer blockbusters which both just got really really good. The call and response of Simon editing Psionic Lad’s name before the revelation there, such nimble narrative work. I guess it’s all got to be over next month, and I certainly don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be, other than I wanted this to keep going on and on. Editorial would have created suffocating advance hype, but done far better by the content, just to call this ALL-STAR SUPERBOY from the top. The Conner Kent Zenith.

(though BESTOFWEEK might really and true revert back to FEAR ITSELF here, just any time. SUPERBOY, at the moment, benefits from the sequence)

Saturday, July 2, 2011


FF #5—Man, Kitson and Mounts’s work is glorious. Beautiful pages. Kudos to editorial for making sure the second arc maintains the first’s A-level quality. I enjoyed seeing Alex Power get creative with a rowdy mob of moloids. Nice scene between Ben and Alicia, though that last line was just a bit too on-the-nose for my taste. I loved the page of Reed and Alex, very cool mentor-mentee relationship fully actualized in, what, really only two panels? Deft. My only gripe is that I wish they would never ever spoil a last page reveal with the cover, even one done in silhouette. Even if CBR already did it a couple of weeks ago. I get how marketing’s important, luring lapsed readers (or what’s the newDCspeak? Readers-to-be) in with the promise of something momentous, but it’s a shame when it’s done at the expense of surprising the folks who always show up, month in, month out. I should probably stop bitching and just quit checking CBR, hey.

UNCANNY X-MEN #539—Just a hell of an issue. Ibraim Roberson absolutely burns up this done-in-one starring Logan and Hope, a beautiful character study that sees Wolverine burned to a crisp and makes you slap your forehead at the obvious reason that he’s been kind of a dick to her all this time instead of just letting her fall into the role of Teenage Girl Sidekick #8, whatever number he’s up to. That dialogue at the end is pitch-perfect. Loving loving Gillen on this, don’t even mind that we’re suddenly bi-weekly at $4 a pop. Quality mutant merriment.

ROCKETEER ADVENTURES #2—Another solid outing, though not quite as devastating as the first issue. Waid delivers a tonally perfect script that maybe winks at the reader once or twice too often in its eight pages. Cooke nails it, I particularly love the recap page and the cliffhanger. Add Rocketeer serials to the long list of something this guy could knock out of the park for as long as he wanted to. The Geof Darrow double-splash is breathtaking and has the requisite 295 bullet casings spilling out all over the place. And then Lowell Francis and Gene Ha, who I want to say also put out a FLASHPOINT: SUPERMAN issue today, did a perfectly serviceable job on the last story, though, yeah, Busiek & Kaluta from last month are still the team to beat, thus far. Oh, and tremendous work from Dave Stewart, throughout.

SUPER DINOSAUR #2 & 3—Mm, I like the idea of this, but the execution in serial form is not making me feel solid for the long haul. Twenty pages, no ads, all ages, brand new characters and story. All right, I’m in. Jason Howard’s art looks great, at least one wonderful double-splash per issue, and Kirkman’s still rocking his ear for dialogue, but the thing is . . . I don’t really like Derek Dynamo. I’m not rooting for him at all, more getting excited when the ice breaks and he starts falling. Then, he fires a Bat-grappler and says “Bottomless pit? NO PROBLEM!” and I just want to smack his smarmy little face. The same goes with the Kingstons, the inventor family who just moved in. “Did somebody say cold weather gear? Well, it just so happens…” I swear that exact beat has happened in every single issue, now. I don’t know. This book is already so convinced of its own super-awesomeness, it’s kind of having a hard time bringing me along for the ride, even though I’ve already bought my ticket.

AMERICAN VAMPIRE #16—The Ghost War ramps up for the home stretch and it looks like it’s going to be, as ever, a bloodbath. All respect to everyone nominated, but Albuquerque not pulling a Best Penciller Eisner nomination this year is patently ridiculous. Cracking this book open every month, I always get the sensation that he’s spoiling us. It just should not look this good, month after month. And the slow burn on the relationship between Sweet and Pearl remains the most compelling aspect of the book for me, nudged forward ever so slightly by the former’s reaction to Henry talking about sleeping next to her. Really looking forward to what I imagine will be the conclusion next month, it’s going to hit pretty hard from Page One.

DETECTIVE COMICS #878—Snyder and Jock bring their second arc to a close and it’s pretty much perfect, tight and right and everything that you could want from a Batman OR a Dick Grayson story and, while they’re at it, they go ahead and perform that alchemical magic of words+pictures right out there where you can see it, like a magician who explains the trick while he’s doing it, but then hits that last sleight of hand at the end to still make everybody gasp. That last page of Dick jumping, locking in with the preceding panel, and the first page of this issue, and all the way back to the first time he met Sonia two months back, the content of the text, the anatomic symphony of just Jock . . . really, really an amazing thing. To say nothing of those final two pages. I wish Jock could alternate arcs or done-in-ones with Capullo here, post-relaunch, if he’s going to need a pinchhitter. The bar is so high at this point, they’re really going to have to stop serving absinthe.

BEST OF WEEK: BATMAN INCORPORATED #7—I was really interested to see how Morrison was going to follow up last issue, which is easily my favorite single released here in the first half of the year. It turns out the answer was to take it to the rez. This done-in-one focuses on Man of Bats, the doctor turned vigilante who’s returned to his Native American roots in order to do good on a grassroots level. There is so much to like about this issue, really memorable beats and lines on pretty much every single page. Rather than go through and list each one, I’ll say that right at this moment my favorite two things about this comic are the way that Morrison leads us along with this guy, teasing our expectations to think that maybe he really is just a lunatic straight out of the Frank Miller Academy, but then the trap springs and we’re all of a sudden heartsick and all Is This The End For Man of Bats? with maybe only a page or two left before it’s all over and our hearts up in our throats. The fact that we already care so much speaks to the hyperdense character work Morrison is able to lay down in just a few pages, a master class in creating reader empathy. Another kernel of perfection is Bruce’s entrance, his opening line. It totally has the effect on the reader that it does on Little Raven, while also being perfect characterization. He’s always just out of sight, watching. Knows all. We were already enjoying the hell out of simply The Man of Bats & Little Raven Power Hour and then Bruce Wayne walks out of the dark and now even the shadows are crackling with excitement.

And that Chris Burnham. What a force. My favorite new artist, DC really made a find with this guy. Really really hope that he’s on board for the duration, no more fill-ins, just 13 more glorious issues of Morrison & Burnham, all the Dynamic Duo we need for 2012. Man, I am going to be just a caricature when that last issue of LEVIATHAN comes out.