I really enjoyed the last Hawkeye series with Mockingbird. I’m not a huge fan of the character and so I don’t mind seeing different takes on him from different writers. I’m certainly not going to pitch a bitch about the way Marvel used him in The Avengers on YouTube the way some people did. I will admit that the current re-design of his costume strips him of some of what makes him visually unique, but his costume is systemic of the current trend in comics where a stripped down sense of utilitarian design work is en vogue. However, a costume does not make the character. So is the book focused on a character worth reading about?
Matt Fraction and David Aja reteam and bring back some of the magic they worked with Immortal Iron Fist on a character who needs a steady hand more than just about any solo character in Marvel’s stable. With his profile raised considerably because of his appearance in The Avengers Hawkeye needs to validate his own existence somewhat. He isn’t a particularly interesting character most of the time. He’s a side dish to the main entree in team books. He’s someone who is born to share the spotlight. Fraction luckily is one of those writers who really knows how to dig deep and find the things that work about a character and this is one of his strongest debut works since Iron Fist or Invincible Iron Man. I personally have been enjoying the majority of his work but will admit that he can fall into a little bit of a lull sometimes. His Uncanny X-Men run was about 50/50 and Fear Itself had none of his usual flair.
With Hawkeye, Fraction seems to get back to the nitty gritty. We get maybe a page and a half of Barton in costume and the rest of the issue follows his exploits while he’s not on duty. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t a hero story. It isn’t about him going to pick up milk or wash his car. Instead we get a closer look at how Barton views himself; in the context of his role as an Avenger, in the shadow of Captain America, and as a simple man without powers standing next to men who can shatter planets. Fraction utilizes the first issue to tell a stand-alone story that explains why Barton does the things he does and where his moral code comes from. And Fraction tells us more about Barton through the way he treats a simple dog than most writers do with an entire series worth of heroic exploits. I know some might say its a cheap trick to play the wounded animal card, but Fraction nails it and nobody can really deny how effective the issue is.
I was planning on giving the series a pass entirely but the first issue was good enough that I can see myself following it through. I know for a fact that there are less deserving books that I’ve stuck with for the duration. I figure this one isn’t going to disappoint me anytime soon.
I’ve been reading The Avengers on a monthly basis since a little before Bendis pulled the whole Disassembled thing. Looking back on it, that’s a lot of time to invest into a title. Couple that with the fact that I stuck with Bendis’ handling of the team through both the New and Mighty Avengers titles and then the “Heroic Age” relaunch and that’s a lot of time spent reading his take on the franchise. I’ll admit that for me, Bendis is the name I will probably always associate with Avengers. I’ve gone back and read most of the pivotal runs and I think only Kurt Busiek’s run matches it in density and enjoyability. Though there are some classic Silver Age moments that I quite enjoy.
I had to drop both of the Avengers titles shortly after the relaunch because of monetary issues. A lot of really good books got chopped, actually. But with the movie recently in theaters I thought it would be a good idea to re-examine some prominent Avengers stories once again and so here we are.
The 2010 volume of Avengers begins in the wake of Marvel’s “Siege” storyline where Norman Osborn’s reign as the leader of SHIELD/HAMMER comes to a close and the status quo reverts to something more akin to what longtime readers were familiar with, this time with Steve Rogers in the role previously filled by Nick Fury and assembling two separate Avengers teams. This volume deals with the more “traditional” Avengers featuring Iron Man, Hawkeye, Thor, etc. with holdovers from the previous volume of New Avengers in Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, and Wolverine.
The book still maintains much of what made Bendis’ run on the first volume of New Avenger such a success, ie. his dialog. He’s especially gifted at writing witty banter and makes good use of characters like Hawkeye, Spider-man, and the more garrulous members of the team. This time around however, there is less focus on grounded street level action and the plot is driven by BIG ideas that the Avengers series seem to thrive on. In this particular volume, we get a broken timestream and alternate realities. We get classic Avengers villains like Ultron and Kang. It’s everything longtime fans of the book should love.
The principle complaint against the book is that Bendis cannot write with his trademark style and manage that sort of plotting. I would argue that this isn’t true. Working with John Romita Jr, the layouts and flow seem to work as well as they ever have with a story of this type. While the artwork does seem more sketchy and rough around the edges than I would really like out of Romita, he does a serviceable job making sure that Bendis’ story comes to life on the page.
My major issue with these six issues is that the book does seem to have too much going on for its own good. The chaos in one timestream seems to suck the energy from the parallel plot and as such the story reads somewhat uneven. It’s not a bad story, it just isn’t very even. In regards to assembling a new team, the book sets up the new status quo quite well. We get a very good idea of what the book is going to do very quickly. You just have to decide for yourself whether it is up your alley.
I know I probably should have gotten this out there on, oh, Friday before everybody went and saw it. I know that. But at the same time, I think this is a film I needed to digest a little bit before I put my thoughts down on it. And by “digest” I mean, see it again. As of this writing I’ve experienced the film in both standard format and 3D. Each of these showings was packed to the brim. The first was on Friday at the first showing of the day at 10 in the morning. The next was a Saturday show at 1 PM. I need to point this out because the biggest surprise about The Avengers is that it even exists in the first place. The amount of planning and preparation that went into developing a crossover of this magnitude is mind boggling. There have been crossover films before this. Godzilla and King Kong fought it out, Freddy and Jason slashed at each other, the list goes on. It’s not that big a deal for cinematic properties to come together. What is unique is the idea of using individual characters and their films as a roadmap to an eventual crossover. In the world of cinema, it’s a miracle that it ever got made. Even more impressive is that Marvel was able to bring the viewing audience around as well. They sold the idea of this being on of the biggest movies ever and the audiences turned up. They invested their time in it. This is a movie that has been on everyone’s minds for close to five years. Ever since the end of Iron Man when Samuel L. Jackson walked in the room and told the world that the Marvel universe was going to be a shared experiment. This film is important.
That having been said, is it any good? I’m happy to say that everything you want out of this movie you will receive. Joss Whedon handles it as well as you would expect and we may finally have the shining definition of what it means to bring a comic book to life on screen. The final act is like watching a collection of “hell yeah” splash pages from a Marvel crossover brought to life. The film does not skirt the fact that comic books are writ large and with joyous bombast. The action sequences are everything that Michael Bay wishes he could accomplish. They are loud, they are big and at the same time they have a sense of direction that is managed and easy to follow. You never get confused watching the carnage and for that we should be thankful.
But what I really want to talk about is the character moments. The time between Norse gods fighting men in iron suits. Joss Whedon gives us a movie where the time spent with these character simply talking to each other are as gripping as the action sequences and set pieces. The interplay between these actors is something that holds the film together in a way that without it, the whole experiment would fail. Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo’s respectful banter is a highlight. Hell, anything Mark Ruffalo does is a highlight. I know folks liked Edward Norton but Ruffalo brings something that has always been missing from the big screen portrayal of Banner in the previous incarnations. He manages to portray Banner as a person who is angry at his own anger and yet somehow accepting of it all at the same time and he may very well be the MVP of the film. Downey does his usual great work with Stark, but here he really sells the trans-formative arcs that propel his character forward, and seeing him bounce of Chris Evans’ Captain America is a joy to watch. I will admit that I feel as if Evans didn’t get much to do until the final act when he really gets to shine as a team leader, but in a movie with this many characters to juggle it is a small conceit. Also, Tom Hiddleston needs some awards. All of them, really. Loki was a great villain in Thor, mainly because of Hiddleston’s ability to play the wounded creature. He was a tormented soul and that made him fun to watch. Here we get to see what happens when the soul is tormented for so long that it snaps. He plays the broken soul just as well and he sells it like nobody’s business.
The film is everything it needs to be and then some. There will be those who complain about the run-time or the way characters are handled but in the end this is a big win for Marvel and a bigger win for people who still enjoy the spectacle of seeing a true summer blockbuster on the big screen. I do not doubt that I’ll see it at least one more time in the theater because this is definitely a film that benefits from a big screen. I might even shell out the cash to see it in IMAX. It’s that good.
Yesterday I bought a statue. Yeah. I didn’t have a whole lot of comics this week to put my money into so I bought that Bowen designed Kitty Pryde with Lockheed statue. It’s amazing. Okay, well, I didn’t BUY it as much as make a down payment because the thing is expensive as hell. But it’s a twelve inch statue so I should have expected the damned price to be up there in the multiple digits. I’m rambling again. This happens usually whenI know there’s not much in the way of substance to put into the review section. Check out the pull list and guess why.
BATGIRL #16 2.99
HALCYON #2 2.99
LADY MECHANIKA #1 2.99
NEW AVENGERS #7 3.99
SHADOWLAND AFTER FALL #1 3.99
THOR #618 3.99
THOR MIGHTY AVENGER #7 2.99
WIDOWMAKER #1 (OF 4) 3.99
Yeah, a whopping eight books total. You can thank the light week for the reviews being on time at least, I suppose that counts for something.
I’m really glad I picked this up. This book is a perfect example of the world that exists due to a series of books having been published over time. Specifically this is the child that Watchmen, Wildcats, The Authority, and The Ultimates spawned. As an Image title, we expect a certain tone and attitude from the book, and it’s there in place but at the same time it seems to be making a statement on the way modern comics work. The story of malice being erased and thus making the superheroes obsolete runs parallel to the current feeling that perhaps the overwhelming negativity and bleak cynicism of the modern comic reader is making them obsolete as well. The book seems to be working out in a way that champions the idea of things running their course in due time. It’s a thesis that warns that if things don’t change, nature will erase their usefulness.
It’s good to see Image is publishing so many great titles again. Image more than any company has re-invented itself in the last few years. With Invincible, Chew, The Walking Dead, as well as new titles like this one and Morning Glories, they’ve proved that there is an audience for books that don’t fit the mold that Marvel and DC seem to have poured by pushing writers like Bendis and Johns to the forefront. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with either of those writers, it can’t be argued that they don’t write for the masses in a way that makes the overall product seem diluted and repetitive.
Halcyon, along with the rest of the Image books I’m addicted to at the moment, do a great job of breaking from the norm and that is where their true value lies.
Aspen Comics have a certain tone in the same way that Image books do. There is a pattern that is followed in the style that tries to echo that of the late Michael Turner. The artists seem to subscribe to his school of thought in the way they design and push the product. Michael Turner was a nice guy who I was lucky enough to meet before his untimely passing and it pains me to speak ill of the departed but I was never a fan of his style when it came to interior artwork. I love his covers, and always will. It’s the same with Alex Ross in that regard. But the Turner style doesn’t do anything for me as far as interior storytelling. There’s shades of his work here in Lady Mechanika but at the same time it’s not a carbon copy. While I find that the style is all too familiar, as is the steampunk setting, the book itself is interesting and does a good job of giving us interesting characters that feel developed enough to care about, which is a problem a lot of books can’t seem to overcome.
I can say that steampunk fans will immediately love this book, as far as anybody else, that remains to be seen. I think fans of Warren Ellis would enjoy the backwards retro-science sensibilities of the story and I think fans of Turner would appreciate the style and tone. The uninitiated could go either way. It’s $2.99, so you could do worse for your dollar. That much is certain.
This issue is nothing but talking but all of that is okay because Squirrel Girl is in this issue. So is D-Man. Seriously, for that alone you ought to pick this one up. I can’t really go into more detail than that because I’m still fanboy-ing out over the Squirrel Girl thing. Bendis basically implied that she and Wolverine did the horizontal mambo, so he’s my hero at the moment.
Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.Blah Blah Blah, I have nothing to say that doesn’t include Squirrel Girl.
While I’m sad to see Hawkeye and
Black Canary Mockingbird go, at least they’re getting a proper sendoff in what seems to be one of the more intriguing miniseries of the last few months. Someone is killing off spies in the Marvel universe and so Hawkeye, Mockingbird, her team of espionage masters and the Black Widow must team up to stop it all before it’s too late. The premise is simple but the manner that the action is handled makes it a step above what it might have been under lesser writers. The fact that they’re dealing with the Ronin identity that Hawkeye took up for a while makes me happy, as I was wondering what the hell they were going to be doing with that following Barton’s return to his original mantle.
New readers should be able to follow the action easily, it’s not so entrenched in any particular character’s lore to the point where you can’t pick up the plot threads. Everything seems to be handled organically within the story in a way that makes it seem like the first issue of a new ongoing series. They know they have to inform new readers but they don’t spend time bombarding you with unnecessary exposition. That sort of thing kills momentum and its better to just go with the flow in instances such as these.
And that’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed my words.
Joblo is reporting this morning that Jeremy Renner, he of The Hurt Locker fame, is officially on board as Hawkeye in the upcoming Avengers maga-film. I think it’s pretty darn good casting. He’s got the look for it, and the attitude. What remains to be seen is whether or not they’re going to go the Ultimate route or the 616 original. Does this man truly have the balls to wear a blue and purple scale-mail jumpsuit and hop around shooting a bow and arrow? If he does, he’s more of a man than I am because I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing Hawkeye’s uniform.
So what we have so far for an Avengers team is this : Nick Fury, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye and the possibility of War Machine and Black Widow. Will Ant-Man and the Wasp show up? Is the Hulk still a factor? I don’t know. I just know that the film is shaping up to be something really interesting, but we still have Thor and Cap’s solo films before the Avengers hit the screen, so that’s plenty of time to blindly speculate on what could happen before they ever get filming.
Ladies and gentlemen, I drank a 1/2 gallon of Gatorade yesterday. I am more hydrated than I have been in my entire life and I’m pretty sure my brain is suffering because of it. So small talk be damned, it’s review time.
AVENGERS PRIME #1 (OF 5) HA 3.99
FRANKEN-CASTLE #17 2.99
HAWKEYE & MOCKINGBIRD #1 HA 3.99
IZOMBIE #2 (MR) 2.99
JONAH HEX NO WAY BACK HC 19.99
JSA ALL STARS #7 3.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #39 2.99
SERENITY FLOAT OUT ONE SHOT #1 FRANK STOCKTON CVR 3.5
THANOS IMPERATIVE #1 (OF 6) 3.99
Stand back, I’m prepared to do criticism!
I wasn’t going to pick this one up at all but got suckered into it by Alan Davis’ pretty pretty drawerings. I don’t have much to say about the writing, because it’s typical Bendis fare; but it’s good Bendis fare, as we get some good cathartic character interaction between Tony and Steve that really needed to happen before the whole Heroic Age could take off. While the book seems to be heralded as the reunited Avengers back together for the first time since the Disassembled disaster, they actually spend most of the book’s length separated, which works in establishing what this series will focus on, as it’s definitely tied heavier to Thor than either of the other big three.
I don’t think that this book is truly in any way essential, other than the character interactions between Steve and Tony which could have easily been done in the opening pages of the mainline Avengers book. This is mostly an exercise in capitalism. It’s a cash grab, honestly. But it’s a well written and superbly drawn cashgrab, which is more than I can say for some other recent attempts.
I will be honest and say that I don’t know too much about Hawkeye and Mockingbird’s backstory. The entirety of my knowlege is made up by what was presented in this introductory issue. I enjoyed what was presented but I don’t have the emotional attachment to these characters the way some people do. I will say that from what I saw on the page, this series could be an interesting one as the dynamic and the setup is different from just about every other Marvel b0ok out there right now. It’s a team book without being a team book. The group of specialists that Hawkeye and Mockingbird run with in this book, including none other than Dominic Fortune, give off a dynamic not unlike Birds of Prey, which doesn’t bode well for the inevitable Green Arrow/Black Canary comparisons that are bound to stick with the book despite being much better written than that book ever could have hoped as well as establishing itself as a lynchpin in the Avengers universe.
Hawkeye, despite the fact that I haven’t had much exposure to him, is central to the Avengers dynamic. He’s as attached to Steve Rogers at this point as the Falcon is, and they play on that well in this issue. I think that this series will serve as a nice companion piece to the new Avengers-centric Marvel Universe. I just hope it doesn’t get hamstrung by the fact that Hawkeye is, let’s be honest, a 2nd tier character and series built around those tend to have fairly limited runs. Like Hawkeye’s own series that lasted about twelve issues before getting shut down so he could die in Avengers Dissassembled.
I stopped following the monthly exploits of Jonah Hex about twelve issues back. I just had to find some room to trim on the pull list and I switched it over to trades. But when this came along I had to pick it up because I’m a sucker for original graphic novels. This one is very well done, and feels like the monthly series but with the dial turned up to eleven. Honestly, this feels like what the movie should be. It’s a taut western tale that adheres to and embraces alot of the western tropes and devices, while seeming decidedly modern in it’s raw narrative structure and effectively blunt depictions of violence in the old west.
I’ll say that if you wanted mass market appeal for the character in the weeks leading up to his theatrical debut, you could have gone with an artist that is more easily palatable to the everyday reader, but Tony DeZuniga’s sketchy style fits the character well. He’s done some amazing work on some of my favorite characters, and while I think his style is a good fit for the narrative, some complaints about his artwork are bound to arise.
What I liked most about this book was really how it appeals to any and all Jonah Hex readers. Newbies get a pseudo-origin story and can jump right into the action with no real trouble at all, while old fans will undoubtedly love it for how well it stays in line with what’s come before. It hits all the notes it needs to and then some.
And that’s it for this week. I’m going to focus my attention on these scrumtious extra crispy strips from KFC that I’ve picked up for lunch. They are just aces, and they won’t immediately put you into a death coma like a DoubleDown will. So, that’s just a check in the plus column.
You know what the best part of yesterday’s “Avengers Day” festivities were? Seriously? When my co-worker brought in cake. Volstagg understands where I’m coming from when I straight up tell you that even the crappiest day could be saved by cake. I mean, obviously when the zombies come and the fecal matter hits the rotating blades, cake isn’t going to make up for that, but I guarantee you that it won’t not help. That’s a promise.
AVENGERS #1 HA 3.99
BRIGHTEST DAY #2 2.99
DEADPOOL #23 HA 2.99
EXECUTOR HC (MR) 19.99
GALACTA DAUGHTER OF GALACTUS #1 3.99
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #26 HA 2.99
SCALPED TP VOL 06 THE GNAWING (MR) 14.99
SUPERMAN WAR OF THE SUPERMEN #3 (OF 4) 2.99
X-FACTOR #205 XSC 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #236 XSC 2.99
ZATANNA #1 2.99
I’m not gonna lie, dear readers…this week was slim pickin’s after last weeks full frontal assault by the big two. I will however give you what I can, as is my journalistic duty.
AVENGERS # 1
Let me get this out of the way, compared to New Avengers, this is about as Avenger-y an Avenger book can get. Sure, there’s a lot of Bendis’ trademark standing around and talking, but having recently re-read Busiek’s awesome run, there was a fair amount of expositional dialogue slinging in that era too, and I don’t know too many people who badmouth that run. Mostly out of fear that George Perez will come for them in the night and annihilate their souls with the power cosmic that he keeps stored in the lining of his Hawai’ian shirts.
Let’s see, Romita artwork? Check.
Clint Barton as Hawkeye? Check.
Steve Rogers giving an inspiring speech? Check
MOTHERF##KING KANG?!?!? CHECK!!!
Seriously, is there anything I think of as being more of an Avengers staple than Kang? No! Because he’s the most ludicrous Avengers villain of all time. He embodies the over-the-top grandiose nature of the book in ways that Dr. Doom or Ultron simply cannot. I know that’s a matter of opinion, but I would consider it to be fact, because that’s just how big my goddamned ego is. Kang has the sort of absurd over the top nature that could only be found within the pages of a comic book. I mean that with all the love and respect it entails. Comics as a medium have the ability to take the completely batshit insane and make it work the way that if you tried it on television or on film, you would be laughed at like a gimpy orangutan in a sailor outfit. Oh, the laughs you would garner if you tried to throw a time traveling despot into the workings of even the most out-there television show you could find. If Kang showed up in his purple helmet on the island on LOST, people would groan and punch themselves in the groin. Well, I would make a high pitched shrieking sound and bounce around the room like a walaby on angeldust, but that’s because I like things that nobody else likes.
The fact of the matter is that Bendis has gone back and made an Avengers book for the people who spent the last six years complaining that his books didn’t feel like they were Avengers books. Are those people really going to be able to make those claims when Kang shows up sporting a doomsday device that was supposedly built by a future version of Tony Stark and tells them that the future of the world depends on their new team triumphing over seemingly insurmountable odds? No, those people will have to eat their words like a slice of spongey Avengers Day cake. How does it taste, people? The answer should be chocolate.
Wanna guess what I love more in comics than Kang? Give up?
Yeah, I went there. You think I stuck around through all of Green Arrow/Black Canary because I enjoyed the story. Nope. It’s because I am bound by honor to purchase any and all comics featuring a character whose costume involves fishnets. My brain is hard wired that way. Is that shallow? Maybe. How many people bought Power Girl just because of the boobage? I bought it because I love the character. The boobs are only a fraction of that element, so I suppose that makes me better than everyone else. That’s me, champion of ethics.
Anyway, this issue begins with Zatanna in full bondage mode, chained to a gigantic St. Andrew’s cross while the Joker is set to ram a gigantic drill through her torso. Fan service? You bet your ass. It’s all a swerve, of course. It’s a Zatanna book, nothing is going to be exactly what it seems like. But do you think anybody who just flipped open the book to see a hot brunette in fishnets and sexy boots bound and gagged in pure fetish fuel fashion is gonna put the book back on the rack after that? No. They’ll buy it. They have to. Unless they’re a female who can’t appreciate how friggin’ hot that opening page is. But take a closer look femi-nazis, that panel is all about the empowerment of the female form, that when we view a woman at her most helpless she’s truly always in control. Satisfied? I hope so, because I don’t really wantto overanalyze the book. It all really boils down to the fishnets. Let’s be honest.