Friday, February 14, 2014


BEST OF WEEK: UNCANNY AVENGERS #016 — Man, now this is just the real deal, right here. I don’t care how long it takes to come out in between issues, this series always feels like a massively big production, every issue an event in its own right. The three deaths from last issue are not as of yet undone and we get Thor beating the hell out of one of the Apocalypse Twins, always good fun. As stellar as the rest of the issue is, the last page of the book alone is enough to kick it up to BEST OF WEEK. Kirby as hell!

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #011.NOW — Haven’t been picking this up, but then Bendis went and x’d his books over and of course Sara Pichelli is brilliant. The line about nostalgia and the X-Men being “mad, selfish children who never learn from their mistakes” assumed a fairly meta- quality, I thought. As someone who hasn’t read a page of this since the first issue, I found it completely accessible and a well-done counterpoint to last week’s ALL-NEW NOW X-MEN .NOW. Looking forward to seeing Bendis slam these two teams together and glad I picked this one up to check in with these folks first.

INHUMANITY #002 — Sooooo, this was supposed to just be a Medusa one-shot but now it’s the ostensible second issue of this two-issue series before Fraction just bails to keep slamming out the creator-owned glory and then we start in with a NEW #1! with Soule & JoeMad next month. That is some editorial confusion more in line with what seems like is happening over across the street, there. Just taken on its own merits, this issue, let’s see, we’ve got the talented Nick Bradshaw and Todd Nauck both inking their own pencils and then also getting the help of two other inkers. This is all right. Not great. Fraction doesn’t really do much of a job selling us on why the Inhumans deserve this sudden push (other than Marvel Studios will probably never get the rights to X-MEN/FF/SPIDER-MAN back from Fox). Dude’s heart is not in it and it really shows. I mean, the last page of this is our previously titular protagonist in bed weeping for her lost husband and son. That’s an entire page of Medusa crying because she misses her dudes. What’s the take-away from that? I thought Fraction was supposed to be advocating for the whole empowered female protagonists deal with ODY-C and what not?

BLACK SCIENCE #3 — Remender & Scalera are really firing on all cylinders with this one, advancing the action forward a bit but providing even more entertainment via two four-page flashback sequences bookending the issue and setting us up with quick glimpses of our characters’ status quos immediately before Everything Went Wrong, which turns out to be a great trick, we’re already invested in the people at this point and the scenes unfold with a much greater degree of tension than they would have if they had just been the first eight pages of #1. Scalera & White continue to provide staggering vistas at the drop of a hat but the most wonderful thing about this issue is probably Remender coining the term “dimensionaut,” which I really kind of hate myself for not thinking of first but am certainly delighted to see employed to such tremendous effect here.

EAST OF WEST #09 — Man, Hickman and crew are really playing the long-game here as we have another issue with only five pages featuring our ostensdistracting at best but am resigned to it. This series almost surely makes a better read in trade when you can digest larger chunks of it in a single sitting but the singles are such pretty no-ads dramatic double-pages-of-white packages that I couldn’t quit now if I wanted to.
ible protagonist and the remainder of the book developing John Freeman, the crown prince of (I think it’s) the Union, the seventh nation of former slaves that was born out of all the chaos of the Civil War. As graphic-happy as Hickman is, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to include the map of the reconfigured former United States of America in at least issues that deal with nations and characters with whom we haven’t spent any time. This is all moderately compelling stuff, of course Dragotta keeps knocking it out of the park. I still find ALL of the italics and bold and italics/bold

SAGA #18 — All right, this one really really did it for me, brought everything together in a way that seemed completely natural and made me grateful to be along for the ride. We get a secret origin for Lying Cat, a reboot for Prince Robot IV, it turns out The Will isn’t really his name and he has a sister (her offhand comment about introducing him to his last girlfriend is a deft, dense, and otherwise lovely piece of single-line characterization), and then that last shot. Man. That last shot. I have made no secret of, while mainly enjoying this book for the most part thus far, completely not relating to everyone falling all over themselves proclaiming this the Greatest Book Ever in the History of the Industry but the way BKV negotiates that reveal on the last page combined with the glorious art that Fiona Staples has been delivering since #1, Page One suggests that the next phase of this title is going to be much much better than what has gone before and will probably have me as a member of the adoring masses, cheering louder than most of them. A really beautiful piece of work.

FABLES #137 — Young/old/wise Winter is a hell of an interesting character to just pop up here recently, Willingham has been really dialed in to her voice from the get-go and it shows. The line about checking all the worlds to make sure there’s no one stronger than Mommy just cut right into me. And things are really progressing along at an interesting clip with Rose’s Round Table, as well as with the not-that-slow-burn plot thread of Bigby’s potential restoration. The finale’s still a year out, but I’m already feeling the future-nostaglic tug, am really going to miss this one.

BATMAN AND ROBIN ANNUAL #2—Well, we all know how crushing last year’s effort was, and I will admit that I didn’t see how Tomasi and company would be able to pull it off, given that their lead character has been killed between now and then. Leave it to them to simply bring him back up off the bench with a flashback framing sequence so that we still get our dose of Damian goodness, even if most of the issue is all about the first Robin. I mean, the first page alone is an instant classic. This is all about Tusk, a villain with whom I’m unfamiliar (if this isn’t his first appearance, which it certainly feels like) and who has an immediate and serious grudge against our original Boy Wonder. Doug Mahnke delivers his usual top-shelf sequential work throughout. The story is perfectly satisfying when taken on its own merits. However, when held up against the pretty stunning glory of what has gone before in this title under Tomasi’s pen, it doesn’t just knock my lights out like I was hoping. There’s nothing wrong with it but it’s all a pretty standard boilerplate affair. Young Robin has a first night out with Batman, bristles under the fascist yoke of his mentor, disobeys orders, gets fired, proves himself, and is eventually accepted back into the fold. The other thing that I’m the least bit unclear about but fairly certain: did Damian go back and perform a stealth wetwork op on Tusk? That is certainly the implication from the resolution of the framing sequence but the reaction, or rather non-reaction, of Bruce, Dick, and Alfred lands a bit strangely. “Oh, he went back and killed Dick’s first nemesis, quietly disposed of the body, and left this trophy hidden up here above the ceiling. That vicious little maniac. That scamp. Oh, Damian!” I’m not sure, maybe I’m reading it wrong, but I don’t see an alternate take on it at all. All told, still better executed (pun intended) than most Batman stories, but Tomasi has me trained to settle for nothing less than four-and-a-half or five stars of white-hot brilliance pretty much every time out now.

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