I remember for a while DC seemed hellbent on making Weekly Comics a thing. 52 was probably their best shot at the concept. Countdown was the sort of mess you wish you could forget and I have almost entirely forgotten Trinity. DC wants to give the thing another go with Scott Snyder this time helming the project alongside a team of writers that include James Tynion IV, John Layman, Ray Fawkes, and, most interesting to me at least, Tim Seeley. Art duties will be handled by Josh Fabok, who I speculated would find a major project when the switcharoo with creative teams on Detective was teased a while back. Other artists will likely join him on the project soon. (source)
All of this is of course in connection to Batman’s 75th Anniversary. You can expect big things for Batman soon. In conjunction with this announcement, DC stated that the upcoming Detective Comics # 27 will be a 96 page epic featuring work from some pretty heavy hitters including Frank Miller, Paul Dini, Brad Meltzer, and Neal Adams with art provided by Greg Capullo, Jim Lee, Chris Burnham, Mike Allred and others.
I’m not even gonna lie, folks. Yesterday I was on the verge of lashing out at anybody who looked at me the wrong way. Some people said some things that I felt were highly disrespectful, and then they followed up on that by asking me to go out of my way to do something that I am not actually able to do without significant time spent doing so. Why would I do this when I don’t get treated with any measure of respect in the course of my regular comings and goings? All I can say is that luckily the day was salvaged by a date with a beautiful girl and a stack of mostly excellent comics.
Yesterday was really the kind of day that comics were invented for. I was in a foul mood, the rain outside was just nasty, nothing was on TV; it was just a day meant to be ended laying on the couch reading about super powered people in bright costumes punching bad guys in the face. Honestly, yesterday would have been almost a total down note if it weren’t for my weekly pull.
ACTION COMICS #890 3.99
ASTONISHING X-MEN #34 2.99
BATMAN BEYOND #1 (OF 6) 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #607 HA 3.99
DEADPOOL TEAM-UP #892 2.99
DEATH OF DRACULA ONE-SHOT 3.99
FLASH #3 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #13 2.99
HERALDS #5 (OF 5) 2.99
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN ANNUAL #1 4.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #46 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 3.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #40 2.99
SECRET AVENGERS #2 HA 3.99
THOR #611 HA 3.99
WONDER WOMAN #600 (NOTE PRICE) 4.99
And now that my personal bitching is out of the way, let’s do this shit.
Lex Luthor takes over the protagonist duties on Action Comics this week, with former Captain Britain and Doctor Who writer Paul Cornell taking the reigns and bringing us a story that spills directly out of Blackest Night, which most of my readers will recall me as christening a “steaming pile of Geoff John’s diaretic feces” or something similar. And while my feelings on that particularly shoddy mini-series haven’t changed, the fallout here with Luthor, whose power hungry ego was out of control before he got ahold of an orange ring, is actually intriguing and well plotted. I attribute this mostly to the fact that Luthor is one of the better multi-faceted villains DC has at their disposal. I mean, the Joker has a lot of different degrees of crazy he can go in, but he’s still going to be the Joker. With Lex we can get mad scientist Lex or evil industrialist Lex or actually-not-evil Lex, his lack of true definition isn’t a fault of the writers it’s a byproduct of his psyche as a character. Luthor truly does not know what he wants to be. Really, he just doesn’t want to be Superman, despite what Geoff Johns would have you believe.
This particular issue knocks it out of the park as far as I’m concerned. The story is obvious setup, where we learn of Luthor’s plan to quest for the rings (which sounds a little more Tolkien-esque than I thought when I typed that out). But while it’s definitely an issue meant to catch up readers who may be jumping on board as well as giving us a clear direction for where the title is headed, we also get Cornell’s Luthor clearly defined in the span of one issue. We know which Luthor we’re going to be getting. Cornell writes a very compelling Luthor, with his actions making complete sense in the context of who we’re dealing with. The way he treats Lois in this issue (probably my favorite aspect of the series thus far) is probably as good a gauge of character as we’ll ever see.
Oh, and the surprise reveal of the villain at the end made me squee, because he’s a personal favorite and I’ve been waiting for him to pop back up for a while now. But that’s just personal bias.
I only vaguely remember Batman Beyond as a show. I mean, I watched it because I was young and there wasn’t much else on but I didn’t latch onto it the way that I did with Batman The Animated Series. Chris Sims over at ComicsAlliance said that he enjoyed the show because it was basically Batman meshed with Spider-Man but set in the future. I agree wholeheartedly with that assessment. The character is more Spidey than Bats most of the time, and I think that’s an interesting dynamic but it was never something that hooked me. I mean, if I want to watch Spider-Man I’ll go watch Spider-Man. Batman has a specific style and tone that I identify with and Batman Beyond didn’t really hit that note for me.
That having been said, I felt compelled to pick up the first issue of the mini-series because I’ll be damned if I’m not going to at least give it a fair shake to make me a convert. I won’t say that it has, but I think that is because a lot of what did make the show work in terms of style was lost when translated with it’s adaptation to a different medium. I think that regular fans will enjoy it more than I did because they’ll just be happy to see Terry McGinnis back in some form.
I will say that Beechen gets kudos for surprising me with the villain, if they do in fact go where they suggest at the end of the issue. He’s not my favorite villain by any means, in fact I hate the living hell out of the story that introduced him while a lot of people hold it up as some paragon of Batman lore, but given that this is an alternate reality maybe they can fix him in some small degree, although any progress made won’t resonate in the regular titles and so I’ll likely end up dissapointed either way. As you can tell, I am still harboring some residual pessimissm left over from yesterday.
Spoiler Alert – Dracula dies in this issue. Yeah, I know some people will actually complain that I mention that. Despite having the central premise of the book right there in the title. Though Marvel has thrown swerveballs at us in regards to titles and events and covers that bely my point, but this is my blog so deal with it.
Anyhow, all I have to say about this issue is that it is a damn fine little vampire story that follows the logic and style I prefer in my vampire fiction. I was hoping for a Blade cameo, but no such luck, this one is all about the fanged dudes. The clear definition that Gischler gives to the vampire sects is refreshing rather than having a catch-all group of undead with no real regard to locale or backstory. I particularly liked the hot dominatrix female vampire sect. (The fact that I almost typed that as “Sext” seals the deal. Hot vampires for the win. Good job Gisch!)
I have to appreciate Marvel’s recent revival of their vampire community. The upcoming trade reprints of Tomb of Dracula have me positively giddy as I can finally replace my Essentials. Cornell’s Vampire State arc of Captain Britain was phenomenal and every time I see a copy at the shop I get really angry that the book got cancelled because it truly was a gem. But luckily Marvel has good, talented writers like Gischler handling their vampires because they seem to understand what makes them work. Vampires are supposed to be creatures of horror. There is a lamentation in the book that humans don’t fear vampires the way they should, despite being creatures of fear by nature. And that’s the crux of this. There is a regal fearsomeness to the vampires presented in this issue. I want to thank Vic Gischler for righting the wrongs brought on by vampires like this:
Yeah, seriously. Read Death of Dracula. It’s not lame.
First, let me state how awesome it is that Matt Fraction was able to throw in a nod to Immortal Iron Fist in this annual. I think that was wicked awesome, especially for those of us who loved that book unconditionally. I will say that for the five bucks I paid to pick up this book, I got about as much content as your average trade paperback. Fraction knows how to give his readers bang for their buck, and here we got an interesting look at the life story of the Mandarin through the eyes of the director he shanghai’d to film his biopic. It’s filled with fabrications and lies mixed with fact. Kind of like a White House press conference (BA-ZING!).
It’s a hefty book, with a sprawling story that weaves itself around Iron Man without ever being about him. Which is both a good and a bad thing I suppose. I did like how Fraction essentially updated Tony’s origin to mirror the one in the film, with the terror sect from the first movie being utilized and the escape sequence recreated almost identically. We knew it was going to happen eventually, I’m just glad it was done in a way that was organic and didn’t feel forced. Like some stupid mini-series launched simply to cash in on the movie. I get tired of that. Quickly.
This annual has a lot going for it the way that Action Comics did. We get a character who is well known but not defined in any real manner. Fraction plays with that a bit to create a character who is defined by the smokescreen created by his own illusionary presence. The Mandarin is a villain who needed an issue like this to give us a reason to care about his existence. I can’t wait to see what Fraction does with the character in the pages of the book proper.
Christ on a cracker, Robinson. You’re killing me here.
JLA has turned into a solid gold turd. I mean, it started off pretty bad with Meltzer, and McDuffie’s run was a mediocre bore, but now it’s just a walking joke. Bagley’s pencils are great and all but they cannot salvage this dreck. It’s poorly written, poorly plotted, and doesn’t feel like a JLA book at all to me. There’s none of the gravitas of Morrison or Waid’s run, and none of the fun that was so prevalant in the cartoon. JLA is supposed to be big and bombastic, it’s supposed to be all that’s great about the DC characters in one book but instead I find myself reading this issue and wondering how anyone could enjoy it. It’s full of faux importance but everything rings hollow. If it weren’t crossing over with JSA, which I’m loving, I never would have put money down on this title. It’s sad to see how far Robinson has fallen since Starman, it really is.
All anyone is talking about is that damned costume redesign. Which basically confirms my suspicions that Wonder Woman is more an image than a catalyst for stories. She’s a fetishized figure that hearkens to teenage masturbatory fantasies whose value as a character is largely ignored. I personally liked every little story in the book, with my favorite of course being the one by Amanda Conner, who may be the most talented working artist around. I mean, come on. You have Power Girl and Wonder Woman teaming up to punch a giant walking egg. Don’t tell me that’s not great!
But all the coverage of this milestone issue has been about the damned costume. It only appears for one of the five stories in the issue and that seems to be the only thing that every article I’ve read since the beginning of this week has focused on. Not the fact that Gail Simone teamed up with George Perez to tell a Wonder Woman story that builds on years of Diana’s legacy for a truly genuine story. One that demonstrates how just about every other female character in the DCU is beholden to Wonder Woman in some way, shape or form. Whether in the context of their existence in the mainstream DCU or in a meta-textual manner that references the way Diana trailblazed female heroes, that story spoke volumes. And it made the message while she was wearing the classic costume. If there is anything wrong with that costume it’s simply that George Perez can’t draw every issue of Wonder Woman as well as her every appearance in every DC book. Between Gail and George’s enormous talent, their worst work would be better than the best work of some other talented creators. I stand by that firmly.
Of the Trinity’s anniversary issues, this one was probably the strongest. There was a respect to the character that was lacking in Superman’s, like the point of Superman 700 was to expose the flaws of Superman and somehow right them. Which felt a little like arrogance on the part of Stracynski. With Wonder Woman, he’s also trying to revise her and bring her some place new. But he didn’t do it at the expense of saying “your personality is wrong, this shall be fixed.”
Still not sold on him as the ongoing writer, but this issue was solid. I just wish people could see the reason why.
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.
Zatanna # 1
Paul Dini/Stephane Roux
I learned something this week. Comic books are not an easy habit to downgrade. While last week I remarked that due to my financial situation, comic books would have to be scaled back for a little while alongside other things like blu-ray movies and steak dinners in order to help me build up a little extra cash in the bank, this week I found out that I can’t seem to stop myself from throwing stuff on the pile. Let me just say that while I still am going to try to restrain myself, hard as it may be because there is so much good stuff out there that I really want to read, I’m not going to hamstring myself either. If you can’t enjoy your hobbies the way you want, they sorta cease to be hobbies in my opinion.
ACTION COMICS #889 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #629 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #605 3.99
DEADPOOL #22 2.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #864 3.99
FALL OF HULKS RED HULK #4 (OF 4) 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #578 2.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #11 2.99
HACK SLASH SERIES #32 A CVR SEELEY (MR) 3.5
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #25 HA 3.99
JLA DELUXE EDITION HC VOL 03 29.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #38 2.99
LAST DAYS OF AMERICAN CRIME #2 (OF 3) A CVR MALEEV (MR) 4.99
MIGHTY AVENGERS #36 SIEGE 2.99
NEW AVENGERS #64 SIEGE 3.99
PREVIEWS #260 MAY 2010 (NET) 2.7
PUNISHER #16 2.99
RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE GN (MR) 6.99
SHUDDERTOWN #2 (MR) 3.5
SUPERMAN #699 2.99
SUPERMAN LAST STAND OF NEW KRYPTON #3 (OF 3) 3.99
THOR #609 SIEGE 2.99
TRANSFORMERS ONGOING #6 3.99
ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS 2 #1 3.99
X-FORCE #26 XSC 2.99
And now, your weekly biased opinions.
I love a good one-off Deadpool story in which all kinds of ludicrous wackiness ensues. When you try to go epic with this particular character you can either get some amazing results like the Cable/cult stuff in Cable & Deadpool or you can get something like Deadpool Corps which doesn’t have quite the same *oomph*. This story has Deadpool being Deadpool somewhere in Georgia and wreaking vengea-justice against some corrupt backwoods hillbilly cops. It’s not high art in any way shape or form, but it feels like Deadpool, moreso than any universe-hopping counterpart he may have in another book.
In all fairness, this is the only Deadpool book on my list now. I cut off DPC and Team-Up because I wasn’t caring for them at all. They felt empty and bloated at the same time and didn’t give me anything that I was looking for in the character. Merc With A Mouth is still mostly excellent but it ends in three issues, so it might as well be gone already. I’m going to hold off on the upcoming Wade Wilson’s War mini-series, despite my immense love for Duane Sweircantspellhislastnameski because I’m pretty sure they’re gonna make an oversized hardcover for it that will look nice next to my Suicide Kings hardcover. What can I say? I’m a sucker for the aesthetic of a bookshelf brimming with Marvel hardcovers.
My point is that the main Deadpool book is actually better than it gets credit for, and that I find it interesting that writers at Marvel, like the fanbase, have such wide and varying ideas of what a Deadpool book should be like, given that a few short years ago, Deadpool was one of the simplest characters to write. But exposure has forced multiple interpretations and I’m glad that I found the one that works for me. Maybe Deadpool Corps is the one that works for you. I can’t say. I barely made it through the first issue without vomiting in revulsion.
This issue featured maybe one of the most horrible and obvious plays on words that I’ve ever read in a comic book. I mean, it was too easy and it was telegraphed a mile away and I can’t believe that Paul Dini wrote it. The rest of the comic was pretty damned good. But I keep going back to that one cringe-worthy panel, which I would totally scan if my machine weren’t on the fritz. (Yeah, that’s why the panel of the week segment got cut, because I spend too much money on comics to afford a new scanner. I have no shame.)
The majority of this issue centers around Selina and Harley searching for a lost dog while Poison Ivy makes a first impression at her new job. I will say I was surprised by how that little section of this issue turned out. It looks like they’re not going with the secret identity idea for Poison Ivy as a long-term idea, which I was interested in seeing play out over the course of a few issues.
I think this is a good book. I really do. But this issue is a definate drop in quality from the last arc with Riddler. But then again, that could be on account of my epic Riddler-positive bias. I truly do love the Riddler, I think he’s underappreciated and misunderstood. Thankfully, Dini gets the Riddler better than just about anybody and I think he’s got plans for him down the road.
The heroic age is here. Kind of odd that Siege still technically hasn’t ended and we’re already moving on to the aftermath. Better than holding up all the books while we wait but still a bit odd. This issue is just about everything you could want in an Iron Man comic. Matt Fraction might be God, I’ll have to ask his wife if their new baby was immaculately conceived in order to prove my hypothosis. (Congrats to the both of them on that, by the way)
One thing I think that is immediately noticeable about this book is the timing. A week before the new film drops and we get a comic featuring the return of Hammer Industries, the company founded by Justin Hammer, a prominently featured character in the new movie. Coincidence? I doubt it. Just as when this book launched in the wake of the first film with a story featuring Ezekiel Stane, Fraction has organically found a way to grab the interest of any new readers who might jump on board following the release of the new movie.
The tone of the book has reverted to the same sort that it had around it’s launch. Whereas the last arc was very hyper-real with a good chunk taking place in Tony’s mind, we’re now back to the corporate warfare and industrial terrorism actioner vibe that started in The Five Nightmares. It’s a tone that really works for Iron Man, and even with all the changes Stark is going through, he seems to fit into the puzzle with ease. This truly is some of the best Iron Man writing in ages.
Here’s one of the books that proves my point about the inevitability of my comic collecting nature. I didn’t know this book was coming out this week. I completely overlooked it. But when presented with it, I took one look at the cover, saw Palmiotti and Gray’s name on the credits and tossed it on the pile. If there ever were a dream-team of comic writers, those two are it. Right up there with Brubaker/Rucka as far as I’m concerned. I mean, have you read Jonah Hex? Power Girl? Those guys are amazing.
This book utilizes what they know about the comic book business and builds an effective meta-textual story that comments on the world of comics from the inside and out. From publishing to the fans that read the product, to the media that capitilizes on its burdgeoning popularity. At the same time they manage to make a statement about the current state of the horror genre, both in the world of film and in the graphic literature medium. It’s a mixed message that they put out, I’ll admit, but then again that mirrors the content that they’re deconstructing here. Honestly, the book feels very cinematic. It has a very clear first, second, and third act and is illustrated in such a way that I felt like I was reading an adaptation of a mini-series on HBO.
I’m not going to say that this is their best work, but it is an interesting read. My only real complaints stem from the fact that due to the nature of the book, which seems to be a deconstruction of the modern horror story, the plot turns seem telegraphed and predictible. A problem that seems to plague a great deal of horror movies/novels/comics nowadays. Aside from maybe The Walking Dead, I can’t recall being shocked by a horror title in a long time. Crossed came close, but Garth Ennis can’t stop himself from being Garth Ennis, so a good deal of that book felt predictable as well, sad to say.
However, in the case of Random Acts of Violence, I can say that for the price tag, you get your money’s worth and then some. It’s a very meaty book, it feels full and complete without the need for decompression or rushed…anything. It’s simply a well put together book with a few slight snags applied due to the nature of the beast.
Optimus Prime gets dropped out of a helicopter onto Swindle. Of course I fucking liked it.
See you next week….maybe. I’m taking a trip to Louisiana that weekend and I might space out between the middle of next week and the following Monday.