It’s been a hectic week at the store, getting ready for our big ol’ 35th Anniversary celebration. The boss put a lot of money into getting the building repainted and the store looks almost brand new. We’ve got a local comics publisher coming in on Saturday to do a meet and greet. I’ve got copies of my first book on hand to sign for anyone masochistic enough to want one.
But the books still came in as usual, and I have opinions, as usual.
Avengers # 5:
Okay, I’m getting the feeling that this book just isn’t for me. The storyline seems typically Avenger-y and all, but the artwork just doesn’t do it for me, and I feel like my sensibilities are better suited with Bendis’ New Avengers or over at Avengers Academy. I feel like Bendis is trying to write in a manner consistent with the old Avengers tone, but he just isn’t pulling it off. I think this title would be better under the direction of someone like Dan Slott or Mark Waid. I’m basing that entirely off of what I’ve seen on their other work, so maybe I’m just pining, but I’m not sure.
Fantastic Four # 583:
Jon Hickman has been doing some really good FF work. He’s easily the best fit for the title since Waid and Ringo left a few years ago. His proto-philosophical scientific jargon and interwoven narrative patterns fit the book like a Kirby-drawn glove. His work thus far has been building to this issue and I can say with ease that this could be the defining FF run of the decade. Also, Doom. It’s easy to get Doom wrong and Hickman seems to be giving us a Doom that we’ve been clamoring for. Can’t wait to see how this all pans out.
Justice League – Generation Lost # 10
I feel like this series is way too decompressed. Every time I see the solicits and I fail to see “final issue” I wonder how long they can drag it out. It seems until they cross paths with every last entity in the DCU. Seriously. It’s not a horrible book. I like the ideas behind the story, I just don’t care for the obvious filler. It’s like Dragonball Z’s Namek saga. It just goes on and on and on, obviously leading to something, but by the time the climax comes, we’ll all be numb and immune to it’s effectiveness.
Power Girl # 16:
At least this time, we don’t get shoehorned into Generation Lost at random. We see that there is an endgame in place for the events that happen to Power Girl’s civilian life and the interpersonal drama feels organic and appropriate. Winnick seems to handle the characters in a way where everything seems like a seamless transition from where they were previously. There hasn’t been a dynamic tone shift in character portrayal the way I expected. He’s writing a very consistent book, fumbled only by the occasional intrusion by the Generation Lost plots.
Shadowland Moon Knight # 2:
I’m getting fatigued by the whole Shadowland thing, admittedly, but this has been a good mini-series and I’m really digging it. Chicken-Khonshu aside. I still can’t get over how much that guy looks like a giant chicken. The reveal at the end of the issue was pretty telegraphed, but I still enjoyed the issue. I really do want to see how they resolve all this in the next issue.
Thor # 615
The long awaited arrival of Matt Fraction on Thor begins with his typical flair for dialogue setting up what looks to be an important status-quo changing event for Asgard. The whole time Asgard has been on Earth nobody bothered to ask the question of what happened to the space that Asgard once occupied. Fraction seems to want to answer that question with a battle between mystical creatures that will offer some good therapeutic violence for Thor and his brethren following the Siege of Asgard.
Fraction seems to have a handle on Thor’s psyche the way he did with Tony Stark’s and he definitely has a way of setting the stage for things to come. The first issue does take some time to get rolling, but Fraction has a handle on how to work a slow burn when it comes to working a narrative and whatever he has planned will most definitely be interesting, if he holds true to his usual calibre of writing.
Uncanny X-Men # 528
It looks like we’re going to be seeing a lot of intrigue when it comes to Emma and Namor. I didn’t think Namor was going to be sticking around here due to his own series starting up, but it looks like he’s going to be a major part of the things to come.
Emma is dealing with her issues with Sebastian Shaw, who I suspect will stick around for a while to raise his profile to coincide with the release of the new X-Men First Class film. Kitty Pryde finally gets some real face time besides being shown in her little bubble, which is fine by me because I love Kitty almost as much as I love Dazzler, WHO IS ALSO IN THIS ISSUE.
So, yeah, good book.
And that’s it for this week. Need to prepare for the sale at work. Where’s my name badge?
After another brief hiatus the reviews have returned, and I’m sure you were all so worried that I’d never get back to the weekly review schedule. Well, here I am. I can’t say much for this week’s crop of books because it was a light week all around. Picking what to review was actually the hardest part of this little endeavor because everything I picked up is in the middle of an arc and if you haven’t made up your mind on a book by part four I doubt my little review is gonna sway you either way. If you do get to part four then read my review and go “well I’m not picking that up!” maybe I need to consider a career as a hostage negotiator.
ACTION COMICS #892 3.99
ASTONISHING X-MEN #35 2.99
AVENGERS #4 3.99
BATMAN #702 2.99
BLACK WIDOW #5 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #609 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #582 2.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #15 2.99
GREEN ARROW #3 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
SHADOWLAND MOON KNIGHT #1 (OF 3) SL 3.99
SUPERMAN SECRET ORIGIN #6 (OF 6) 3.99
THOR #613 3.99
WONDER WOMAN #602 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #239 2.99
Now let’s get this over with.
I praised the first issue of Avengers as a return to the classic feel of the title with a little bit of Bendis’ trademark style. Four issues in, I still get the classic vibe but I don’t so much think that Bendis’ Bendis-ey tendencies (that’s an odd rhyme) are all that suited for this sort of book. Contrast this with New Avengers where he’s really feeling his groove and hasn’t lost a beat since the last volume and you can see where he feels more comfortable. Bendis likes to do epic on a small scale. Epic as it pertains to the individual or a group of individuals. In New Avengers, it’s really Bendis’ statement on how Cage has grown as a leader and Doctor Strange’s role in the world of magic. You can boil the importance of the arc down to two characters, in essence. With Avengers it’s a little harder to do that. And while it’s still a good book and an interesting read, I’m not sure if it has Bendis’ singular focus. However, Bendis does get major brownie points with me for his use of Killraven. I mean, when was the last time we saw that guy? All I know is that its cool that he’s getting a little face time because I think he’s a great character.
Where I’m sure I’m going to lose alot of you is my feelings on the artwork. Now, I like JRJR, I think he’s a great talent and he’s practically synonymous with Marvel. That having been said, his work here looks rushed. I don’t doubt that he was rushed. But this is the Avengers we’re talking about. The Avengers should have the best art in the damned company as far as I’m concerned. New Avengers looks amazing. Avengers looks like a sketchbook that’s been colored in. There’s none of the finished nuance of his work on Amazing Spider-Man or KickAss (though Kickass took like three years to finish eight issues, so he probably wasn’t as rushed.) But all the same I would rather the book come out every five weeks to give the man some extra time than have an Avengers book that looks like it was drawn by someone with shaky hands and blurry eyes.
The book is still strong, it’s just weakened by Bendis being out of his comfort zone and Romita’s art running at about 50% his usual standard. But it’s good to have the real Avengers doing stuff that the real Avengers would do. Thor smashes a martian spacecraft in this issue. That’s the Avengers I love.
Marjorie Liu finishes the first arc on Black Widow as well as her tenure on the title with the fifth issue here. Next month Duane Swiercanspellhislastnameski takes over and crosses the title over with Hawkeye and Mockingbird. I don’t know what the tone shift between the two writers will be like but I’m pretty sure it’ll be minimal. This issue basically serves as a 32 page “exhibit A” as to why Black Widow is a badass. She does a lot of ass kicking here, and proves that in addition to being a spy and an Avenger she’s also a pretty good nude bondage model. (Yeah, I’ll scan that panel later, I promise.)
They’ve done a good job with this book. Black Widow isn’t the most amazing character in the world. She’s essentially a female Jason Bourne at this point. Effecient, badass, and portrayed by an A-List actor on film. As far as the writing on the book is concerned, Marjorie Liu is able to pull together the personal narrative with the spy action well enough that you’re left wondering why Black Widow hasn’t had a monthly title for so long. If there’s one thing that she does right with Natasha it’s that she makes her an organic and viable character that has room for years worth of stories based just off of the work in this introductory arc. Whatever comes next, it won’t feel like they’re trying to cash in on the character because of her appearance in Iron Man 2 but instead because there are stories that need to be told based off of what has been established.
I’m not sure what Duane is going to bring to the book, but he has big shoes to fill. Actually, I don’t know what size shoes Marjorie Liu wears. He’s got a lot to live up to that’s for sure. I expect at least one more equally awesome cold-storage bondage moment out of him before I think he’s anywhere near Liu’s level.
When I first picked up Shadowland I promised myself I wasn’t going to get the tie-ins. I was going to give Marvel the finger when it came to the side-books that had no real bearing on the actual story. Now we’re about two months in and I’ve gotten every tie-in they’ve released so far. Congrats Marvel, you’ve got your hooks so far into my hide that I can feel it in my colon. Anyhow, it’s not a bad thing because every tie-in book thus far has been worth the money. I haven’t been let down by anything in the Shadowland pantheon as of yet. I picked up this one because I was hoping to figure out where Moon Knight plays into the whole thing and how he wound up in the underground prison in the main series.
While the book does address those issues it also seems to focus on the themes presented in the Vengeance of Moon Knight book with Moony becoming a less violent hero and Khonshu taking it the wrong way, seeing as how he lives off of the blood that his avatar delivers to him through acts of vigilantism. I assume I’m getting that right, Moon Knight can be confusing sometimes. So Khonshu is haunting Moon Knight in his dreams and his waking hours in the visage of a gigantic chicken (I know he’s not really a chicken, but he looks like one and I find that funny) and another nutjob is running around as the “Shadow Knight” giving Khonshu the blood he wants and making Moon Knight feel all guilty. It’s a damned odd book but the way they weave it through the Shadowland tapestry makes it worth picking up.
Also, I guess Quesada pulled the stick out of his ass about the smoking edict because one of the characters is perpetually puffing away in this issue and that kind of made me chuckle.
Well, that’s it for this week. I’ll be back next week with more unless I get another superflu of some sort. If that happens I swear I’ll never leave the house again.