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.
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.
So I’ve been battling a cold that’s primary affliction to my system has been a severe sense of apathy. I don’t think I’ve ever moved slower on a Wednesday than I did at work yesterday, but when the fever broke in the night I realized that I had a blog to update, and thus I started work on this week’s reviews, which will begin momentarily.
THE PULL LIST: 2-17-2010
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #621 GNTLT 2.99
BATMAN #696 2.99
BATMAN STREETS OF GOTHAM #9 3.99
BLACK WIDOW AND MARVEL GIRLS #4 (OF 4) 2.99
BLACK WIDOW DEADLY ORIGIN #4 (OF 4) 3.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #603 3.99
CHASE VARIANT ONE SHOT IS ALL I NEED (ONE SHOT) 3.99
DAREDEVIL #505 2.99
DARK AVENGERS #14 SIEGE 3.99
DEADPOOL #19 2.99
DEADPOOL MERC WITH A MOUTH #8 2.99
DOOMWAR #1 (OF 6) 3.99
GREEN LANTERN #51 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #45 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
HULK #20 FOH 3.99
IGNITION CITY TP 19.99
INCORRUPTIBLE #3 3.99
INCREDIBLE HULK #607 FOH 3.99
JOE THE BARBARIAN #2 2.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #42 3.99
POWER GIRL #9 2.99
PSYLOCKE #4 (OF 4) 3.99
PUNISHER #14 2.99
SPIDER-WOMAN #6 2.99
STARMAN OMNIBUS VOL. 4 49.99
SUPERGIRL #50 (NOTE PRICE) 4.99
THOR BY DAN JURGENS & JOHN ROMITA JR TP VOL 02 24.99
UNCANNY X-MEN #521 2.99
And so, I begin:
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 621
I feel like I’ve heaped sufficient praise on this book over the course of it’s “Gauntlet” storyline. This issue is worth picking up for Michael Lark’s art alone. That man could draw Daredevil making a sandwich for 32 pages and I’d buy two copies. (Grilled cheese variant?)
This issue catered to me in numerous ways. It had Black Cat, who I effing love. It had Mr. Negative, who I honestly believe is one of the better additions to Spidey’s rogues gallery that we’ve seen in the last few years. Honestly, it was just a good Spider-Man comic. And while the previous few issues have felt decisively like old-school Spidey, this one feels frighteningly modern, and I think alot of that comes from Michael Lark’s artwork. While not overly realistic, the tones are muddied and contrasting as opposed to the clean cut-and-dry work of the last few issues. I like both styles, and the art definately worked for this story, but the change is a litle jarring when held up to what had come before. The saving grace comes in the form of the writing, which doesn’t shift tone nearly as radically and keeps the story on course.
Again, I really only have good things to say about this series at this point, and if you’re not picking it up I think you’re probably just still bitter over the One More Day angle. We get it, you feel slighted, but at this point you’re just denying yourself some quality entertainment with a character you claimed to love.
Rich Johnston is basically what would happen if I went around shouting a bunch of stuff I heard and considered it hard journalism. I won’t deny that the man gets his shit right every so often, as the man does have some sweet hookups and his site is a go-to for many people. I consider him and people like him to be the reason that Wizard has lost it’s relevance to the comic community and that in itself sort of makes him relevant.
Does any of that qualify him to write a comic book?
I don’t know. If it does, I’m hoping someone at Image calls me because I’ve got a great pitch about a Texas ranger who fights ronin-Samurai in a post-apocalyptic California with the help of a cat named Asshole. (Seriously, call me.)
I don’t know if he’s ever written anything outside of an editorial before this book, but if he’s a newbie he didn’t do too bad for his opening shot. If nothing else, the book has a pretty cool framing device, with unseen hands dealing magic-style dueling cards that shape the flow of the narrative. Such a framing device would be especially interesting in an ongoing series, where it could be explained in detail, but as it is not an ongoing and simply a one-and-done sort of deal, part of me wonders what their purpose was. Though that’s just me contemplating what could be or should have been and not what is.
As far as what the book is, I would say that Chase Variant is decent but it feels like an anachronism. A sort of throwback to the 90’s Image that I never really got into. There’s no character development or plot that runs beyond a few lines of dialogue, but there is some well-developed imagery and the potential for impressive worldbuilding. Environment and aesthetic over true content, honestly.
That doesn’t mean that it’s rubbish, because at least the book feels like it moves forward given it’s limited frame of existence. It’s not like it treads water trying to stay afloat. The book may not be the best thing ever written, but none of the effort was phoned in and it feels genuine, which is more than can be said for some books.
I’ve gotta nominate this one for turnaround book of the month, because the last issue to hit stands was downright atrocious. I was literally floored by how asinine that book was. This issue on the other hand seems to work well to regain focus and present a singular path for the book that I hope isn’t lost next month for some reason nobody can explain to me.
Instead of disjointed mini-sodes with a hodge-podge of different artists breaking up the flow, we get Deadpool and co. sucked into the Marvel Zombies universe where Deadpool goes all Tom Savini on a bunch of undead superheroes. The art is clean, crisp, and fits the tone preented by the writing and the jokes don’t completely suck the life out of the book.
Thank god, I was afraid I was going to have to drop this book. And how damned ironic would it be if after clinging to Cable and Deadpool because I didn’t want to see DP’s only book get cancelled would it be for me to be able to drop a Deadpool book and not be concerned because he has two other books I could read? I’d love to go back to the 90’s and drop that bombshell on someone. The look on their face would be priceless.
SUPERGIRL # 50
I’m glad that we have a Supergirl book that isn’t a horrible trainwreck. The current team has been doing a bang up job with the character, and though I’m not a big fan of the huge line-wide crossovers the Superman family seems to be enduring until the end of time, this book has been doing the best with what it’s been given from the get-go. The character development they’ve been working with Kara and Lana is refreshing, as both of them have drastically needed to be refocused for quite some time.
This issue feels like a good old fashioned Superman story to me. I mean, replace Supergirl with Clark and you would swear that this story belonged in one of those Black and White SHOWCASE books. Giant wasps? Lazer beams! GANGBUSTER?!?!?!
The backup story is short and essentially unnecessary, but the tone was on the money and I’m sure putting Helen Slater’s name on the book bumped sales by a fair margin, though what size that margin is could be anybody’s guess. Either way, the total package was worth the extra dollar on the price tag.
If all they had printed in this book was that final page, I still would have loved it. I won’t spoil it, but they made me a very happy nerd.
Very very happy nerd.
And I’m done for this week. Check back next time, when maybe I’ll review a comic that totally sucks. It’s kind of odd when I don’t read anything that makes me wanna hurl.
Dear loving God, I think I may have gone overboard on the books this week. I bought about double my usual pull and mostly because there were issues I figured would be good picks for review on this here blog.You should all feel so special.
The Pull List:
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #619 GNTLT 2.99
AVENGERS INITIATIVE #32 SIEGE 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #7 2.99
BLACKEST NIGHT JSA #2 (OF 3) 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA REBORN #6 (OF 6) 3.99
CHEW #8 (MR) 2.99
DAREDEVIL #504 2.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #861 3.99
FALL OF HULKS RED HULK #1 (OF 4) FOH 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #575 2.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #8 2.99
GREEN LANTERN #50 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 3.99
HOUSE OF MYSTERY TP VOL 03 THE SPACE BETWEEN 14.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #41 3.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #35 2.99
KICK ASS #8 (MR) 2.99
MS MARVEL #49 2.99
NEW AVENGERS #61 SIEGE 3.99
PUNISHER #13 2.99
ROBOCOP #1 (MR) 3.5
SUPERGIRL #49 2.99
SUPERMAN #696 2.99
SUPERMAN SECRET ORIGIN #4 (OF 6) 3.99
THOR #606 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS ENEMY #1 (OF 4) 3.99
WIZARD MAGAZINE #222 MARVEL SIEGE CVR (C: 0-1-2) 5.99
WONDER WOMAN #40 2.99
X-FACTOR #201 2.99
X-FORCE #23 XN 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #232 XN 2.99
And here come the reviews:
AVENGERS INITIATIVE # 32
Taskmaster is an underated character. He’s really been getting his due in this book and this issue is no different. Initiative shows the POV of the ground level people going into the Siege on Asgard, particularly Taskmaster and Diamondback. We really get to see a clear defintion of why it is Taskmaster does what he does, something that I found refreshing in that it really fleshed his character out further than we’ve seen previously and hopefully it will generate some more interest in the character so that he sticks around after Initiative goes the way of the dodo in April.
BATMAN & ROBIN # 7
Long delayed and anticipated in ways I cannot possibly describe, the seventh issue of Grant Morrison’s flagship title for the Batman reborn storyline picks back up with a bang, not losing any of the kinetic energy that has made the book such a great read from it’s inception. The story begins in London with Batman racing against time through the streets trying to stop a runaway train brimming with explosives. The pacing of Batman’s movements through the city showcase all that artist Cameron Stewart is capable of and at the same time reminds us that Dick Grayson as Batman retains so much of the acrobatic skill that made him so formidible as Nightwing.
The book then escalates, delving into conspiracies regarding an old mine that may or may not have certain regenerative qualities. Sure enough, Batman and Robin show up and find a viable Lazarus Pit. With the themes already touched upon in the last few issues regarding Bruce’s death, one can easily see where this leads; but everything Grant Morrison does is always slightly off kilter, and I would wager that the final page of this issue is going to lead to something that defies expectation.
It should be noted that the issue has a really big lettering error, one which is devestatingly confusing. I know at least one person who assumed this was some sort of weird Morrisonian style choice, but it’s nothing so sinister. Just swap the speech bubbles and it makes perfect sense, and all will be well.E
DETECTIVE COMICS # 861
Following J.H. Williams on the art duty for Detective is pretty much like expecting a garage band to play the encore for Led Zeppelin. Artist JOCK does a great job on the title, bringing his signature look to the book an creating his own template for the action. Rucka does well balancing the dual stories, showcasing Batman and Batwoman’s investigation of the same case.
While I certainly miss the unparalleled art by Williams, this arc looks to be Rucka at the top of his game, and if that’s the case, it really doesn’t matter who is pulling the art chores.
RED HULK # 1
A book where the Red Hulk and Abomination team up to learn how M.O.D.O.K. repeatedly clones himself and harvests his own organs for future use. I’m a sucker for anything remotely involving M.O.D.O.K., so the fact that this book technically doesn’t need to exist in any way shape or form can be overlooked.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA # 41
I haven’t been reading Robinson’s JLA. I read the first issue of Cry for Justice and decided that no good could come from reading anything Justice League related from that particular author. Picking up this issue, I can honestly say that I was probably right. The narrative seems jumbled and the characterization stilted. I know from his run on STARMAN that Robinson can handle a diverse cast. The only explaination I can think of for his inability to craft a coherant JLA is that in STARMAN, he built his world from the ground up. Robinson seems to have issues playing in other people’s sandbox with JLA and it is visible on every page.
Which is disappointing because Mark Bagley is turning out some really nice work here, drawing a wide spectrum of characters with all his usual skill. The fact that one of the most competent artists on the DC roster is stuck drawing such a lackluster book is perhaps the biggest shame of all.
ROBOCOP # 1
I’m not sure where this fits into the movie continuity. It seems like it either takes place before the third film or ignores it entirely. I don’t so much care about the continuity, that stuff doesn’t really matter with a book like this. What bothers me most about this book is just how damned sloppy it is. It reads like tiresome fan-fiction, which is forgiveable considering that that essentially what it needs to be. What really drags the book down is the ham-fisted way they try to shoehorn blatant social commentary about our current financial dilemma into the narrative. And while the original film did a good job mixing action and subtext, this book doesn’t seem to know how to do it without coming off as forced and trite.
ULTIMATE COMICS ENEMY # 1
I have no f**king idea what happened in this issue. Ben Grimm hit on the Invisible Woman and then started shedding like a mangy dog, a building exploded with a purple blob thing, and Nick Fury has lunch. I’m pretty much willing to accept a lot but paying $3.99 for this makes me slightly angry.
WONDER WOMAN # 40
Gail Simone knows how to write Wonder Woman. This issue features creepy Childen of the Corn kids spreading hate-speech, racism, and fear and eventually Power Girl shows up. I love Power Girl, so this book is immediately awesome, but the character moments in the book are so strong that it didn’t even need her to win me over. Gail has organically been building this series in such a manner that in a few years it will likely be held up alongside Perez as the pinnacle in what can be achieved with the character.
And that’s it for this week. You’ll notice I actually reviewed more than one DC book this week. Aren’t I a generous soul?