Thursday, December 8, 2011


ACTION COMICS #4—There are those who complain and kvetch that Morrison has followed up his absolutely mind-blowing ALL-STAR SUPERMAN with a rebooted younger character who’s much more of a pugilistic Socialist type of fella than the fair and wise icon who shows us all how to do what’s right by example. And I see where they’re coming from. The first couple of issues were pretty jarring for me, as well. But in this issue, when confronted with a giant tank-robot rampaging through the streets of Metropolis, our brash protagonist does not, cannot, fly circles around him or blast him with heat vision or super-breath or any of the dozens of other powers that have blossomed out of his seven decades of continuity. All he’s got is the old “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound” powers set. So, what does our boy do? He picks up a WGBS news truck and chunks it at the tank. It was just a couple of panels at the top of the page, not even laid out to be that big of a deal, but in a single action, it perfectly encapsulates how far back Morrison has dialed the character and I, for one, can’t wait to see what the bruiser does next in the name of what he perceives to be the American Way. Occupy Metropolis.

O.M.A.C. #4—This one might be the best issue yet, a simple lesson in interdependence. Giffen continues to channel the raw Kirby dynamic and Didio’s shutting down his detractors with a script that’s a perfect tonal complement. Great fun. Looking forward to the brawl next month.

ANIMAL MAN #4 & SWAMP THING #4—We can totally get by with a single review here as, with symphonic precision, Snyder & Lemire drop the revelations and make explicit what anybody who’s been reading these two back-to-back since the first week of September should have been suspecting. These guys are fighting different fronts of the same battle. I mean, Red and Green? These two writers have been playing games, weaving this together since the start, we’ve got the Parliament of Limbs in ANIMAL MAN and the Parliament of Trees over in SWAMP THING, but what’s really got me scratching my head is how Snyder is going to thread in the Parliament of Owls over in Capullo’s Gotham. Because it isn’t like that’s a coincidence, hey ya? Overall, just a really cool effect, knocking these back in singles on the front lines, seeing the threads start to tighten up, everything coming together. Great news to hear that Pugh’s coming back over to draw or paint the Bakers, that dude is the real deal. And, really, Foreman is a tough follow, they had to get somebody insane. Meanwhile, over in SWAMP THING, Marco Rudy does a beautiful job of pinchhitting for Yanick Paquette while he hunkers down and tries to devise new ways to outflank J.H. Williams III by means of flowing layout. He’s got his work cut out for him, but has certainly been rising to the challenge, thus far. Reading all of these books in one go, man, just so grateful. Head over heels for DC’s new first week.

STORMWATCH #4—All right, yeah, clearly old Adam One is not in it for the long haul. Which is fine with me. This was Midnighter’s issue, running point against The Attack of the Crazed Lost City. Weird reboot moment, him cupping Apollo’s face, “Do you trust me?” You’re married, guys! You were . . .

THE BOYS #61—I guess it’s a good thing that that seriously ominous cover didn’t take place within these pages? This is nothing less than another slab of homestretch goodness from Ennis and the lads. Hughie’s still bitching, the Butcher’s still cutting wise about stabbing people to death, and in the eleventh hour, we get The Sensational Character Find of 2011, Muzzeltov. Truly, one for the ages.

X-FACTOR #228—No follow-up on the wedding night cliffhanger, just right back over the edge with it, by way of a different path, L O S T-style. Curse you, David! Kirk and company continue to provide top-flight work as we get a confirmation about what we’ve been suspecting about Guido all along and the writer hawks some Minimates. I wonder what everybody knows so much about that won’t be in-book until #230, really pleased the spoilers haven’t made their way in this direction. Just two more months to go, I guess.

BEST OF WEEK: THE DEFENDERS #1—Even better than I dared hope for. I was honestly considering tradewaiting this instead of signing on for another $4 Marvel single, but I loved Fraction’s Dr. Strange short in the .1 thing, so figured I’d at least give the first issue a shot. So glad I did. This right here is the introduction of the Fraction Casanova Crazy into the 616. You heard it here first, True Believers! I get why he reins it in over there with Stark. Wish he’d brought this out a bit more over on UNCANNY (instead of just confining it to #512). But here, amidst this convergence of weird coincidence breaking through to end the world, this is the perfect place for Fraction to fan the freaky, and I have a feeling he’s barely getting started. The Dodsons and Oback provide a lunatic counterpoint with lush smooth lines that scream Mainstream Superhero and belie all the scratchy bizarre menace unfolding with every page. I like how Doctor Strange is kind of an egotistical, grad-student-banging piece of shit. I love Danny Rand reading MARVELMAN (I mean, the line of the week, hands down, is "The older I get, the more life seems to be the stupid, frustrating stuff that gets in the way of YOU and reading comics."). But my favorite part has to be the non-sequiter footers. After that initial jolt/blurb for #4 (which is a hilarious thing to do on the third page of your first issue), they start back in innocuously enough with the old tried-and-true CONTINUED ON AFTER NEXT PAGE and you just think, cool, channeling the 70s, yeah man, go, but then the bottom drops out with SHUT THE ENGINES DOWN and, my favorite, EVERYONE YOU LOVE DIES. Wha—? This is immediately one of my favorite Marvel titles, and you know they’re just scratching the surface. BRING ON THE MADNESS.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


TINY TITANS #46—Baltazar & Franco continue tearing it to pieces on this slow fifth week by folding The Protector from that old Keebler Anti-Drug New Teen Titans special back in the 80s just as ridiculously as he was in his first (and only?) appearance. Not to mention revealing the identity of the Mysterious New 52 Hooded Purple Lady! Definitely worth the price of admission. That shot of Talon sending all the bats and rocketpack penguins off is one for the ages.

FF #12—Wow, pretty serious departure here from what’s gone before, in terms of art. With the main title piggybacking off this numbering and dropping a #600 last week, this is suddenly the spinoff title featuring the gang of kids that Reed’s put together as a futurist think tank, an idea I’m all for. Going with Juan Bobillo seems slighty risky, particularly coming right off of Kitson, just because the former’s got so much of a scratchier, stylized, I-guess-for-want-of-a-better-label indie aesthetic going on. I, for one, loved it, but can see a bunch of Hitch/McNiven fans picking this up and dropping the title before lucky #13 comes out at the end of the year, figuring they’ll be getting their fill from the original FANTASTIC FOUR. That would be a terrible mistake, though, because Hickman’s got plenty going on here, most importantly breakout character Val Richards getting a little bit of elbow room to shine, now that she’s out from under the shadow of her family. And, yeah, Doom, Nathaniel, the last alternate Reed, this one has got it going on. I’ve never been so grateful for a title doubling down.

ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES #4—Hickman keeps the focus on Thor while just running riot through the mythos in a way that would never, ever fly back in the good old 616. SPOILER ALERT: But hey, that’s what this thing was built for, just to smash the toys to fucking bits, and Reed Richards incubating a population in a 900-year singularity and then using them to take over most of the world and straight up kill Asgard is definitely taking things as far as they need to be taken. Past the point, some might say. Month in, month out, one of the books I feel best about spending $4 on.

UNCANNY X-MEN #2—Gah, the renumbering’s still so annoying. Not my Uncanny! I first fell into this world in the summer of ’88, right when Sinister was ramping up Inferno and there were redheads and darkchildes to spare (darkchildren? feh…). And so it took a bit of hindsight for me to realize what a kind of stupid villain he was, was just too overwhelmed with trying to get a grasp of the mythos, back in the day. All of which to say, here, Gillen takes what’s always been a pretty weak antagonist and turns him into someone who might even be worthy of being the first Big Bad on a relaunch of this magnitude. He’s still got a grasp of the characters and their team dynamic (though it would be nice if Namor ever did something besides trying to talk his way into Emma’s corset). The best part might be that Gillen’s managed to hang on to Hope Summers, a character that he did a fine job making his own during that first year of GENERATION NEXT. Merry mutant mayhem for the new millennium!

FABLES #111—Willingham and company wrap this latest arc up to satisfying effect while dropping a serious cliffhanger that leaves the reader gasping for more.

BEST OF WEEK: SPACEMAN #2—You know I love me some Hickman, but the 100 BULLETS crew really kicks into gear here and easily blow everybody else out of the water. It’s just synergy, man, all of the elements of the medium perfectly complementing each other. These people have been at the top of their collective game for many years now, and that comes through on every page. They’re incapable of turning in anything less than riveting. I mean, Trish Mulvihill’s colors might be the best thing about this book, if you have to pick one thing. And Eduardo Risso drew it, you know. Ridiculous. This one’s really just getting started and already moving up on my list of most anticipated monthly reads.