Wednesday, November 30, 2011


FANTASTIC FOUR #600—BEST OF WEEK by a light year. It isn’t even fair. What a monster. Everything has been building to this, and Hickman and company start ripping it up right out of the gate. Namor hits on Sue at the bottom of Page Five, even. So much going on! Hickman’s done a masterful job choreographing all of these elements into this crescendo. The Kree armada cues up extinction to get at the Inhumans/Black Bolt’s other wives, causing Annihilus to accelerate his plans and invade the Baxter Building, which triggers the kids jumping the top three floors to the moon, all of which amounting to payoff on months of set-up to bring Peter Parker racing right into the crosshairs of a perfect returning line from Johnny “you never saw my body” Storm. And the value of this book is incredible. Particularly going by current Marvel standards. I mean, this 96-page behemoth should retail for $19.99 at the typical page rate. The opening Epting chapter is 28 pages long with only a lone ad and is, all by itself, better than anything else this week. The Johnny catch-up is a beastly 48 pages, again with only a single double-page ad that completely flattened me on the first readthrough, because I hit the text on the first page without scoping out the second and thought that Hickman had written some Completely Fucking Insane Thing about some kind of superhero reality show with a protagonist named Kirby, and there was another bit about tree removal and it was just completely destroying me until I realized that it was a perfectly-placed ad for the video game character and had nothing to do with getting all meta-crazy on the King.

But back to the narrative, there’s a concern about Johnny and those worms. So, he DID die, he’s just been resurrected several times. Of course. Not cheating at all. This leads into a pretty great Negative Zone riff on The Great Escape by way of Gladiator and paves the way for a pretty ridiculous status quo for Johnny, going forward. Then Ming Doyle draws a real pretty seven-page piece with Black Bolt and Medusa getting their shit together after and amidst all of this five brides nonsense. This gives way to six pages of Yu laying some further foundation for whatever they’ve been building up with Galactus for a while now. Old Hickman is a fan of the heat death, and no two ways about it. The huge surprise of this issue is Farel Dalrymple and Jose Villarrubia dropping the serious indie business on the final seven-page story starring Franklin and Leech. The art really emphasizes the wonderment of the young protagonists, the way they see the already-fantastic 616. Sign me up for the adventures of Hyperstorm & Kid Incredible just any old Wednesday, now. But who’s the white-out man? Morrison’s got me conditioned to expect Hickman at that point, but could it be future Franklin? Or Nathaniel? It looks like that one will play itself out, eventually. So much gets both resolved and set up in this gargantuan tome. 2012 is going to be a really, really good time to be a Fantastic Four fan. And I could go on and on, get all symphonic about it, but last week’s holiday means I’m writing this on the next Wednesday night and FF #12 is waiting . . .

SECRET AVENGERS #19—This one lives up to the high, high marks set by Aja’s outing last month. Lark/Gaudiano/Villarrubia are hosses. And Ellis is still such a razor-sharp bastard. Such a treat, having him do these. Every single beat is perfectly choreographed, every line stretched for maximum impact at minimum verbosity. This has got to be the leanest, most satisfying twenty-page comic on the rack. Ellis is throwing down a master class in done-in-ones, very much worth the cover price every single time.


THE MIGHTY THOR #8—Mmmm, I hate to say it, but I’m suddenly considering dropping the Fraction run. And it’s been pretty great, so far. But this is a poor follow to FEAR ITSELF, not a very interesting new status quo, and who told Laura Martin she could have some time off? Insane difference between this and what we were getting with Coipel. I want to say Hollingsworth was coloring Ferry last before they all jumped over here to make way for Gillen’s journey? D’Armata, not doing it for me. This is a bad situation, folks, I don’t want to bail out on Fraction Thor, but at $4 a pop/forevah&evah, they’ve got one more shot to change my mind.

THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #510—This, on the other hand, managed to keep me pretty engaged through the FI dismount. I am a little tired of Fraction keeping the alcoholism so much at the forefront, but I guess when you have a recovering (-ed, you say?) addict writing a multi-year IRON MAN run, that’s pretty much going to go with the territory. #500 was stellar, but I hope we’re not going to burn pages in recovery every other month. Maybe at some point we’ll learn the difference between not drinking and staying sober. I never seem to be able to hit either one of those on Wednesday nights.

KICK-ASS 2 #5—Yeah, I’m pretty much otherwise done with Millar, but he’s still turning in really entertaining work here, running the initial premise down to the inevitable glorious, bloody and completely over-the-top conclusion. I’m not sure there’s enough room for Vaughan and company to do a sequel that’s as much better than this as their first movie was than the original mini-series, but if they just manage to pull off a movie that’s at least as good as this, it will be quite the damn ride.

THE UNWRITTEN #31.5—I wouldn’t mind this going apparently biweekly at all if I hadn’t just seen 28-30 in the quarter-bin at Half Price this morning. That smarts! This thing, though, a serious jam. If you’ve got to bench Gross, then Kaluta, Rick Geary, and Talbot are a mighty fine pickup. Serious material here, Carey’s delivering the deep goods, all of a sudden, very much coming across as dropping origins, then about-facing on the last page and promising maybe we’ll get into that next month. This reminds me that this series used to drop the serious non-Tommy issues in between arcs, which I guess we’re suddenly going to get concurrent with the proper book. Judging from this first month out, it should be quite a ride.

FLASH #3—This one continues to be one of the stars of the reboot, nothing more or less than two very talented creators telling a great story with a great character. Manapul continues to nudge the form every chance he gets, always delivering the kind of kinetic shots that this book lives or dies by. Great work. Bummer ending, though. They shot him in the head! How’s he gonna get out of that one, Manuel?

SUPERMAN #3—Mm, I’ve got to call bullshit on this one. The first five pages just straight recap the first three issues of ACTION and the first two issues of this. Well, there’s one page in there that’s the bridge between the two, but it’s not exactly riveting to have Titano’s post-reboot existence confirmed. A Max Fleischer name-drop does not an entire page justify. A full 25% of the book is recap, thinly veiled as some schmuck’s not-that-fair-or-balanced take on Superman, by way of J. Jonah Jameson. And poor Nicola Scott must have picked this one up at the last minute, a few of these pages are not representative of her ability. The 80s writing style was a curiosity for me the first couple of go-rounds, now I’m not sure I’m even going to hang out for this arc.

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #3—This one’s coalescing for me. Which might just mean Constantine was in it for more than two pages, this time. The art is still gorgeous. I really need to make that old SHADE run happen for myself, pretty sure I’d be much more into this if I was down with the old Racman. It was on the bubble, but I can definitely hang on through the opening arc, at least.

ALL-STAR WESTERN #3—Huh. And now this one suddenly seems to have worn out its welcome, lost its charm. Don’t know if Moritat was just a little bit more rushed or I’ve got my fill of Hex for the season or just wasn’t drunk enough or what, but this issue fell a bit short, wasn’t nearly as magnificent as the first two. Too, I could give a shit about El Diablo, Bernet art or not, so maybe that was a problem. This definitely doesn’t seem like a title that DC should be pressing the pricepoint on. Hope we get the mojo back next month, podnuh.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


BATMAN #3—So beautiful. For me, pretty much a perfect comic book. This one continues to deliver devastating material on every level. Snyder’s words are still razor-sharp and Capullo/Glapion continue to imbue Gotham with a vibrance and depth of character that I haven’t seen in some time. Capullo, in particular, guy is just a master draftsman firing on all levels, the choices he makes. Like that one super-skinny vertical panel on the left to set up the larger shot of Batman in the hangglider, stuff that seems so obvious after it’s done because it works so well but that took a truly gifted mind to pull up out of a blank page. Just an absurd level of quality.BEST OF WEEK

JUSTICE LEAGUE #3—The script finally caught up with the art on this one, a rollicking ride. I dug the tone of Johns’s Wonder Woman, just barely a variation of various other takes we’ve seen, but it dialed me right in to the character in that opening scene. Less so, Superman maiming the gang of parademons. That business rang false. Geoff Johns, do not impose your crazy bloodlust on the rebooted Man of Steel, there is simply no need for such a thing. It was a slow start, but this one’s gelling into the great big dumb fun team book that I was expecting. And the backmatter was great fun, I was actually pissed when I finished the foreword and turned the page to find out that was it, I was all on-board with David Graves’ Secret History of Atlantis. Oh, and everybody else hears John DiMaggio’s voice when Aquaman talks, right? God, I’m going to miss that show. Outrageous!

WONDER WOMAN #3—This is another fantastic issue. DC really goes thermonuclear on the third week, these three books are ridiculous. I don’t know if I’m just acclimated to the vibe or what, but this is one of the first Azzarello reads where I didn’t feel like I had to work, crank my comprehension up a little bit to fully acclimate myself with the narrative. And Chiang is straight A-list, turning in some serious pages. That two-page shot of her lighting the fires was gorgeous. I hope whoever they get to fill in is up to the challenge. Tough gig, there. Hell of a week to be a Wonder Woman fan.

BUTCHER BAKER CANDLESTICKMAKER #5—After the total WTF? ending last month, Ennis had a lot of heavy lifting to do to bring us in line and up to speed with the Butcher we know, love, and fear. The fact that he does so entirely through postmortem epistolary form is a testament to his jawdropping facility as a writer. Making your reader weep with only the dead woman’s last journal entry is just a hell of a trick. Of course, Darick Robertson delivers spot-on character work as well, giving us every line of horror on Butcher’s face, mirroring our own, we’re all reading the same words. Hah, Robertson probably just filmed himself reading the script and drew that. This is quite likely the best single Ennis issue I’ve ever read. Top drawer work. Should be quite the final burst next month.

MORNING GLORIES #14—Well, I’ve finally found someone more insane about the L O S T than I am/was, as Nick Spencer pulls a slice out of the old Lindelof textbook on chronology and gives us the second half of what went down last issue. Which is cool enough, but he also makes the unfortunate mistake of carrying over the really annoying bit about repeating what’s already come before, which drove me crazy when it was like twenty (fine, twenty-three) seconds in a forty-two minute episode, but it’s much more egregious when it’s two entire pages out of a twenty-two page book. Not the kind of pacing/content that makes me happy. Still, Eisma’s art remains sharp and carries the story well.

X-FACTOR #227—Feels like I’ve been saying this for a few months now, but Best Recap Page Ever. That business put me down. Just priceless. The tradewaiters have no idea what they’re missing. Another sharp script by David that winks at the reader quite a few times but somehow never suffers for it, because it’s just jam-packed with that much wit. Kirk remains a welcome addition. And wow, trapdoor into the long-teased wedding night. Already can’t wait for next issue.

FEAR ITSELF #7.3—I’m conflicted because on one hand, I think that I’ve enjoyed at least the first two of these three epilogue issues as single-issue experiences more than I did the main title. That’s probably got something to do with expectations. With the proper book, I was expecting earth-shattering momentous events erupting out of every page turn, or at least at the end of every issue. With these epilogues, I was looking for character-defining codas that resolved the core Avenger trinity’s arcs. But really, at the end of the day, didn’t these epilogues each just undo an aspect of the Big Wow that took place in the main title? SPOILER WARNING: Stop reading and hop on down to Brubaker’s CAP now, if you want to remain fresh for plot developments in FEAR ITSELF #1-7.3. Brubaker unkilled Bucky (just like he did with Steve a couple of years ago), Fraction sowed the seeds for Thor’s inevitable return, and then over here he resurrects Paris. Which really felt like the cheapest move of all. I can understand why they went the way they did with the first two, but this one was malarkey. Not that I’ve got anything against gay Paree, but they completely minimize the preceding story by just resetting everything the month after the “final” issue. And I didn’t really buy either of these conversations. Why did Odin bother restoring Paris? Stark would have to make quite a sale to make that happen, which I would have been interested to see, Fraction writing him with the snappy-snap trying to talk old One-Eye into it, but he didn’t even begin to go down that route. And the big inversion, making it to the end of the issue only to discover that the conversation between Tony and Duvall should be read differently than we were reading it on the first pass, well, all it really does is let the wind out of the sails of that entire half of the issue. I’m running out of steam on Marvel twenty-page $4 singles pretty hard. Starting to wish Fraction and Bru would just call it a day and let me off the hook. Because I can’t stop myself!

CAPTAIN AMERICA #4—This one flies right by but is certainly pretty to look at. I’m not sure I see the point of those pages where Steve doesn’t realize what’s going on. Seems like wasted time, and yet again, I got no patience for that in a $4 twenty-pager. It’s been a long haul with Brubaker, but this one’s on the bubble. Unless they bring in Alan Davis after this arc, or something.

AVENGERS #19—Yet another round of Who’s Going To Be On The Team?, a game that’s been going on so long both here and across the street over in various iterations of a certain league championing justice that it’s practically a trope by now and pretty much expected every three or four years. Bendis does better with it than most. I loved the panel of Logan and Spidey deciding not to go out there. As well as the beat between Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Ororo. The rooftop recruitment leading in to the Storm reveal would have been a lot cooler if they hadn’t announced it in San Diego, I mean, how many extra units did they really think that was going to move? One hiccup, Cap mentions Thor by name not once but twice, losing old Goldilocks given as a principal reason that he’s trolling for new recruits. But isn’t the whole new deal with Fraction’s Thor that there’s always been Tanarus? No one except Loki remembers or misses Thor? Tanarus has always been an Avenger, saved the world many times, etc, etc? It’s like Bendis didn’t get the memo. And you could argue that this story takes place before the reboot in FEAR ITSELF #7.2, but it seems a bit wonky to set anything with the latest greatest brand (SHATTERED HEROES) before the epilogue to the last thing. Even weirder, because I think Fraction and Bendis are like Portland buddies, share family dinners and so forth. It does not compute. Anyway, Acuña blows it up on art, beautiful work. And very cool to get Daisy Johnson dropped back into the mix out of nowhere, glad to check back in with her after SECRET WARRIORS, though I thought Hickman had Fury declare that she was irreconcilably broken? Maybe Bendis has a plan.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


FEAR ITSELF #7.2—This one pretty much possesses me from the first page. Opening line’s a perfect hook and the art is beautiful. The tone of the story is different than I’ve seen from Fraction, much more of a Gaiman-our-stories-and-dreams-define-us kind of thing. I guess everyone who cares probably already picked this up, but Marvel might should have let folks know that this is no bullshit cashgrab epilogue but actually a pretty crucial chapter in Fraction’s THOR run, absolutely essential because it debuts the new premise, going forward. It’s certainly a bizarre maneuver, but we’ll see where it goes. Until THOR 2 hits the screen, I’m pretty sure ol’ Goldilocks will be back in place by then. With a new #1!!!!

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #631—Fie on serious recap pages! Glad I read Fraction first. That advice probably should have made the serious recap page. What a great set-up, Loki conspiring to kill Tanarus with the reader kind of on-board, after all these years. Take that God of Thunder out, little man! I’m pretty sure “forgot” on page 3, panel 3 should be “forgotten.” Hilarious line, “I also know what memes ARE. It’s a catchy idea.” That set-up somehow makes Loki dropping “BFF” later on inoffensive, no small trick. And absolutely crushing last page, I kind of just want to stop reading this series right here, just because it’s the perfect beat to end on, you without question cannot get better than cycling back to Simonson’s first page. Gillen has done first-rate storytelling on his entire run, here.

THE NEW AVENGERS #18—The execution of this is tight and right, I mean, Bendis makes the term “professional” seem like a gaping understatement, has been batting the industry around like a piñata for years now. I do question him heading right back to the well with this Dark Avengers malarkey, however. We just did this. Like a year and a half ago. This kind of thing would have been a lot more effective if he’d let Norman rot for longer than like a year, reader-time, and the whole Dark Avenger period had just a few more years to get all freshened up with that warm nostalgic glow. I passed on the DA series when it was coming out and don’t care for it getting shoehorned into this title that I’ve been enjoying up until now. Not that I’m not still enjoying it, but do you see? If Bendis/Marvel put out DARK AVENGERS volume 2 #1 for three dollars and ninety-nine cents, I would not buy a ticket on that train and kind of resent it docking in here at this particular station.

MARVEL POINT ONE #.1(or something, I guess?)—This is a pretty solid anthology by a whole gang of Marvel’s A-list guys, as well as other fellas who step up to the plate real well. With the exception of Jeph Loeb. Way to completely kill the momentum of a double-page splash Phoenix manifestation planet-razing by having Nova say “epic fail.” It’s Marvel Comics, not fucking Attack of the Show. So terrible. But there are some other interesting bits in here. Lapham/de la Torre’s AoA series actually looks worth trying out, interesting dynamic with that cast of characters. And I could give a shit about the Scarlet Spider but found the short a decent read. Quite liked Van Lente/Larroca’s Yin & Yang. And they certainly sequenced this right, ramp up with Fraction/Dodson’s second short lead-in to their DEFENDERS channeling plenty of that old Gerber crazy followed by Bendis and Hitch absolutely fucking it up with some of the trusty old Avengers Ultron madness. All framed by an intriguing sequence by Brubaker/Pulido. A pretty well-put-together little sampler, this.

THE UNWRITTEN #31—Well, yes, our little wizard is all grown up. Tommy Taylor goes on the offensive, much to the disconsternation of Lizzie Hexam. As ever, the multimedia page was the best one of the entire issue. I would be so all over an actual Tommy Taylor and the _________ novel ghost-written by Carey.

FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. #3—This one really comes into its own as the squad has to battle The Titans of Monster Planet. Lemire delivers a rocking pulp plot, but it’s really Alberto Ponticelli’s scratchy linework that’s the star of this show.

DEMON KNIGHTS #3—I’m kind of waning on this one. It’s not terrible, but isn’t doing a great job of dialing me into the characters. Cornell is certainly trying to blow Johns’s skirt up with the serious mayhem, gore, and violence, though. I was just making it to the end of the issue saying to myself, Well, the only crazy thing was that priest getting his face all melted off and dragged to Hell, which, you know, a fine baseline, but then we get the plucky young heroine decapitated on the last page. Making it happen.

GREEN LANTERN #3—Man, I didn’t think that Geoff Johns could heart anybody bigger than Hal or Barry, but it looks like ol’ Sinestro has been wearing the one ring to rule them all this entire time. Really digging the former Green Lantern of Space Sector 1417 taking the lead of this book and making it happen on good old 2814. Very much hoping he doesn’t get shuffled off to the side after the first arc. Mahnke and friends continue to deliver very sharp and clean lines for what feels like ten years running now, even though it’s probably been more like three.

BATWOMAN #3—Again, Williams shows up with a comic book that it’s almost unfair to compare to any other, just because it’s so out of everybody else’s league. He’s playing in a different sandbox, my friends! Consistently turning in the most engaging fight scenes that I can remember running across in some time (Quitely and Stewart a little while back in BATMAN & ROBIN being the only ones who even come close), that trick of slashing time with illuminated frames within the same panel, such a stylistic marvel. It’s downright unnerving how he’ll draw/color Kate and Betty in different styles within the same panel, dude’s just spitting fire on top his game. BEST OF WEEK, no problem.

BATMAN & ROBIN #3—Tomasi/Gleason go six for six in their overall run, a hat trick on this latest iteration. I’m really enjoying this title’s emphasis on the new father/son dynamic that’s suddenly in effect, tons of great bits sprinkled throughout. Does the chess game at the top indicate that Bruce was manipulating Damian into disobeying him and serving as live bait? Afraid that Tomasi got the transmission garbled on that last panel as Damian drove off, what Alfred really said was, “I shan’t, Master Damian. I shan’t.” With this book consistently delivering gripping tales of the family dynamic duo, Morrison’s homestretch set to kick off here any time now, rumors of Daniel not crapping all over DETECTIVE, and Snyder/Capullo/Glapion absolutely murdering the eponymous title, to say nothing of J.H.III up above, this franchise has rarely, if ever, been in such good shape.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


ACTION COMICS #3—All right, this one feels perfect all of a sudden, Morrison sliding into place and finally igniting the afterburners. Maybe it was just the opening scene-shift to Krypton with Ha, but from the top of the first page, this book was suddenly everything that I’ve been wanting it to be. Though Clark’s last page has got to be the most jarring I Give Up montage of all time. What, wait, really? That was it? You’re done? Because they threw a brick and a bottle at you? The best jarring cut was from Clark’s “Duly charmed,” (easily my favorite panel of these three issues) to the woman telling him the ghost of a white dog is watching over him. Spooky. And getting back to that white dog, does the conversation between the dog and Jor-El on Page Three indicate that Krypto was like Governor of Krypton or something? I mean, from the way that pooch is talking, he clearly outranks Jor-El and straight up comes across as the leader of the planet. The dog. From the mind of Grant Morrison! BEST OF WEEK.

OMAC #3—This is nothing less than more Kirby krackle kindling and seething up out of every page. I love that DC is putting this thing out there, surely a great offense or possibly eye-opening experience to tykes reared on the pencilers of the modern age. Maybe this will get old for me, but it’s going to take a while. Didio and Giffen continue to do a masterful job at channeling the King, more the vibe of his 60s Marvel stuff than, you know the actual series or Era of Kirby that provides this thing’s source material, but it makes no nevah mind to me. SMASH!

ANIMAL MAN #3—Yeah, and Lemire and Foreman continue to absolutely kick ass and tear it up on one of the relaunch’s breakout hits, the truly horrific latest take on the Baker family. Best panel was Mom hitting the guy with the car, scored by Mullet Cliff’s “Awesome!” Because that’s exactly how it would happen. When you’ve managed verisimilitude during the suburban mom’s sideswiping the extradimensional entity from the Red with her Prias or what have you, you done real good.

SWAMP THING #3—Snyder cranks this one up a bit, and a good thing, too, because I haven’t been blown away by the story thus far. But the way he gets into it with that kid, nice creeping EC vibe that has always suited this title. Was all impressed with Paquette on this one, then shocked to make it to the end and discover that Victor Ibanez drew most of it. Nice job, editorial, no artistic disconnect for me, whatsoever, though, yeah, I can now totally go back and tell the difference. More great times. It’s good fun that this and ANIMAL MAN come out on the same day.

STORMWATCH #3—Is that Adam guy starting to really annoy anybody else? I think it’s maybe the facial hair. Or maybe just how he showed up out of nowhere and is all the boss of these guys, suddenly. Maybe that’s how Cornell wants us to feel. This is more planetary-scale authoritarian superhero widescreen. I’m not crazy in love with it, just such a water-down of Ellis/Hitch glory, forevermore, but feel like I can hang out with it for a while, if only because I trust Cornell’s long game.

AMERICAN VAMPIRE #20—Another real interesting grab-you-by-the-throat installment. Snyder keeps zigging instead of zagging. There’s no way that Hole In The Sky just took out that ur-American Vampire in the cave offscreen, right? Snyder did such a tremendous job of dialing us into that character via a tenish-page origin (don’t have it in front of me at the moment) that the last thing I expected when the present-day scene ended was for her to suddenly be out of commission. What’s most interesting is that this is as far back as he’s taken us, I mean, Skinner Sweet had been the oldest AV we’ve seen, but obviously either the Native American girl or Hole In The Sky are going to turn him. Which, seems like we’re going to need much more of an origin for the new vampire species than what we got in the first half of this issue, but I’m pretty sure Snyder knows that and’ll just keep doing what he’s doing. Jordi Bernet is a treasure, as ever.

THE BOYS #60—Jesus, Ennis. Love that he actually worked Logan’s catchphrase in there, too hilarious. And what, that’s supposed to be Rob Liefeld’s Nineties Attack Squad who burst in at the end? This book sometimes feels like a glorious mess of a trainwreck while still managing to convey that it’s anything but. That Ennis is one sharp tack.

KIRBY: GENESIS #4—(last week’s release, but I had to track down #3 in the meantime b/c it never showed up at my LCS, so here we go): This continues to be a delightful, insane romp through the fertile abundance of Kirbyspace, all the characters he created who didn’t grow up to keep the lights on at the Big Two or turn into cartoons or movies. Busiek does fine work with the difficult task of balancing out the lunatic concept of mashing all of these folks together, giving us little bits here and there to latch on to, producing the cumulative effect of just walking in blind to a new publishing house to jump on board with their latest Big Crossover Event. Who are all these people? What’s going on? If all isn’t revealed, at least enough is to keep you on the hook for what happens next. Wish we could get more Ross pages per month, but I’ll take whatever he turns in.

UNCANNY X-MEN #1—Pretty much what I expected here, quite a few great little character beats that are the lifeblood of this title, if not franchise. It’s a really good time to be a mutant fan. The only false note, if I can make myself care about or in any way respect Sinister, which, still having trouble with, but Dr. Nemesis’s dialogue came off as totally out of character. Meaning it wasn’t Warren Ellis about to castrate me with a spoon. Fucking hell, get on it, Gillen, make those words sing and cut, my son!

FEAR ITSELF #7.1—Ah, hahahhaha! This read as inadvertently hilarious for me, and I mean it in a good way. By far, my biggest gripe about this event was the way it just tossed Bucky to the lions after all the years of fine rehabilitative character work that Brubaker had done. And all the investment that readers made in him. Just to have it all ripped away. I mean, I don’t believe I was the only reader who finished #3 and had no idea that he was supposed to be Dead dead, because we’ve seen something like that happen and reverse itself so many times. Then, it seemed to take. But then Bru drops the other shoe here, to tremendous effect, Steve trying to beat the shit out of Fury definitely made me chuckle. I don’t know if I’m on board with a WINTER SOLDIER series, however. I’m sure it will be top-notch with Brubaker/Guice at the helm, but if it’s yet another $4 single, and I have no reason to believe it won’t be, I’m reaching my breaking point with Marvel shit I’m going to plunk that down for every four weeks. Or two. Spreading Brubaker out on three Cap titles makes sense from a financial and even creative standpoint, I guess, but it’s kind of a dick move to the readers who’ve been invested in his run on a monthly basis since the beginning (or #4, anyway, close enough).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


FF #11—This thing is a juggernaut, a biweekly Big Event unto itself, and nothing can stop it. Kitson lights these pages on fire and Hickman continues to steer the hypernarrative with the finesse and grace of a master craftsman. That one-two shot of the camera pulling out on Reed’s monologue for four panels followed by the double-page spread of the Marvel Universe A-listers is better than every single moment that happened in FEAR ITSELF, sorry, crew. With Morrison Batman on the bench, this thing is my favorite regular series by a mile*.

ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATE ULTIMATES #3—It was such a crowded damn week, I seriously considered leaving this $4 single on the racks, but man, glad I didn’t. Hickman continues to conjure the thunder we remember from the original Millar/Hitch run while making all the plot and character development seem organic, as opposed to the latest OMG,WTF? that Millar dreamed up. That last exchange between Thor and Tony was just about the best dialogue between two characters that I read all week long. I really really loved Tony’s line about the MP followed by the look Thor gave him, Ribic knocked that shit out of the part. It was perfect, felt so true. Which, no mean feat to accomplish in an exchange between the Norse God of Thunder and a genius billionaire in a flying warsuit of armor aboard a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier. It would be funny and silly if Ultimate Thor died next issue, from an Ultimate vs. 616 standpoint, though I’m confident that Hickman will find a way to make it break our hearts.

THE RED WING #4—This looked absolutely gorgeous, kudos to Nik Pattera and Rachel Rosenburg. And it was definitely a great concept with a lot of room in which to tell a story. However, I never felt like Hickman sent us the right codes in order to dial into the characters. I mean, obviously the whole father/son dynamic is a universal thing, but there wasn’t enough here to make it seem unique or worth exploring in this admittedly unique context. These people were ciphers. I didn’t care when they died, other than how freaking cool it looked. Certainly not a waste of money, paper, or time, but I walk away from these four issues with a greater degree of graphic titillation than satisfaction.

SECRET AVENGERS #18—Now, this is the real deal, right here. Ellis has been turning in the serious business from page one of #16, but in Aja, editorial finally brings in somebody who can elevate the script, not merely hang on for dear life. Aja is the perfect choice for an issue featuring Shang Chi kung fu-ing the hell out of goons in a space station. A couple of those multi-gravity spreads are straight Escher, as jawdrop cool as anything I can remember running across lately. I seem to recall Ellis complaining online a few months ago about it being hard to dial into the mindset required to generate these scripts, but it doesn’t show, very much rocking the GLOBAL FREQUENCY hyper-espionage done-in-one greatness, but somehow even more streamlined, the adventures of Steve Rogers & Sharon Carter and their crack squad of secret superheroes, alone against the fringe science of the insidious Shadow Council. And improbably, the last two panels elevate the entire thing up into the stratosphere, while simultaneously bringing us back down to Earth and tying up the entire narrative in a neat bow. While winking at the reader. Perfection. I really loved FF, but this right here has got to be BEST OF WEEK.

CAPTAIN SWING & THE ELECTRICAL PIRATES OF CINDERY ISLAND #4—It’s been quite some time since #3 came out, but a quick jog back through and I was up to speed on Ellis’s update on the Spring-Heeled Jack legend by way of steampunk humanist electrical sky pirate utopia. Which reads quite a bit differently two months into the Occupy movement, as opposed to two years ahead of it. That ol' Ellis can’t shut his inner futurist off even if he turns the dial back to 1830, it seems. There are no great surprises or swerves here, this one pretty much does everything that it’s supposed to, but all it really has to give you is enough shots of that ship getting rowed through the clouds by electrical oars. I guess I didn’t see that kiss coming. Make that “steampunk humanist electrical sky pirate utopia romance”. Great fun, and if this is indeed Ellis’s final Avatar book, certainly a finish worthy of what’s come before.

WOLVERINE $ THE X-MEN #1—Ah, that’s a Freudian typo right there, we’re going to leave it. This was one of two Marvel $4 books I had to leave on the rack. Thanks for the loaner, Tommy! Not having bought it, I was totally conflicted reading it, because I’m all about the Bachalo, especially on colors, and Aaron kills it, as well, every beat, from Logan and Chuck’s opening stroll to the inevitable and perfectly telegraphed final page. As jaded as reading about and loving these merry mutants for 23 years has made me, I got totally punched in the gut when I hit that double-page spread and he says the name of the school. So good. Quite an ensemble we have here, as illustrated by that nifty little chart in the appendix. Don’t really see how I can be passing this one up every month. Dammit, Marvel! Of course, nothing beats the course schedule, too too great. The writer of SCALPED creating a class taught by Kentucky’s own Samuel J. Guthrie all about comic books, ranging from Kirby to Morrison, is an absolute brainmelt mindfuck.

HULK #1—Ha ha, beards. Who’s writing this, again? This is an interesting pilot, starting Hulk out in a new place and making Banner pretty much Dr. Moreau, but I think I’ll be all right giving this the miss. Though how has Jeff Parker already racked up two trades? Feel like a total asshole for letting those get by me.

THE MIGHTY THOR #7—It’s kind of a strange move to drop the prequel the week after the climax of the entire event, but after their first arc, I’m not going to miss anything by Fraction/Perry. And, yeah, it’s great, timeless, the entire First War of the Serpent in one issue, plus we see Odin sacrifice his eye for wisdom. This event really has generated the best tie-ins I’ve ever encountered.

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #630—Ha, Siri? This one seems to have a better command of the English language. Great bit about Where Volstagg Was, so much shit was going down, I definitely forgot to wonder. And perfect, “a boar stuffed with pigeons stuffed with jam.” I’m a sucker for UNCANNY #153esque story-time issues** and this is no exception. You’ve got to love that shot of silly Odin shushing the reader with one finger over his mouth. And “Death to Nazis!” Another great little entry in the canon of stories-about-the-greatness-of-stories (colloquially known as the Gaiman Zone), great fun and crushing at the same time.

Have you noticed that Marvel is jamming out everything they can bi-weekly now in a bid to snatch up more market share? This and FF and UNCANNY X-FORCE for a little while there, as well as AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, have all been cranking off the presses just as fast as they can. What woebegone wallets may come!

SPACEMAN #1—Who can turn down a brand new #1 by the entire team of 100 BULLETS for the price of a mere dollar bill? A less discerning consumer than I, Wednesday night faithful! We already got a ten-page slice a few months back on that STRANGE ADVENTURES one-shot and are thrown right into the middle of it, here. It usually bothers me when artists sign pages in-book, but every single time Risso does it, you’re just like, Yeah, you’re the one. Azzarello, as ever, certainly makes you work for it, inventing an entire dialect that feels authentic, futuristic but plausible. Say? Patricia Mulvihill really is one of the best in the business, such a distinctive style. I’m . . . not exactly sure what happened at the end. After multiple passes. Dude’s on Earth doing a scavenging job, takes a drop of some drug, then we cut back to Mars and he stabilizes the greenhouse pressure before the lights start popping, then there’s popping back on Earth and the ship blows up, and then he’s suddenly rescued the Pitt-Jolie kid analogue? Who turns out to be all sinister? I think is what happened? These folks do not make comic books for stupid people.

FLASH #2—Those augmented cognition pages are brilliant. Fine, fine example of stretching the medium, presenting a story as only comics can. The Quitely We3 panels, right on down to the washed-out colors, just spectacular work. Johns/Manapul nailed it so hard out of the gate last year on the new #1, I was bummed that the relaunch pulled the rug out from under them, but Manapul/Buccellato are cruising along faster than ever. Everything I want from a Flash book, right here.

SUPERMAN #2—This is another good-looking issue, Merino again steps up to the plate and executes what’s got to be one of the most frightening gigs in mainstream comics. And I missed Buccellato’s name in the credit box last month, never heard of the guy, suddenly he’s coloring SUPERMAN and FLASH and co-writing the latter. Not bad, fella! This isn’t like the most amazing run of the character that I’ve come across, but it’s rock-solid. Feels kind of like reading a little-known 80s arc, guess that’s when Perez crystallized his writing style. Particularly the way Superman/Lois beat the bad guy, made me feel like a little kid again. In a good way. Totally on board with this arc, but likely bailing when Creative does, sorry Giffen/Jurgens.

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #2—This story still feels a bit slight and quite decompressed***. The combination of Mikel Janin and Ulises Arreola is enough to keep me around for a while, though. For a book with “dark” in the title, these are some lush pages. Wish Milligan would get it moving, though. It might be better if we hadn’t seen the Enchantress go crazy like three times in as many years. Give us something new! You are unshackled from the chains of continuity! Methinks I need to get a bit more serious about tracking down Milligan/Bachalo’s original SHADE run in the bargain bins.

ALL-STAR WESTERN #2—Another excellent slice of comics from these boys, right here. Yeah, if you can only get twenty pages out of Moritat, you probably want to sign up Jordi Bernet for a backup. It really is ingenious for Gray/Palmiotti to embed their guy in Ur-Gotham, steep the Hex fun up in all that dynastic craziness that Snyder and friends just started rolling over in GATES OF GOTHAM a little while back. To the point that it’s like they used math, a super quantum computer to spit out the optimum way to sell a relaunched JONAH HEX to readers without artistically compromising what’s come before. That double-page spread followed by the pin-up of Hex is the business. Just the colors of the sky, alone. Easily one of the coolest books resulting from the relaunch shakeup.

*Except, I guess, for maybe CASANOVA, though that thing is such a terror unto itself, it doesn’t seem right or maybe fair comparing it to anything else, like THE WIRE and all the other TV shows.

**Walter dropping the noir business on FRINGE last season being a recent standout.

***only two pages of Constantine again? Really? Not nearly as offensive until you start counting the ones with Dove on them, I mean, seriously.