I am a pretty big fan of Conan. The current run at Dark Horse by Brian Wood is some of the best work the character has seen in a long time. The fact that he had some stellar runs by Kurt Busiek and Tim Truman prior shows how highly I think of the title at the moment. Now, Red Sonja has also recaptured my attention as of late. Gail Simone is doing some amazing work with the character at Dynamite. I admittedly fell off of the title a while ago, around the time they launched Queen Sonja if I recall correctly.
Now, as fans have been demanding they do so, they are coming together again for a multi-company crossover event with Gail and Brian working together to craft a story for our sword wielding heroes. CEO of Dynamite Nick Barrucci had this to say;
“Red Sonja and Conan are the power-couple of fantasy comics. They define the genre together, the iconic figures by which all others are measured. Their history is intertwined, and I suppose it was only destiny that would lead them together again. Well, that and a lot of planning alongside great folks like Mike Richardson, Gail Simone, and Brian Wood and the editorial teams from both of our companies. And the timing could not be better as this is a huge cross-over to hit as we go into our 10th Anniversary. We couldn’t be more pleased to see the Robert E. Howard legacy made whole again with two Hyboria-shaking crossover events.”
I could not agree more. The current climate is perfect for this crossover. Brian Wood is set to wrap up his run and Gail is just making her mark with the character. Interest is at a high point for both characters and creatively we couldn’t hope for much better. Brian Wood was quoted as saying;
“Conan and Red Sonja together are a genre dream team, and I’m looking forward to not only working with Gail on the story, but creating a crossover story that is epic and huge as these things should be… and something that matters, that’s relevant, and adds something to each character’s rich history.”
With Gail of course adding;
“It’s only the crossover that readers have been begging to have for over a decade: the two greatest barbarian adventurers ever created in an epic tale of blood, lust, and vengeance. This is the kind of stuff that made me a reader in the first place, and working with Brian Wood and his amazing version of Conan? It’s just a sword-and-sorcery dream come true. It’s sword vs. sword, Cimmerian vs. Hyrkanian, loincloth vs. bikini, and it’ll probably be the most fun you’ll have reading a comic all year.”
So if you’re not excited yet, you should be!
It’s been a hell of a week. Busy is the word I would use to describe it. But no in the “I have things to do” sort of way, more in the “why are so many things happening to me” sort of way. You know, viral infections, dead car battery, relationship drama; the usual. I haven’t had much time to blog it up, but thankfully things have quieted down enough that I can slip in and do some reviews. Not many, because there wasn’t a whole lot that I was interested in diving into this week just from a casual glance. As I climb deeper into the rabbit hole of reading weekly books on the regular, I’m sure the number of reviews that pile up each week will expand. That said, what I did read carried some heft, so we’ll dive right in and get right to it.
BATGIRL # 23
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Fernando Pasarin, Jonathan Glapion
Cover Artist: Alex Garner
On Sale Date: Aug 14 2013
The new “Batgirl: Wanted” epic begins here, as Commissioner Gordon must track down his son’s murderer—who happens to be his daughter! But has Barbara already given up the Bat?
I stepped away from Batgirl when Gail Simone was ceremoniously booted from the title a short while back. When she reentered the fray I neglected to jump back on board but the storyline here intrigued me enough to pick up last month’s issue as a refresher and threw this one on the stack as well. For those not in the know, Batgirl is on the hook for the death of her brother and that isn’t sitting all too well with their respective father, Commissioner Gordon. Barbara is going through much in her life at this point. She’s beginning to date a reformed criminal who can’t seem to escape his past and trying to reconcile what happened with her brother at the same time. She’s a big ball of emotions and her father is looming over her in more ways than one, needling her about staying safe and afraid of losing another child as well as chasing Batgirl down in a way that even Batman remarks is dangerously close to a vengeful tirade. The rooftop scene between Batman and the Commissioner is excellently written and gives the reader a good idea of what we can expect in terms of character beats from Jim Gordon.
That is really what drives this book and makes it such an interesting work; the character beats. Barbara is heavily conflicted here, and conflict makes for compelling reading. Barbara Gordon, at least as Batgirl, has never come across as a character who really elicits much of a response from me because she reads as cut-and-dry in most respects. I only really started to get a feel for her as a fleshed out human being when she became Oracle. We got to witness her deal with so many different types of adversities while she was in that chair in the clock-tower. Gail Simone has taken that development on the character and given us a new lens to look at Barbara. She feels full. She appears realized. She makes mistakes and deals with the consequences.
All in all, my first reaction is that I should go back and pick up what I missed to fill in the gaps, because I am enjoying what I’m reading. There are a few downsides, mostly having to do with some predictability regarding Barbara’s love interest that are far too telegraphed to be enjoyed fully on my end, but I imagine the narrative beats that will result from certain decisions will translate into some payoff in regard to Barbara’s development later down the line. At least I hope so.
INFINITY (2013) #1
Published: August 14, 2013
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Cover Artist: Adam Kubert
On Sale Date: Aug 14 2013
The oversized kickoff to the year’s most anticipate Blockbuster summer event, chaning the way you view the Marvel Universe! • The outbreak of war on two fronts: Earth and Space, with our heroes torn between them. • The world-shattering return of Thanos! • Includes material from FREE COMIC BOOK DAY: INFINITY
If you have been reading Jonathan Hickman’s run on the Avengers you may have figured out that his handling of the team is pretty much the anti-Bendis in terms of plot progression, storytelling, and theme. Hickman’s take on the book has been much like Morrison’s deconstruction of the X-Men years back. It is as different from what preceded it as you can get and yet never feels like it isn’t true to what the book should be about. Jonathan Hickman writes the Avengers as a hard intellectual sci-fi yarn, recalling elements from classic Avengers lore like the Kree-Skrull war and Infinity Gauntlet while infusing it with his very distinct creative voice. There is never a time where you are not aware that you are reading a Jonathan Hickman story. Much as Bendis has come to be associated with abundant panels and fast, snappy dialog, the elevated science fiction overtones along with deliberate pacing and neo-modern graphic design stylings clearly indicate a Hickman joint.
Those familiar with his work on the main Avengers title and therefore comfortable with his style and pacing will find Infinity to be a strong book. He takes his time and gives us freedom to enjoy the world-building that he puts on display. We are introduced to an abundance of alien races and evil machinations. We only see the Avengers on panel for perhaps 1/4 of the book’s length. Front and center instead are the actions of our antagonists, razing worlds and infiltrating the highest order of the Inhuman’s stronghold of Attilan in a meticulously plotted cerebral espionage sequence. What I am trying to say is that people who are looking for the whiz-bang pacing of a Secret Invasion, World War Hulk, etc. may find themselves disappointed at the way the first issue plays out. I personally enjoyed it and I will do my best to explain why without sounding like a total idiot.
The first issue played out, for the most part, like an episode of a TV show. The story beats are concise and structured for maximum effect, but it is the final pages of the book, where we see our heroes putting a plan into action and a final page cliffhanger that could easily have been followed with a meme image of Michael from Arrested Development saying “I Have Made A Huge Mistake” where things really clicked for me. You see, those last few pages didn’t feel like part of the narrative of this issue so much as a quick flash of what’s to come, similar to a “Next Week on MARVEL” montage at the end of a TV show. The pacing and the implications make for effective drama, and while Infinity # 1 is definitely a slow burn, it is also very much indicative of a quality mini-series that seeks to tell its story in a very deliberate way.
Simply put, Hickman delivers a standout first issue that couldn’t be further from what I have come to expect from a Marvel event series while at the same time giving me everything I want from a Marvel event series.
Rating: 4 out of 5
It started small: temporary gravity failures, time reversal loops, entropy reversals. With much fanfare a new government agency was formed with a mandate “to prevent and protect.” Its official title: The Federal Bureau of Physics. Humans, if nothing else, adapt to the changing parameters of their existence. What was extraordinary soon became ordinary, a part of people’s daily lives. They move on and do what people have always done: survive. But even that new status quo is now under threat. Things are getting worse, and it falls to Special Agent Adam Hardy and his FBP team to figure out what’s going on, before it’s too late…
I know I’m late to the party on this one but following all the hubbub surrounding the abrupt title change (Beginning with issue 2, Collider will be renamed to FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics) I decided to throw this one on the reading pile and give it a go. Writer Simon Oliver has done work previously for Vertigo on Hellblazer and The Exterminators and while I may have read his work before I cannot remember if I formulated an opinion so I am going into this 100% blind.
Collider feels like a Vertigo book. It takes a premise and runs with it. There is mystery and the promise of expanded world building and solid character work along the way with artwork that, were it on a mainstream book, would be decried for not fitting the mold. As it stands, it is a fine book. The premise, that the foundation of universally accepted laws of physics are starting to crumble and the fallout surrounding that hornet’s nest, is one worth delving into. It hooks you and keeps you there until the end. I’ve read comments about the book being boring but I had no such qualm with the book. But then again, I enjoyed Sweet Tooth and that book was admittedly a chore to get through sometimes.
For regular devotees of Vertigo content, this will not disappoint. For those who fall more squarely in line with the mainstream, I’m not so sure you’ll enjoy this one. It has all of the hallmarks that most people mock “indy” comics for; strange yet alluring artwork, strange premise, heightened dialog… you get the idea.
I don’t want to write much about it because I feel people will enjoy it more if they just go in blind. It’s sometimes the best way to enjoy a work of art and I’ll wager that this is the sort of book that benefits heavily from a clean frame of mind. It certainly helped when I read it, as I had zero knowledge of the title when I turned the cover. Whatever you do, just don’t dismiss it outright. Give it a chance.
Rating: 3 and 1/2 out of 5
It’s been a while since I’ve done any weekly comic reviews, but with day-and-date digital becoming more common it’s easier for me to do timely reviews for you folks. I hope to keep a regular schedule when I can, with new reviews available every Thursday. I would have kept to that schedule this week but I was involved in an auto accident and have been dealing with the fallout from that little debacle.
Anyhow, here’s some reviews!
Here’s one I was looking forward to. Gail Simone has hardly ever steered me wrong. Just about every book she’s written I’ve given golden reviews to because she knows how to balance character, plot, and wit with equal measure to the betterment of any book she’s placed on. She’s one of the biggest talents that DC has and it’s nice that she’s getting one of the most high-profile books of the relaunch to play with as her own.
The book begins with a mystery villain called “The Mirror” assaulting a man who he believes cheated death when he escaped a sinking boat where the rest of the souls aboard perished. He then proceeds to rectify this problem by drowning the man with a water hose. I don’t want to make any Final Destination jokes because I only vaguely remember watching the third one one night on Showtime when I couldn’t sleep and therefore don’t have a whole lot of reference but it does seem like a strikingly similar concept and I would be a bit disappointed in its inclusion if it didn’t tie in well with the idea of the overall plot, being that Barbara Gordon is on the list of people who should have died; an obvious first reference to The Killing Joke that will probably drive a lot of the drama as the series unfolds.
We then are treated to Batgirl doing her thing and taking down a particularly vicious group of serial murderers all the while getting glimpses of Barbara’s mindset in the process. The internal monologue here gives us a good idea of who this Batgirl is in the scheme of the new DCU. I have to admit that a lot of Barbara’s dialogue and internal thought process felt…off. Not particularly wrong but just a bit off base. I’m not going to lie, she has some lines that seemed more in tune with Frank Miller’s DKR Batman than what you would expect with Batgirl, but I’m thinking it may be more of Barbara trying to effect a different persona while on patrol than a struggle to find her voice on the part of Simone.
Compared to last week’s JLA # 1, this is a stellar intro issue. We don’t get many answers as to why Barbara is able to walk again or much in the way of true world building but we get the foundation laid for those things to emerge organically which I find to be far more important. The only problem I found with the book really was that a lot of the dialog felt a bit over-the-top in what seemed like an attempt to feel more like the silver-age comic book writing of the seventies. It felt jarring at some points, especially on the last page where a Gotham cop shouts some dialog that feels like it belongs on the cover of a sixties-era Detective Comics issue. But it’s not enough to dissuade me from finishing out the rest of the arc and perhaps staying on for the long haul.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Listen, I’m a fairly big Green Arrow fan. I’ve got a complete run of the title going back to Grell’s run in the eighties. I think he’s one of the best B-list under-the-radar characters that DC had for a while and I appreciated his push to the forefront of the DCU in recent years but lamented the fact that it diluted his character and made him somewhat less interesting as a consequence. I was happy to see him married to Black Canary but saddened by how mediocre that book was aside from some amazing art on the first arc by Cliff Chiang.
This book gives us a reinvention of Green Arrow that I don’t find particularly interesting. They’re touting him as sort of a vigilante Steve Jobs and they’ve given him a personality that falls more closely in line with the Smallville interpretation of the character. I can’t fault them for doing this as that is the version that most of the mainstream identifies with but at the same time for those of us who have been reading Green Arrow for over ten years it’s hard to swallow. It doesn’t feel like Oliver Queen. It may have worked with a new character, but for Green Arrow fans its a disappointment.
The story is nothing to write home about, Ollie is overseas in Paris stalking some low-grade super-villains and it seems mostly written as a way to introduce his methodology and support team which includes his own personal Oracle-who’s-not-Oracle and a pacifist weapons developer. Oliver’s belief system is still intact from previous versions of the character but his attitude has changed. I know that this is an all new continuity but there seems to be almost too much overhaul here. It would have been nice if there were more balance between the old and new on display but as it stands there’s not much to interest already established fans of the character and therein lies one of the problems of the relaunch. They’re hoping to bring in new readers but they’re only going to be replacing the old readers they’re alienating with the changes. I’m not going to be sticking around for this title, for example, despite the fact that I have been on-board for about as long as I’ve been collecting. That should say something.
Overall Rating: 2/5
I fully expected to hate this. I really did. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t enjoy this one quite a bit. Is it the “bwaha-ha-ha” style of the original? No, it’s something different. The dynamic here works, though. Also, unlike JLA#1 we get the whole team assembled within the first issue AND thrown into their first mission. It’s not very decompressed the way that some other books have been. It’s got a brisk pace and a lot is established in the very first issue.
Booster Gold leads the team, chosen because he’s a glory hound who can be easily controlled by the UN so that his PR image doesn’t get tarnished, and this immediately sets up some conflict with resident Green Lantern Guy Gardner. In a few panels we get to know everyone’s feelings on each other. It’s a nice quick buildup and helps establish characters that most people might not be familiar with in a short little exchange of dialog. It works. I will admit that there’s not much in the way of explaining the backstories of a lot of these characters. I am willing to bet new readers will be confused as to exactly who Godiva is and what the hell she’s doing on the team, but this is a serialized medium and I’m sure things will be fleshed out as the series progresses.
This one could easily be one of my favorites of the relaunch because it isn’t written in a way that makes it feel decompressed or empty. There is a lot to like in this book. If you want bang for your buck, this is one of the titles I suggest you pick up. Really. Plus it has Batman and you know you need more Batman.
Overall Rating: 4/5
I was hesitant to read this one. Tony Daniel is not high on my list of most-admired Bat-writers. His recent run on Batman was pretty much horrible. I almost dropped it entirely until I realized I’m pathetic and need a complete unbroken run in my boxes because I’m a nerd like that. So it was with reluctance that I picked this one up. Though I did it entirely for review purposes. Because I love you guys.
It’s not a bad book.
There, I said it.
Of course it’s a Joker story, because you have to come out of the box hot and capitalize on what people are expecting and the new DCU needs to establish the Joker as much as it does Batman early on or people will think things are amiss. It’s the sort of well-established formula Joker story we’ve seen before but at the same time it feels well put together and cohesive in a way we haven’t seen in a while. It’s sort of like a forced in-continuity version of Brubaker’s Man Who Laughs with more focus on Batman’s drive to be a good enough detective to anticipate what the Joker can and will do.
We also establish Batman’s relationship with the police. That is to say, he and Gordon are buddies and everyone else wants to shoot him repeatedly. It’s a classic dynamic that I think most Bat-fans will appreciate because it’s what they’re used to and at the same time it feels like an organic part of the idea of Batman. That he works in the shadows and people are immediately distrustful of him. It adds something to the character when he’s working alone and under the radar. How this jibes with there being so many other members of the Batfamily operating at the same time is yet to be seen but at the moment it seems to work just fine.
It’s not the best Batman story ever, but it’s a strong enough effort coming out of the gate that I have to tip my hat to Tony Daniel for upping his game. He really did a good job with this one, which is not something that’s easy to do when so much is riding on a single issue. So, kudos.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
This is the big one. The one that I was anticipating above all others. Grant Morrison back on a Superman book. I was anticipating All Star levels of amazing. I was hoping that finally Superman would be getting the sort of widespread attention he deserved and not for shitty PR stunts like rejecting American citizenship or walking across America like a hobo. I was hoping for a total reinvention of the Superman mythos in a single issue and a literary orgasm.
Was it all that? Not really, but it was still one of the best books to come out of this relaunch. This new young Superman, fresh into the world and looking to make a difference, isn’t what you would expect out of Superman. There’s more edge and attitude to him than you would expect. The way he intimidates criminals, which is something he’s always done but albeit more playfully, makes him seem as if he’s working from Batman’s playbook and so when he transitions back into Clark Kent the shift is so much more immediate and dynamic. It’s a change that I agree with, although seeing as this is sort of a “year one” story for the character I don’t think it will stay forever, it’s too much of a change to be entirely permanent.
We also learn that he’s still friends with Jimmy Olsen but in a shocking turn of events he’s working for a rival newspaper and Lois Lane doesn’t like the idea of Mr. Kent beating her on a scoop. Lois only appears for a few panels here but she’s still the same spunky independent woman that she’s always been and I hope that in coming issues we’ll get more of her because Morrison truly does write her well, even in short snippets.
My favorite element of the issue however was Morrison’s Lex Luthor, seen here working in conjecture with the government to bring down Superman. He’s relaxed and sure of himself with no sign of bluster or bombast. This is the same Lex Luthor that we saw in All Star. The sort of man who would be bemused at the idea of finding himself on death row. A man with a plan. He executes a Goldberg machine style plan to bring down Superman that ends in an amazing final page cliffhanger and I simply cannot wait for the next issue.
Seriously. Buy this book. Or I will hurt you.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
And there you have it. Next week should see more reviews for your reading pleasure. See you then.
I know that this year has been a bit different when it comes to the content I’ve posted on the blog. After leaving my job at the comic shop back in December I had to make the painful decision to alter my comic buying habits to accommodate my new lifestyle. As such, I’ve been getting my comics from an online retailer, mailed out once a month and as such I haven’t had much luck posting real reviews on a timely basis. It’s just a sad byproduct of my current situation. Another byproduct has been the steady decline of my interest in the mainstream comics scene. I have, sadly, been dropping titles I once considered vital with each passing month and have instead been focusing on creator-owned work that manages to resonate with me more than anything that DC or Marvel sends down the chute every month.
I never thought I’d see the day that I’d say this but I may just be done with DC comics. Lately the only books that I can say I’ve enjoyed fully are Morrison’s Batman Inc., Palmiotti & Gray’s Jonah Hex, Cornell’s Action Comics and Gail Simone’s Secret Six. Roberson’s handling of the Superman book has also been admireable. But that’s five books out of a line that will see 52 titles jump started with a new # 1 issue.
Dan Didio was quotes in the USA Today article as saying:
In September, more than 50 more first issues will debut, introducing readers to stories that are grounded in each character’s specific legend but also reflect today’s real-world themes and events. Lee spearheaded the redesign of more than 50 costumes to make characters more identifiable and accessible to comic fans new and old.
“We looked at what was going on in the marketplace and felt we really want to inject new life in our characters and line,” says Dan DiDio, who co-publishes DC with Lee. “This was a chance to start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today’s audience.”
Fans around the internet have been in an uproar over this and I have to say that I understand where some of them are coming from, in light of this news coupled with the rumors that have been coming out that have not yet been substantiated such as Lois & Clark’s marriage being lost in the new continuity as well as several creative team changes that are less than exciting including a possible loss of Gail Simone from Birds of Prey. The last time that happened it sucked just about all the energy from the book and it was left to die a slow death. On the other hand Grant Morrison is rumored to be taking over the central Superman title and it is confirmed we will be getting a Justice League book written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Jim Lee, in a move that clearly parallels Marvel’s decision to put Bendis on New Avengers several years ago.
The problem I have with the Justice League book being handled by Johns & Lee, aside from the fact that the creative team is almost begging for publishing delays, is that it seems like they’re aping Marvel’s formula several years after it has already gotten stale. Granted, DC could never make such a move any time after Marvel does anything similar because it’s either too soon or too late after the fact for it not to seem like a stunt or playing catch up. My philosophy when it comes to the DC v. Marvel debate comes down to the way Marvel treats its writers. They sell the writers in a way that makes them out to be superstars. Marvel presents their writers as the A-list. The cream of the crop. Brian Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Dan Slott, Jason Aaron, Nick Spencer, et. al are sold as being equal commodities to the characters they write. DC does not seem to do the same for their writers outside of Morrison or Johns. They have a SMATTERING of amazing talent in people like Chris Roberson, Matt Sturges, Gail Simone, Paul Cornell, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, and so many others. But you don’t see DC publicizing them like walking gods of creativity the way Marvel does with their stable.
The whole line-wide reboot thing reads like a desperate stunt. DC loves to pull stunts. The repeated weekly series plan alone shows that. This stunt in particular will alienate a great deal of the fanbase and probably lose them for a good long time. They say that the point of all this is to garner new readers by eliminating the confusion surrounding certain characters and their continuity but they are failing to understand the simple reason why the comics market isn’t viable to younger readers and that’s that comic books are not cost effective to the consumer.
The article in USA today also mentions that beginning in September, DC comics will be going same-day release with digital and print copies. This is a major leap forward in the digital market but raises even more questions. Are the digital comics going to be significantly cheaper than the print counterparts? If DC wants to make me pay full price for a copy of the new Superman # 1 at $2.99 when I can get it from an online retailer for anywhere from a 10-40% discount, then what is the impetus for me to switch to digital? The price debate is probably the most important hurdle that the comics industry will have to face in the coming years. I bought a blu-ray movie yesterday for $8.99. That’s two plus hours of entertainment plus special features for roughly ten dollars with tax applied. A comic book is 20 pages of content for about $3.25 after taxes are applied and the best case scenario is usually a ten minute read-time if there’s actually any dense content to the book. If you’re trying to attract new readers, you have to give them more bang for their buck. I respect DC for trying to lower the cost of buying comics, but the content provided for the price is a huge turnoff to people who aren’t already hooked. Add to that the fact that comics aren’t readily available anywhere outside of specialized shops and you’ve got a major dilemma. All the continuity stunts in the world will not save you from that pitfall. Comics are being displayed at Barnes and Noble now, but I’ve seen that selection and it’s not very impressive and not too well organized.
I don’t want to sound like a doomsayer, foretelling the end of comics or anything like that. The industry will adapt and survive in some manner, because too much money stands to be lost if they don’t. But the logic that has gone into DC’s latest stunt boggles the mind of anyone who takes the time to look at it carefully. Perhaps this whole article will be rendered worthless when more information becomes available. I hope everything does work out for the best. I still have friends who work in the retail level of the industry, and all the writers and artists who I’ve developed a rapport with since developing this blog don’t deserve to see their chosen profession crumble because the companies don’t know how to adapt. All I can do is sit and wait and see if what DC has to offer is worth paying for.
So we have a Wonder Woman. Adrianne Palicki (which is a last name sure to invite nerd-drooling innuendo for the foreseeable future) has been reportedly cast as the Amazonian princess in David Kelley’s adaptation of Wonder Woman set to air on NBC. Palicki stands at 5’11” and has the build necessary to pull off the character believably though she’s going to have to spend some time with a dye pack to get her hair to the jet-black sheen we’re used to seeing with Wonder Woman. All that truly is in question right now is how well she will be able to portray the character. I do not have any real idea of how well she can play the part as I honestly haven’t seen her in anything live-action, my only experience with her in any form is from her voice work in bits on Robot Chicken and Titan Maximum. Apparently she was in an episode of Smallville once upon a time but nothing about that show really left much of an impression on me other than how badly I want to make out with Allison Mack, because let’s face it, that woman is amazing.
So now we have our Wonder Woman, and the vocal Wondy fans will likely spend the next few months complaining about it as I’ve learned that Wonder Woman fans are 90% psychotic. Their obsession with the minutia of her character is unparalleled and this is equally insane due to the fact that Wonder Woman has to be the least consistent character in the DC universe, paling only in comparison to Donna Troy who herself is part of the Wonder Woman continuity clusterfuck. I’m not saying I don’t like the character, as I’ve got a pretty much a full run of her issues from the moment George Perez took over following the first Crisis through Rucka’s run up through Simone’s and even currently through this current JMS debacle but I’ll be damned if I ever met a Wonder Woman fan who didn’t make me raise my eyebrows and inch for the door just ever so slightly.
The new novel is almost finished…again. See, this is what happens when I work in “Drafts.” So in between that, school, work, and a revitalized social life that includes actually having to go outside of the house for stuff like concerts (on Thursday nights), don’t be surprised if the blog starts to lie dormant for chunks of time. I try to avoid it but I’m a one man operation here. That having been said, I’m not gonna deny you guys the comic reviews you so deserve. By that I mean that I’m going back to the old format of cherry-picking what issues to review instead of doing the whole stack because it’s getting harder to go through the whole stack in a single evening.
AVENGERS ACADEMY #5 2.99
BOYS #47 (MR) 3.99
BUFFY VAMPIRE SLAYER #37 LAST GLEAMING PT 2 (OF 5) 2.99
CHAOS WAR #1 (OF 5) 3.99
DEADPOOLMAX #1 (MR) 3.99
HAWKEYE & MOCKINGBIRD #5 2.99
JSA ALL STARS #11 3.99
SECRET SIX #26 2.99
SHADOWLAND SPIDER-MAN #1 SL 3.99
STARMAN OMNIBUS HC VOL 05 49.99
ULTIMATE COMICS THOR #1 (OF 4) 3.99
UNCANNY X-FORCE #1 3.99
WOLVERINE #2 3.99
YOUNG ALLIES #5 2.99
And let’s get this show on the road:
Garth Ennis is underrated when it comes to giving us character moments that stay with the reader in their gut long after they’ve finished reading the issue. Here we get the inevitable confrontation between Hughie and his superhero girlfriend for the first time since he found out she was a supe and since he saw her “initiation” video into the Seven where she did more with her mouth than give a convincing presentation of her resume.
The pathos and emotion on display between Hughie and Starlight here is gutwrenching. While Garth Ennis is able to craft visceral gore and violence with reckless abandon, his ability to make you care for the characters he writes is generally overlooked, which is a huge shame because it’s stuff like this that shows what the serialized medium of comics is capable of pulling off with a competent writer at the helm. This issue has been building for some time. It’s not rushed, it hasn’t been drawn out or decompressed, it’s simply been building to a boiling point.
This may be some of Garth Ennis’ best work. I know it’s not as roundly applauded as Preacher or Punisher Max, but it is probably his most carefully crafted since Preacher ended and I think that in the end people will recognize it for the treasure that it truly is.
I am happy to see Hercules back. I truly am. I love the guy. As far as this particular issue, I’m not so sold on the event after the premiere as I was with Shadowland a few months ago. I think that Greg Pak and company did a good job of getting us pumped up for some good old fashioned theological thrashing in what is coming down the road, but there was no big moment that made me step firmly on board with the series. That’s not to say that it’s a bad issue, there is some good stuff set up here, and it’s bound to get much more epic as it goes on. I simply think that a good portion of people are going to be underwhelmed by the debut issue, as not a whole lot really happens. It’s a setup issue pure and simple.
The question this series needs to answer is whether or not the setup is going to pay off. This is going to be one of those series that won’t have a whole lot of impact on the larger Marvel universe the way that Shadowland will because the Marvel Gods don’t seem to get a whole lot of focus in the grand scheme of things unless they somehow relate to Thor, but seeing how Fraction is doing his own thing with the Thor-verse, the reverberations of this series will have to be felt elsewhere, and unless they relaunch an ongoing Herc series, I’m not sure where that will be.
This is the one people have been waiting a good long while for. We’ve wanted some unrestrained Deadpool action forever and we finally get it courtesy of Kyle Baker and David Lapham. In the first issue however, we don’t actually get a whole lot of Wade Wilson. We get a lot more Agent Bob and sodomy. The violence is there, as is the swearing and the sexual situations. It’s definitely a max book. What seems to be lacking is, well, Deadpool. He really only shows up for maybe 5% off the book.
What remains to be seen is how this book will work out in regard to how they want to portray Deadpool. I doubt he’ll be breaking the fourth wall or being as goofy as he is in the 616. We already know from this issue that Deadpool will be treated more as a government assassin than a freelance merc for hire, and that he’s more mentally damaged and dangerous than gutlaugh funny. This book follows the pervasive Marvel trend of waiting until issue two to give us the full picture of what the series will end up being like in the long run. Luckily, the first issue was entertaining enough that I won’t feel like an idiot for picking up issue three.
Jonathan Hickman can do no wrong apparently. According to the internets, Kurt Busiek doens’t like him but he seems to be the lone dissenting voice. With Ultimate Comics Thor he gives us a look into the origins of the Ulimate U’s version of Thor and it seems to be a basic mirror of the regular Thor, except in the Ultimate scheme of things, there are a lot more nazis.
This series is likely going to be one of the best to come out of the Ultimate relaunch. It’s obvious that this one is being produced to be shoved into a hardcover and rushed into bookstores around the time the Thor film hits theaters. I’m not sure how that worked for the Black Widow miniseries from Paul Cornell, but it seems like a smart enough move. It helps that it’s a damned good read. If you’re going to try to introduce someone to a character, you could do worse than the setup they use here. It’s integrated enough into the Ultimate Universe that those with familiarity will be able to place it in continuity, but new readers will be able to jump in just as easily. That’s not an easy feat, no matter what universe you’re working in.
This one is the winner of the week. Rick Remender may be Marvel’s new secret weapon, as the man has yet to produce a book that doesn’t totally kick all sorts of ass. He’s managed to make Deadpool funny without being over the top. He’s made X-Force not seem like a cliche. He’s managed to give X-Force a purpose beyond being an unnecessary ancilliary title predicated on having a place where Wolverine can stab people with reckless abandon.
I was originally going to skip out on this one. The last X-Force title did nothing for me. Everything about it pretty much went against my established sensibilities. I was afraid this was going to be more of the same. I should have known better. Rick Remender, who is rapidly climbing the ladder of my favorite writers following Last Days of American Crime and FrankenCastle, brings us a new X-Force that seems fresh and new, despite building off of plot threads that have been hanging for quite some time. (Archangel, people. Archangel) And while it definitely plays off some rich history, it isn’t like say, New Mutants, where people unfamiliar with the original story of Inferno might be a little bit lost with the new storyline.
So, long story short, pretty please, go buy the damn book.
And that does it for this week. Join us next time when hopefully DC puts something out worth Reviewing. (I’d review Secret Six, but c’mon, you know how I feel about that book. I’d marry it if I could.)
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!