Wednesday, May 28, 2014


ACTION COMICS #31 — I was a bit ambivalent about this going in because I hate it when multi-title events come in and derail books I’m really digging already, particularly when I don’t read the other books in the crossover. And I usually hate it when they bring back Doomsday, that actually immediately derailed Paul Cornell & Pete Woods’s greatness over there in the homestretch of this title’s first volume. On the other hand, I have been loving the Pak/Kuder action up until now. What we have here is an interesting take. I’ve already missed the great brawl in the one-shot that featured our guy embracing his New 52 Johns gory side and just straight tearing his antagonist apart, which I’m glad to skip, but here in the aftermath, he seems to be infected with the fella. I like that play on it. And it’s terrific to get Cameron Stewart in on a few pages. You know what, though? If he’s already done with his MULTIVERSITY pages, I would love to get him on this title alternating with Kuder, Stewart has the A-list talent that this title merits and doesn’t come off as much like a pinch-hitter the way Rafe Sandoval does in these pages. Every single page should be glorious, whether or not Brother Kuder is dropping the justice. Content-wise, it’s funny to hear Lois call Lana a True Believer. Can she say that? And it’s almost bizarre to have Gen. Lane and Irons refer to continuity from the Morrison/Morales run. I know that it’s the same title, but that really feels like a pocket of continuity that exists in its own bubble. No one can hang with it! All of that said, will be glad to see this all blown over next month and back to hopefully twenty pages by Kuder.

FUTURE’S END #2 — The best issue yet, focusing on Ollie’s funeral. It’s a really good thing I started watching ARROW, because bits like the Moira Queen Shelter for Homeless Youth or the appearance of “the mysterious Mr. Diggle” would have flown right by without me caring. Ha, now I’m even questioning Roy Harper’s on-panel appearance. Shouldn’t he have more of a chin and pouty scowl and be much more (almost freakishly) hairless? That shit is wrong. And where’s Thea?!? At any rate, Lemire pens an excellent eulogy for Ollie delivered via his old teammate Buddy Baker, Mister Terrific remains terrific (“Watch me trend” is a horrifying line that made me wince while also feeling awfully awfully true), and Firestorm straight melts down already. This New-52-Five-Years-Later Ronnie Raymond is a dick!

BATMAN ETERNAL #5 — Trevor McCarthy shows up to draw an occult-skewing tale that brings in Jim Corrigan and the Gentleman Ghost. And the Joker’s Daughter, about whom I give less than two shits. She doesn’t sink the issue all on her own, but this is the first one that feels like it’s coasting to me. Hopefully, we’ll ratchet it back up next week when we check in with some of the folks who were on the bench this week out.

FABLES #140 — The opening tag on last month’s Part 1 had the tension ratcheted up to a ridiculous level on what would otherwise have seemed like an enjoyable but for the most part throwaway filler arc. How would this motley crew of musicians stumble upon the inciting incident that would destroy Fabletown? Would it be an ancient curse? Unlocking an evil older than Mr. Dark or even Pinocchio’s father? Or the Mirror on the Wall? The reveal in the final panel is as elegant a piece of storytelling as anything that Bill Willingham has executed in eleven years of crafting these tales for us and already has me all misty at the thought of not having this series as a regular part of my life. Ten more months.

WRAITH #6 — Here we come to the grisly end of the arc that this series has been serving up since the second issue. There are grisly shenanigans and scissors-for-the-drifter a’plenty tempered by just enough hope and light in the form of those Delirium-101 balloons to give our protagonists a fighting chance. Wilson cranks it up on art for this finale. The double-page splash of the labyrinth is a serious blast of cartooning that can hang with any of the all-time greats. I wonder if he took any inspiration from JHWIII over on BATWOMAN #15. By issue’s end, I was surprised to find that Hill’s deft and very economical character work amidst all of this horror had snuck up on me to the point that I almost got broken up during Llewellyn & Agnes’s farewell. Strong work throughout, this series has turned out to be every bit as good as I hoped and expected it to be. Looking for an extra slice of devastation next month from the epilogue.

STARLIGHT #3 — A more regular rhythm has to kick in here as the creators have already set the stage, moved the characters into place, and it’s time to really get on with telling the story proper. The Kingfisher is established as a viable and serious threat. Gloves imbuing limited telekinetic abilities never seemed so horrifying. The centerpiece of the issue is a good old action fracas in the town square in which Duke proves that he’s still got what it takes but then there’s the punctuation mark of him now being an old guy who can get hit by a car just like anybody else. And we’ve got a jailbreak to look forward to next issue, as well as getting to know what looks to be a very strong female protagonist. Millar & Parlov still have their eye on the prize.

STAR WARS #17 — Well, this is more like it. This book was floundering a bit here in the past couple of months, but Wood pulls it together and hits the tone and plot beats a bit closer to how hard he had it rocking here in the first year of this series. Of COURSE there isn’t going to be a wedding and a gang of Star Destroyers have just jumped into the system from hyperspace. I dig how the cover copy is straight up addressing Luke, which lends a very old school feel to the proceedings. Glad to get this one back on track for however long the license lasts before reverting to Marvel.

ASTRO CITY #12 — Busiek delivers another fully realized character with the Ned Carroway, a dapper clotheshorse who can’t resist his wolflike tendencies to commit crimes and scheme his way up the social strata. “Newcomer” Graham Nolan delivers solid storytelling with every page, a perfect choice to fill in for series regular Brent Anderson. The beats of this story fall in both surprising and predictable places over the course of the issue but are always delivered with the master craftsmanship we have come to expect from this book over the years. And how about Alex Ross once again taking a single panel and blowing it up into a truly iconic image? We’re getting spoiled with this title as a regular monthly book, faithful ones.

ALL-NEW X-MEN #027 — This is another installment of The Really Serious Shit that escalates matters in Bendis’s mega-run quite definitively. Anyone who complains that all the man knows how to do is decompression and call-and-response quasi-Mamet dialogue needs to have a copy of this one right here jammed down their throat, because while the man writes yet another tense invasion of Cyclops’s repurposed Weapon X facility packed full of wonderful character supercollisions (my favorite was Teen Jean’s bit about now understanding how annoying it is that the original X-Men are there and Emma’s response), we also get nine pages of flash-forwards that give Lindelof and crew on their best day a run for their money. Three scenes and every one climaxing in an eyebrow-raising Holy Shit! moment. And, of course, the art. I just hope that Immonen/Von Grawbadger/Gracia will please all stay on board until Bendis types THE END, be that at #050, #100, whenever it happens.

FANTASTIC FOUR #004 — More good fun to be found here as Robinson/Kirk dedicate the entire issue to pretty much an issue-long slugfest that would have done The King proud while also giving Johnny something to do besides mope around. For a couple of pages anyway! Bonus points for bringing in 3/4 of the Fraction/Allred alternate crew, I know Medusa is all wrapped up elsewhere trying to build the corporate brand, but it’s nice to see Scott, Darla, and Jen anyway.

NEW AVENGERS #018 — Valerio Schiti fills in for Morales and does a beautiful job throughout with a style that skews a bit more anime and generally cartoony and is a very good fit for this issue. It’s so lovely when the random people you never heard of also kick ass. The bulk of this issue is dedicated to a council of dead Black Panthers giving T’Challa advice and a bit of shit near the end for not already stone-cold murdering his teammate/nemesis Namor. All of that drinking and laughing last issue was just for show! I fall for it every time. We jump to Hank more fully indoctrinating Banner into the circle of trust and then Tony has it out with the Black Swan, even allowing the lady to get in a zinger by slow-pitching her the line about lies of omission. But it all boils down to this being the 616 side of what’s been going on during the past two issues with all of the DC analogues over on Earth-4-million-something-something-something. This issue does a very effective job of ratcheting up the tension before finally crashing in to the first incursion during which our heroes are going to have to make the Horrible Choice that’s been looming since #double-oh-one.

AVENGERS #29—This takes place after ORIGINAL SIN #2, though it came out a week ahead of time. Silly Marvel publication schedule! A significant portion of this is dedicated to Yu redrawing the climax of the first arc of Hickman’s NEW AVENGERS. Which is still totally worth it, as it leads to the memory blocks that Strange cast in Steve’s mind finally breaking down, which gives way to a hell of a confrontation that does more in a single scene than Millar managed to accomplish in seven full issues of CIVIL WAR in terms of Rogers vs Stark. The full extent of the resolution of this single fracas has only begun to be explored but it’s a very interesting final page that has got me hoping that they keep slamming these things out every couple of weeks like they seem to enjoy doing.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


FUTURE’S END #1—Now, that is a beautiful cover from Ryan Sook. A little bit about me and DC weeklies: I adored 52, haaaaaated COUNTDOWN and bailed out on it within a very few issues, and thought TRINITY was solid though average and mainly stayed with it to watch Bagley draw eleven pages a week (or whatever it turned out to be). I thought that #0 of this title for FCBD was all right but suffered from the future-what-if? book syndrome in which the minute a writer gets a story involving corporate characters that’s out of continuity, he or she winds up just like murdering everybody (seriously, check out Marvel’s second volume of WHAT IF? from the early nineties, it seems like every single one that I can recall picking up ended in Everybody Dies!)(Claremont got here first as well, it seems). So at any rate, I was interested to see how we’d do here, now that we’re under a weekly rhythm and presumably can’t burn every single character. Sure, we’re set five years in the future but presumably going to stay here so can’t just axe the cast all of the time. Oh ho, was that a premature sentiment. After an opening scene pretty firmly establishing Terry McGuiness as the series lead, we are treated to five pages of Ellis/Hitch’s Authority (now with Hawkman in the cast! Which I found unaccountably hilarious, just the mutation and subsumption of that originally subversive cast into the DC universe at large) cresting on the cusp of the most uninspired The Carrier captions of all time before coming face-to-face with an evil so great and powerful that it blows them all up. Which shouldn’t have been a surprise, it is right there on the cover, after all. Oh well, let’s turn to Grifter, no wait, he’s just murdering a family of six who actually, oh good, are really aliens in disguise, and now here’s half of Firestorm cockblocking the other because, oh dear!, they’re late to a Green Arrow-sent distress call and are actually the cause of poor Ollie meeting his maker once again. Ronnie Raymond, you have failed this city!

Patrick Zircher does a great job with these pages. I would love to know the writers’ breakdown, who’s first-drafting which character. Maybe Azzarello on Terry, Lemire on the Authority, Jurgens on Grifter, and Giffen on Firestorm? This is pretty good fun, but we’re going to need the near-future heroes to stop dropping like flies to crank up the stakes every issue, here.

BATMAN ETERNAL #5—And the weekly fun continues! Alll of those writers welcome Andy Clarke, who keeps the bar high. We shift the focus off of Batman and Gordon this issue (the latter’s total absence from these pages particularly ominous, as that character’s final page seemed to imply the beginning of a long crusade against involuntary institutionalized sodomy) in favor of Tim Drake and the merry band of Harper Row, Vicki Vale, and their respective sidekicks. It’s a good call to shine the light on some of the other members of the ensemble while the other plots simmer. I am wondering about all of those near-future hijinx we were implicitly promised there in BATMAN #28 a couple of months back, though. Hopefully Stephanie Brown won’t get captured next week and then spend months being tied up before we make it back to that last page again.

DETECTIVE COMICS #31 — These guys settle into the narrative flow a little bit smoother in their second issue, and of course the pages look amazing. The ensemble writing is working for me much better than over in FLASH, these characters all already seem much more fully formed. I totally fell for the deal with Bruce in disguise as Ash, which I LOVE, am all about it when some character’s just going along and then takes off the mask and is Batman. Shouldn’t life always be that great? Those small panels on Page Twenty are a masterful little bit of staging, top quality work, there. It is a good time to be a fan of the Dark Knight Detective.

BATMAN/SUPERMAN #10—Because it never lets up! This is quite a week of Batman. I probably would have left this on the rack if it had been Pak/Lee or really most other people, but Lemire/Kerschl taking us on micro-mission to save the Dark Knight starring Superman and The Atom is not something that I’m going to be missing. Kerschl only winds up drawing half the book but Scott Hepburn holds up his end, and it’s a fun little done-in-one that Lemire also cannily uses to nudge forward all of his other books, even ones he’s left behind, as we get a framing sequence with Father Time of S.H.A.D.E. that’s bound to have some crazy kind of payoff some time, somewhere.

THE WAKE #8 — It’s all hitting the fan in the roar toward the big conclusion as Leeward falls in with a gang of pirates, we get our first glimpse of Lee Archer’s face in two hundred years, and the Alamo makes a rousing and memorable appearance, indeed. Snyder continues to steer the action/adventure component of this narrative into port with deft precision while Murphy/Hollingsworth’s pages burst forth from two-dimensional space crackling with dynamism.

FATALE #22 — Only two to go after this one? I didn’t realize we were that close to done! So, of course it’s time to check in and get the secret origin of The Bishop here at the last minute, and it’s full of as much grotesque and horrifying imagery as we have come to expect. Seriously, I wish I could unsee that dead baby tree. Just horrifying. Um. I’ll say no more.

SATELLITE SAM #8 — The fun continues as the stakes go up and Mike stumbles across footage that might maybe some day lead to his father’s killer. Chaykin keeps knocking it out of the park with top drawer draftsmanship. Of course, he had to bang out an actual Tijuana bible when it showed up in the script. “Oh say, baby, this is tops,” indeed! Still enjoying this but thinking it should be moving a little bit faster. After eight issues, not that much has really happened. Other than all the drinking and fucking, but hey.

ORIGINAL SIN #1 — It’s a shame that Marvel felt compelled to hype this series hook as pretty much the only promotional material, because the big fella going down would have been a kind of huge moment if we didn’t all know that it was coming months ahead of time. Aaron wastes no time getting his ducks in a line after it all goes down. Though my favorite part was the Cap, Logan, Natasha, and Fury eating steak and reminiscing about the glorious old days of grilling a slaughtered cow while under siege in 1944 Bastogne. Marvel should publish an anthology of top creators doing just that, having the characters just sit around bars talking at Harry’s or wherever. I’d buy the hell out of it, at least. At any rate, not a lot else happens this issue but the gathering of some factions. I’m not a fan of the smarmy little captions that pop up every time a character shows up who pretty much everybody who’d plunk down $5 for this thing has been reading for twenty-odd years now. Particularly the Punisher one. If we’re trying to be funny, it doesn’t play. Deodato/F. Martin throw down some serious sequentials here, the double-page spread of dead Uatu is suitably dramatic and we know they’ve got the chops to throw down on an event this potentially massive in scope. I’m not just really on the hook with this event based on this issue alone but trust Aaron with the slow burn.

MOON KNIGHT #003 — This was a pretty skinny one. Everybody shows up and keeps doing that crazy thing they do that makes this book so crazy, but there’s not enough material in here to justify the price tag. I’m sure this will make a hell of an interesting trade, but if you’re going to charge $3.99 for twenty pages, throwing down no more than maybe a total of five total pages of dialogue therein is going to make some folks feel like they’re not getting their money’s worth. It’s certainly a decision, the empty spaces, and works for me for a while, no one else is going to bring you the widescreen cinematic like Brother Uncle Warren, of course, but I could use a little bit more meat on these spectral bones, just a hint of an enticing ongoing mystery, something. This one feels pretty disposable and there’s again no escalation from the first issue. Pull the ripcord, Uncle! What does the horrifying ghost bird skeleton creature mean?

Saturday, May 10, 2014


AVENGERS #028 — This manages to be a pretty gripping issue-long conversation between Banner and Stark. Hickman has been studying his Bendis! A very interesting long-term plot development with the way things resolve with Banner interrogating Tony. I like the way that it’s written how he figures out something’s wrong, noticing first the design and then everyone else’s fingerprints upon it. I’m really not a fan of the way Larocca’s pencils are looking with F. Martin’s colors, hope those guys are about done here because their work is not screaming A-list the way this book needs to. A very cool wrinkle with that last epilogue, there.

NEW AVENGERS #017 — The great DC society riff continues as the heroes of Earth-4,290,001 make a stand against the end of their universe. With a generous portion of Kirby Krackle on the first page, even. Once again, Hickman does a great job striking a tone that’s pretty classic DC while Morales validates it with a style more in keeping with what they’ve got going on across the street, some occasionally wonky anatomy notwithstanding. I am a fan of the way in which Hickman is steering the Namor/T’Challa dynamic. That both-guys-start-cracking-up bit was a direct nod to THE KILLING JOKE, right? Very clever. Really happy about that twist at the end, was positive that the Society folks were flying into certain doom and that their tale was done but it turns out it’s just about to get much more interesting.

ALL-NEW X-MEN #026 — Oh, shit! That opening two-page splash! Totally worth the immediate “it was all a dream” cheat. Because that was the crazy times. Followed by a hell of a damn opening scene. Bendis absolutely murders it. Just a conversation between Scott and Teen Jean, but so monumental. I’m getting to the point that I feel like I’m going to have to swear off mutant books after Bendis is done just out of respect, because I’m going to want that particular The End to be the one that matters, the one that finally at last counts, as far as sequentials go. Like it would be blasphemy to just keep going the next month with new guys and the inevitable new #1. But this one once again does its job, pushes the narrative forward just enough while containing enough solid beats of character interaction to make this single installment feel not only worthwhile but like one of the better books on the rack. And art as breathtaking as ever. Continually stunning material.

SILVER SURFER #002 — Slott does a good job here right off the bat not casting Dawn as the damsel-in-distress but a plucky involuntary adventurer who’s nevertheless able to extricate herself from interplanetary jams. And that was before he manages to sneak in an EPISODE IV paraphrase in the last panel, there. All while our boy suddenly looks like a visorless Alex Murphy, somehow. I dug the splash of all of the Surfer’s possible futures, but I guess I am a sucker for that old trick. The Allreds continue to deliver top-drawer work. It looks like Laura Allred has taken a page out of James Stokoe’s batshit crazy playbook while coloring The Impericon as seen from space.  

UNCANNY AVENGERS ANNUAL #001 — I was curious how Remender was going to be able to bang out a standalone one-shot here given the planet-atomizing nonsense he’s been getting up to in the main title, but of course the whole thing is just a Mojo pitch. It’s a little cruel to tantalize us with an Art Adams cover, but Paul Renaud steps right up and does pretty fine work on pencils, inks, and color. The script is deft. Remender knows a thing or two about pandering to demographics. The line about the rumpus dungeon was by far my favorite and almost got me in trouble last night when I couldn’t get it out of my head at a Democratic fundraiser where Wendy Davis was speaking, I kept wanting to grab random Democrats by the collar and scream, “Is this my rumpus dungeon?!” in their face, which, there’s no way that would have played well with that particular demographic. This annual, though, it’s a weird duck, Remender goes all meta- on the last couple of pages, straight up points out that this entire thing was unimportant nonsense cooked up for us masses who’ll devour anything, pretty much stops just short of waving a five-dollar bill in our faces and laughing at us. And then everybody in the pool on the last page! I like to think that Remender is laughing with us, not at us.

BLACK SCIENCE #6 — What a finish! Can this be the end for Grant McKay? Remender does a good job framing those two climactic scenes of Grant vs Kadir and Pia vs the team with a pair of surprising resolutions. But we’re not really supposed to believe Grant is toast, are we? Surely he’s just going to have to find his kids in the onion now. The one problem I had with this issue was the narrative captions, confusion over who was saying what when. It’s obviously Grant narrating at the first but then at some point it switches over to Kadir talking about “Grant and his team” but then it once again switches back to Grant referring to Kadir in the third person, so I know I’m not just making this up, but unless the narrator is explicitly referring to his opponent, I was going along in both cases thinking that it had been the other guy talking. It allllllmost looks like the shade on the caption-box is different, but that’s not really the kind of thing that you want to make subtle. All things considered, though, a hell of a way to go out. Bring on #7 in July!

CHEW #41 — That Tony Chu moves fast when he decides he wants to get happy! What a lovely way to begin the final third of the series. And always charming to spend a couple of pages checking in with that Poyo. Only in this series would an ultra-high-capacity fudge blaster be getting used for extreme urban pacification. This is a hell of a single issue of CHEW, a very rewarding and tightly packed experience all on its own. Case closed, indeed!

BEST OF WEEK: SOUTHERN BASTARDS #1 — Man, damn. I was expecting pretty great things from this, but these boys done knocked it out the park. Terribly compelling from the get-go, this one never lets you go after the dog takes a dump on the opening splash page. Our protagonist is a tough-as-nails older fella who won’t take guff from any of the swine in his former hometown. He’s ostensibly just there for two or three days to see to his uncle’s personal effects now that the guy’s in a nursing home, but it’s already very clear that Earl Tubb’s stay in Craw County is going to last a hell of a lot longer. Jason Aaron digs in and gets right to it, introduces us to an ensemble of innocents and ne’er-do-wells while doling out crucial exposition. The series principal antagonist, Coach Boss, is only mentioned and never appears on-panel. Unless he’s one of the players who attacked the Earl’s father at their homestead forty years ago. It’s a slow burn of a pace that’s a good fit for the material and setting. Jason LaTour delivers 28 pages of full art that depict a jagged world of harsh light that can erupt into murderous violence at any moment. This is a strong debut that promises a hell of a ride.

VERTIGO QUARTERLY: CYAN — This is . . . an interesting theme to hang an anthology on. Seems kind of random and arbitrary but I’m not going to quibble about getting a regular Vertigo anthology. However it shows up is fine with me. As long as the stories aren’t half-baked nonsense. Which is definitely how things commence. I was not delighted to learn that our lead story has Shaun Simon credited on script. Simon overcomes perfectly serviceable Tony Akins art to tell the trite story of a serial-killing artist with a couple of weak twists that had me questioning the viability of this entire endeavor. Which is pretty much the opposite of the way you want to lead off your 80-page anthology. The second story, “918,” is also a strange thing that hinges on some fun with numeric orientation. I did see that Joe Keatinge disavowed the ending (probably in the process of torpedoing future work from the publisher), saying that editorial completely changed it, so I’m not sure what fault lies where. The ending as published is definitely a bit limp. All right. Next up, we’ve got Jock co-writing and drawing a demon dog. That can’t be all bad, right? It isn’t. Of course the panels look amazing, but the story doesn’t really manage to hang together. What’s the significance of the ice cream pops? Shouldn’t there be some? It comes across as thrown together and slapdash. Okay. Next up, we have a former Hot Young Thing feeling envious of this year’s latest model. A tale as old as the hills themselves. It’s not awful, but at this point we’re halfway through the book and I am missing Karen Berger so badly.

But, courage! Here come Monty Nero and Al Davison to singlehandedly save the day with “Much Ado About Nothing,” eight pages that even manage to live up to stealing the Shakespeare tag, that’s how great they are. About halfway through, I started wanting to take pictures of this entire story and send them to people. I’m probably still going to do that. Not only is this the only story that actually manages to integrate the theme of cyan into the narrative in a way that’s seamless, it tells the gripping story of a group of cyber-analysts who stumble upon the perils of using quantum Fourier analysis to unlock three different codes as a counterterrorism measure. To say anything more would be giving it away, but this is the best short story I’ve read since Rian Hughes’s genius piece in BATMAN: BLACK AND WHITE #3 and it works just as hard pushing the medium forward and showing how great we all can be. Worth every penny, all by itself. Which is good news. Cris Peter and Ana Koehler turn in a beautiful-looking but mostly forgettable short before Rodi/Fernandez/Villarrubia crank things up with a horrific tale that does a fine job channeling that old EC vibe, down to the doomed after-the-fact narration and grisly last-page reveal. Tynion/Morazzo/Mulvihill produce another set of pages that are beautiful to look at but feel a bit slight as far as a standalone story goes. Which, I guess I feel the same way about Fabio Moon’s headliner, “Breaking News of the Wonders the Future Holds,” which is a much better title than story. Don’t get me wrong, I adooooore the Bá/Moon, DAYTRIPPER is one of my all-time favorites, but these six pages have too much heavy lifting to do, slotted as they are in the headlining spot of a collection that has been not as much uneven as overall average to below-average throughout. This breezy short would fit very well within the other fare of the twins’ DE:TALES-type output, the art is gorgeous, but at this point, this one would pretty much have to be “The Ballad of Brás de Oliva Dominguez Rides Again” to pull this anthology out of the fire.

So like I said, Nero/Davison make the whole thing worthwhile in the middle here, but it’s testament solely to their nigh-infinite greatness that I don’t feel a bit ripped by throwing down eight dollars for this thing. Leading off with fucking Shaun Simon, man.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


BEST OF WEEK: UNCANNY AVENGERS #019 — Okay, so that’s the deal with the Scarlet Witch and the whole mutant rapture thing. I actually did get that and needed it spelled out to me in strokes as bold as this. But what a damn set-up by Remender. Of course when he blew up the entire planet, we all knew that there was going to have to be some kind of reset button, but he pulls the impressive trick of crafting one that’s not only not hackneyed and terrible but actually very damn compelling. I love how Remender has pursued the initial premise of these two franchises being thrown together resulting in actually the Worst Team Ever to its maximum end result of straight up blowing up Earth and now the only way to save the day is to get help from Kang and the most horrible villains across time so that the gang can learn how to work together just this one time and not screw up so badly that a Celestial destroys the world. That is actually hilarious. It is frankly stunning how wonderful Remender has cranked this book up to be. I wonder if he’s got something planned for a follow-up arc or if this is just like one enormous maxi-series and done. Because I really can’t see #025 being Wanda and Rogue talking shit at one another in the kitchen again, you know?

ORIGINAL SIN #0 — I’m always tempted to skip things like this due to an abiding case of event fatigue, but then Marvel goes and gets supremely talented creators like Mark Waid and Jim Cheung to crank this sort of thing out and there’s no way to say no. I had not read a page of the Kid Nova adventures and could have given less than a damn about the character but was then riveted by what was going down. “Whacked in the face by truth,” indeed! This is some solid teenage superheroic action that’s very evocative of classic Silver Age Marvel Universe while managing to feel not only contemporary but brand new. Having Sam stump the Avengers trinity by simply asking why Uatu does what he does is gold. I didn’t have a problem with them wholesale heisting the armory from PLANETARY #14, which I guess was a bit of a lift from THE MATRIX anyway. And you’ve got to love Uatu’s old crew’s naivety. They nuked their world. “How could this be?” Because you handed them nuclear fusion, you guys. Don’t expect a gang of savages to suddenly become intelligent benevolent rulers just because you see the potential in them. It works as an origin motivation, though. That two-page spread of the entire multiverse is some impressive business from Mr. Cheung. It freaked me out a little bit, staring at it, suddenly my perfect pitch for an FF book hit me, the whole deal, which would be have the team be an alternate-universe team of Reed, Sue, Victor, and Johnny, and play up the whole romantic triangle between the first three while playing it straight for months and months before the big reveal is that of course they’re not supposed to be the team and they have to decide whether or not to fix the past in order to correct the timeline, and of course you’d have to make Ben be Dr. Doom in this scenario, which was validated pretty hard a couple of pages later when Sam tosses out one detail among many of The Thing being Dr. Doom. Finger on the pulse of the multiverse, thank yew very much! And Waid choregraphs that last scene to perfection, really manages to pack an emotional punch into an exchange between Uatu and Kid Nova, which is pretty much sequential alchemy, as far as I can tell. A high level of craft, here.

DAREDEVIL #002 — Waid is clever for tapping The Shroud as kind of an anti-Matt. And he’s really doling it out here, can’t believe we’re waiting this long and still unsure about what’s happened to Foggy over the break. Samnee & Rodriguez continue to absolutely crush the art.

FANTASTIC FOUR #003 — All right, they really start firing on all cylinders this time. This one really feels like the FF in a way that the past couple didn’t for me. I wish The Thing and Deathlok teaming up against Mandroid armor had been like a six-page backup feature. Classic Marvel Team-Up type material. Because why not? I love Franklin’s detail of the way that Namor has always looked at Sue, a gem of a character beat, there. Even better, though, is the masterstroke of shuffling Valeria off to be mentored in Latveria. Because OF COURSE. That was my favorite relationship of Hickman’s entire beautiful run. And a terrific splash on our way out. Very glad to see this book punching at its weight class.

BATMAN/SUPERMAN #9 — This is all right, but the final product seems to be less than the sum of its individual parts ought to be. Maybe it’s too crowded? I love Greg Pak over on ACTION, but he’s not knocking the lights out on character beats here like he is over there. Jae Lee’s art is impressive but still doesn’t quite feel like it’s a good fit for this book. Not offended by this but not loving it the way that I feel like I ought to be.

BATMAN ETERNAL #4 — I thought The Mighty Layman took off without turning in a script? Apparently not, here’s the first issue not scripted by Snyder/Tynion and with the dynamite team of Nguyen/Fridolfs subbing in for Fabok. And the quality doesn’t drop a notch. Batgirl is raising hell and old Bruce has to get a bit hypocritical with her in terms of inflicting excessive and sweet cathartic justice all over Gotham hoods. And you just knew that calling her mom was the last move that poor Stephanie Brown should have made. Maybe she won’t get murdered in this kinder, gentler New 52? At least not right away. Maybe.

THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS #20 — Nick Pitarra once again hits new levels of nuance and detail in his hyper-rendering. Every page looks like it took about three fourteen-hour days to hit that heightened degree of linework. I feel like Moebius and Darrow would have good things to say about these pages. Or at least nod very appreciatively. Really fine work, my favorite is the three-page run of two vertical panels per page montaging over Einstein the Barbarian’s action adventures throughout the various parallel dimensions. As for the plot, I’m learning that it’s almost better to not think too hard about it, worrying which version of whom is saying what, just Geronimo! into the madness and let it carry you away.

ZERO #7 — There’s a lot of empty space in this one, which made it seem like less of a read on the first pass. This was entirely a result of how well the narrative was working, causing me to read faster because I wanted to find out what happened next and consequently ripping through the entire thing in under five minutes. Which certainly made the twist at the end even more sudden than it was. But that’s not how you’re supposed to read this, you’re doing a disservice to the issue if you don’t stop and really appreciate the expansive vistas that Matt Taylor and Jordie Bellaire have crafted here under the pen of Ales Kot. Less dialogue does not mean you should turn the page faster but instead slow down and soak up what these pages have got going on. The recurring motif of doors cracking or closing suggests that we are witnessing Zero standing at the threshold of the gateway between his old life and whatever happens next to eventually bring him and us back to the framing sequence from the beginning of #1. I’m once again grateful that I picked this up in singles so that I could meditate in all of that empty space instead of just roaring right on into #s 8-10. More quality work from Image in the year 2014, who’d a thunk it?