I wasn’t kidding when I said that school was going to interrupt my working on this site. I didn’t get to do the reviews last week because I was working on another paper. Priorities are making this a bitch to write, so the reviews are going to be a little shorter than usual. Also, the format is going to get a little change. I’m going to review EVERYTHING I possibly can, but they’ll be shorter reviews. Basically I’m trying to cover more ground by hitting the major points as directly as possible. If nobody likes the changes, I’ll switch back, but I think this is better for everybody.
Let’s attempt this, shall we?
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 643
I’m still washing the bad taste of OMIT out of my mouth. It seems like the book is back on the right track, but once again, the issue feels a little light. I feel like if I had paid a full 3.99 for this issue I would be a little disappointed because this was probably the quickest read of the week.
BATMAN BEYOND # 4
We find out who Hush is in this issue. And once again, I feel like the reveal was a bit of a cop out. I won’t tell you who it is, I’ll just say that it fits with everything I’ve come to expect both from the Hush character and the Batman Beyond universe. From what I’ve seen so far with this miniseries, I don’t expect myself to pick up the ongoing when it hits stands.
BIRDS OF PREY # 5:
Gail Simone kicks off a new arc on Birds of Prey picking up where she left off last month with Babara trying to make things right with Creote and Savant, and Dinah flying off to China with the White Canary. The issue has Simone’s usual flair for dialogue and the storyline is progressing in a way that seems interesting, with the action having a good amount of organic flow to it, but the artwork leaves something to be desired this time around. It seems like the very definition of “Fill In,” with sketchy line work that seems a bit rushed and doesn’t convey the same amount of detail that there was in the debut arc of the new volume. It’s not horrible, it’s just distracting.
DEADPOOL # 27:
This book is becoming so middle of the road that it frightens me. I think they’re trying to keep the tone at a certain level so that the upcoming MAX title seems to have an edge over the regular 616 version. That’s not to say that the book isn’t worth a read. It’s fun and light. It’s basically worth reading if you want something that makes you laugh while you read it and not much else.
HACK/SLASH : MY FIRST MANIAC # 4
Hack/Slash is pretty consistent. This issue hits all the marks that the series should and I’m primed and pumped for the relaunch under the Image banner. I think having the ongoing back will make up for the flaws of the miniseries, which feels almost too small compared to the overarching continuity of the regular series.
THUNDERBOLTS # 148:
I don’t know why they decided to work this title into the Shadowland crossover. I mean, yeah, Luke Cage is in it, but beyond that it doesn’t seem to fit. I thought the crossover with Avengers Academy made more sense. The issue itself isn’t really bad, especially in the moments that have nothing to do with Shadowland. Anything dealing with the Thunderbolts in the prison setting, where Crossbones and the rest of the team really get a chance to shine are some great moments indeed. It’s only when Luke Cage shows up and reminds us that since he’s involved the Thunderbolts have to be involved as well. Sadly, once the action does move into Shadowland territory it seems to fall apart. It’s all a matter of abrupt change that doesn’t seem to really do much for the story we’ve had thus far.
X-23 # 1:
This one sort of comes off as a New X-Men reunion. It picks up on a lot of threads that have been gestating since the end of that particular series. The characters have been in use since then but it seems like this is the first time in a while since anybody did anything with them that advanced what had been set up before. X-23 was really the only one who had any sort of character development since then, and that’s because she had some time in X-Force to deal with her issues.
Now, with her own ongoing series, she should be able to continue to develop, and it looks like the New X-Men cast will be her supporting cast here. Which is definitely a good thing considering that I loved that series and I still get a little mad that its gone sometimes. The story itself seems to be starting off by tossing Laura into a situation that’s more personal than the usual do-or-die situations she’s been dealing with in X-Force. Hopefully this can grow into a good series with a little time.
It was a pretty small week this week. With the one book I didn’t read being the sixth volume of Empowered which is a perennial favorite of mine. Because, c’mon, bondage. Anyhow, next week might be a bigger one, so we’ll see how things pan out. Later!
Here’s the deal. I’ve been busy with a TON of stuff today. Like, just about everything that I need to do in a given month I had to get done today and then some. So you’ll have to apologize when I eschew the typical format of these reviews and go about this a little differently this week. This week’s reviews will be comprised of just two books, Batman and Superman # 701. Basically, the biggest two books to hit this week. I mean, Birds of Prey # 3 was awesome, and a bunch of people who went apeshit over certain events in the second issue had eat some serious crow. I finally picked up a copy of The Sixth Gun which I recommend to anybody who likes Jonah Hex but wants a little bit of mysticism thrown in without being outright terrible like the film. Also Generation Lost made me fall in freaking love with the Rocket Reds.
Let’s start with Superman # 701.
Dear god, this whole issue seems like 32 pages of JMS trying to justify the premise of his arc to us by hammering us over the head with apathetic retreads of tired philosophy and even more tired retreads of scenes that Grant Morrison already did to perfection a few years back with All-Star Superman. Seriously, that suicide jumper scene was basically everything Morrison did but stretched out for a few pages with no sense of gravitas. It’s so mind-numbingly blunt that it looses any and all effect.
I think my biggest problem with JMS’s retread of Hard Travelin’ Heroes starring Superman is that JMS doesn’t seem to write Superman in the classic sense. The Superman I know is not the spiteful, sarcastic, embittered abuser of power that we get in this issue. This feels like Stracynski trying to finish out what he had wanted to do with Thor but couldn’t because he got tossed to the curb by Marvel editorial. I think that a lot of the bitterness that he feels over how that panned out is being transferred onto his Superman. Superman here doesn’t feel like he needs to answer to anybody. Not reporters, not the man on the street, nobody. He is sick and tired of everyone’s impatience and expectations. The problem is, he’s made Superman borderline unlikeable in this instance.
I’ve seen just as much love for this issue as I have hate, so obviously he’s struck a chord with people. But I’ve noticed that a lot of the praise is coming from people who are new to reading Superman on a regular basis. A lot of first timer’s interested by the premise got drawn in, and having no attachment to everything that makes Superman…well, Superman, they find this sort of bland retread to be new and fresh and exciting.
It’s lazy and it doesn’t really work for anyone who has any real understanding of Superman as a character. Some would argue that JMS is attempting to write away the flaws of Superman, but by turning him into a cynical jerkwad doesn’t do anything but create more flaws. It alienates the previously faithful readers and the new readership is not likely to stick around in the long run.
It’s not the worst issue of Superman ever written, it’s just an egregious slap in the face to fans of the character. It collapses under the weight of it’s own self importance and in the end will just be another footnote in the long history of the book that people look back on and sort of chuckle at.
Still better than Electric Blue Supes.
On the flipside, we have Batman 701, which goes back to the moments immediately following Batman R.I.P. and leading up to Batman’s collision course with Darkseid in Final Crisis. This issue is the first time in a while we’ve seen Bruce Wayne in the suit for the main story. I think Morrison was wise to hold off on this issue until now, simply because it gives the audience a broader understanding of his entire overall story and allows for the reader to follow the action with greater ease than if it had come immediately following R.I.P.
The artwork is just amazing, a step-up from Daniel, whose work seemed to be rushed while he had to perform the writing duties as well. There is more definition, more style on display here. It matches the mood of the story perfectly, and I think that goes a long way towards crafting an excellent issue.
The basic premise is centered around Hurt’s declaration that following the events of R.I.P., if Bruce were to wear the cowl again it would be the last time. A prophetic curse that weighs heavy on Bruce. It’s interesting that he takes this to heart the way he does, seeing how he comes down on criminals as being overly cowardly and superstitious and I don’t think that is an accident. Morrison doesn’t do coincidence.
His reaction to the death of a New God shows us exactly how Morrison feels about Batman as a character and it works well within everything that’s come to be associated with Bruce as far as his determination and his psyche. It’s the exact opposite of Stracynski’s Superman in that regard. Nobody will accuse this Batman of not being in character. He is the driven detective, the dark knight and he acts as such.
I’m looking forward to the rest of this arc.
I’m a comic fan. I read the books, I follow characters and creators specifically, I have a friggin’ website dedicated to projecting my love/criticisms of the weekly books, but I do not consider myself part of any “fandom.” I don’t claim any character as my own the way some people will (though I will pimp Jubilee and Dazzler any chance I get. UNDER APPRECIATED I SAY!). My recent forays into the world of Tumblr, which is in and of itself a harmless site, have led me to some places that I don’t want to go again. It is a streamlined portion of the internet hate machine the likes of which is not often seen.
I mean, yeah. Look, I can see where it’s funny. I don’t think it’s really meant as a direct statement that books like Birds of Prey shouldn’t exist. I doubt the person that made it gives two shits either way and was just trying to get a laugh. But this thing immediately got reblogged by like eighty bajillion folks and the feminist hordes who champion books like Birds of Prey and Wonder Woman started gnashing their teeth and getting overprotective. And it was at that moment that I had a sort of realization about comics and their part in the readership’s everyday life.
I realize that a healthy portion of the comic reading population latches onto a particular title or character because of how they can relate to the characters within. That is the sign of a character’s strength in their ability to resonate with the reader. But I’ve noticed that any percieved slight against a character or a book is taken extremely personal by the people who have claimed that character as their own. You do NOT want to see what some Wonder Woman fans are saying on Tumblr right now in regards to that new costume. Jim Lee and Stracynski might want to avoid going into public spaces for a little while.
I’ve been accused of taking comics too seriously in the past. I immediately hung my head in shame because that’s the last thing I want to do. When you start taking all of this too seriously, you come off as the kind of fan that the nightly news mocks when they cover a comic convention.
I’m not saying that you can’t be passionate. But the average fan-person seems to deal in black and white absolutism when it comes to “their” character. That anything said that goes against the grain of their definition is inheritly wrong. Is that graphic above insulting to women? Certainly, it’s meant to mock and insult. Was it malicious? I can’t immediately assume so. I’m sure there are plenty of female comic readers who have made similar jokes about the chest-thumping over-wrought masculinity of something like Conan the Barbarian or something similar. I love Conan, I’d probably see such a graphic and say “Heh, yeah,” not call for the burning of male genitalia on a social networking blog.
Well, it’s time for me to rant and rave about comics again. It feels like it’s already later in the week than it really is so you’ll forgive me if everything feels a bit “off” today. I’m not sure why I feel so damned disoriented but I do. I spent Tuesday playing Red Dead Redemption, which I finally managed to complete and it was worth it because that game is all kinds of amazing right up to the very end. I want a sequel now. But games are more my brother’s department, so I’ll let him tell you about that if he ever decides to do another editorial for us, the lazy bastich.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #633 2.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #634 GRIM 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN PRESENTS BLACK CAT #1 (OF 4) 3.99
BIRDS OF PREY #2 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
BLACK WIDOW #3 HA 2.99
BOYS #43 (MR) 3.99
DEADPOOL #24 2.99
DEADPOOL MERC WITH A MOUTH #12 (OF 13) 2.99
HER-OES #3 2.99
HERALDS #3 (OF 5) 2.99
INCREDIBLE HULK #610 WWHS 3.99
NEW AVENGERS #1 HA 3.99
NEW MUTANTS #14 XSC 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS X #3 3.99
WITCHBLADE TP VOL 07 14.99
X-FACTOR FOREVER #4 3.99
So let’s hop to it. No sense in wasting time.
Two issues of Amazing Spider-Man hit the shelves this week. Three if you count the Black Cat mini-series. The finale of SHED was passable, but the overall quality of the arc is tainted for me by Bachalo’s artwork, which I find to be damn near incomprehensible. Seriously, I have no clue what in god’s blue balls is going on when that dude draws an issue. I’m not saying that he’s a bad artist, as there’s obviously talent there. I certainly can’t draw with any degree of his skill, his style simply aggrivates me and if Spidey weren’t a title I’d been collecting for around six years straight I would probably skip the story just so as to avoid looking at his clusterfuck linework.
Skip to the next issue however, and it looks like we’re in for a ride and a half. The Kraven saga is finally coming to a head, with the Kravinoff family hunting down members of the “Spider” family in some sort of scheme that I guess will either redeem Kraven’s honor in the family’s eyes or straight up resurrect him. I’m not sure. There seems to be a lot of misdirection on the part of the Kraven family. They were straight up trying to explode Arachne with a rocket launcher in the streets of New York while they had much more elaborate and detailed plans in their hunt for Mattie Franklin, the other, OTHER Spider-Woman who sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.
But honestly, the best part of the issue for me was seeing Kaine get his ass handed to him. I’m no fan of Kaine. He oozes 90’s psuedo-cool-lameness and seeing him get beat up and sliced to ribbons was just a treat for me. Like a free dessert at a restaraunt I was already enjoying.
I’m not gonna really review this issue, I just wanted to post a picture of Black Widow’s wicked awesome “Srsly?” face as drawn by Daniel Acuna.
Seriously. Epic bitchface.
You know what? This may be the single best issue of Hulk of the decade. It’s definitely the best to come out since the Planet Hulk saga ended. It feels like the Hulk should. It’s got all the melodramatic pathos, all the internal emotional struggle worked out through unrepentant violence. In short, it’s just a really amazing piece of Hulk. So much of what happens in this issue builds off of years and years of Hulk history, so much so that every event that happens in the pages of the issue carry an emotional weight that has been missing from the series for a while. I think that running parallel to Loeb’s overblown lunacy has caused the Incredible Hulk book to suffer by association. Pak has had to work within the confines of what Loeb has been building up to with the Red Hulk identity mystery and the introduction of gamma-radiated heroes, but he maneuvers in between the raindrops of insanity here to put out a classic Hulk issue that I think people will be talking about YEARS down the line as a perfect example of what makes The Hulk work as a character.
I will admit that the issue did have a bit of sensory overload. A lot of what happens happens very, very fast and there’s a lot of information to process. That having been said, it’s not so mindbogglingly convoluted that you can’t fully understand what’s going on. Compared to something like, let’s say, last week’s issue of SHIELD which just about made my brain crap itself. (Thanks Jonathan Hickman, you magnificant bastard)
In short, it may not be a great jumping on point if you’re unfamiliar with what’s been going on, but this issue should be a treat and a half for true died-in-the-wool Hulk fans who have been waiting for an issue like this for a long, long time.
If Avengers was Bendis doing the Avengers in a more classic mold, New Avengers certainly continues the work he did in the previous volume, with all the stuff that will make Bendis haters gnash their teeth and complain until they’re blue in the face while ignoring the fact that it’s still a damned fine book that is in no way inferior to what he’s doing over in the flagship title or anything any other Avengers writer has done before him. He even has the requisite Avengers trope of having everyone sitting around the table at the Avengers mansion and talking. Which happened ALL THE MOTHERFLIPPING TIME back in the old days, so it’s not as if his “overly talky” style is in any way counter to what the Avengers have done in the past. Plus we get some serious mystical mania with Hellstorm, Strange and the new sorcerer supreme, Dr. Voodoo.
Seriously, to prepare for this review I stalked message board topics about it. Just to see what other people were thinking and I have to say that the majority of comic book readers are a bunch of jaded cynics and hypocrits who really would only be happy with any given title that they claim to love if they were working on it with an artist of their choosing. Of course then only one person would be happy with the book and the rest of us would still be complaining. Lighten up fanboys, you guys are killing me.
Also, my new comic nerd-crush is Victoria Hand. In this issue she has a big gun. She’s won my heart.
Now I have to head back into the shop for a few hours on my day off to continue pulling books for subscribers. UPS lost another one of our boxes and so there’s a few things that we have to finish up today. I swear, in between Diamond Distribution and UPS, it’s a wonder we have any comic books to complain about on a weekly basis AT ALL.
- Wolfman & Perez to make a return to TITANS [BleedingCool]
- Geoff Johns returning to Titans, too. Only tinier. [ComicsAlliance]
- Iron Man 2 to screen in IMAX [JoBlo]
- Marvel Offers Deadpool Variant for stripped DC Books [ComicBookResources]
- Gail Simone re-launching Birds of Prey in April [DCUNiverse]
- Producers eying Jackie Earle Haley for Sinestro? [CHUD]
- Sony puts the kibosh on Spidey 4, reboots franchise [ComicBookResources]
- DC to follow “Blackest Night” with bi-weekly “Brightest Day” [DCUniverse]