Rick Remender can write the hell out of some superhero comics. He can write the hell out of comics, period. The guy doesn’t get near enough respect although his run on Secret Avengers gets a lot of love as does his Uncanny X-Force. The fact that he’s now on one of the most high profile books of the year that will bring in readers from the X-Men and Avengers camps with art from the amazing John Cassaday, I would say the general level of anticipation around this book hit some pretty high levels. I know I rushed out to pick up a copy even though I have one on order from my monthly shipment that won’t arrive for another two weeks. Was it worth it?
Let me say this, just seeing Cassaday drawing Wolverine again gave me the warm fuzzies in my geek cockles. I am an unabashed lover of his work on Astonishing X-Men and he hasn’t lost a bit of his magic. He gives these characters life and shows why he is one of the most revered artists of his generation. I don’t know what the schedule for this book will look like, because I remember Planetary and Astonishing X-Men and the intermittent shipping delays, but if the book maintains a level of quality from the artwork, I can do with some waiting. Cassaday is that good.
Remender’s scripting is equally impressive. The man knows how to launch a book. We’re coming right out of the fallout of AvX and while that series was one of meandering quality, what has been birthed from its loins is anything but mediocre. Remender gives us a look at Alex Summers at a crossroad in his life and at a crucial time in his development. He’s approached by Cap and Thor who want to bridge the camps of the Avengers and the X-Men and put hostility behind them. Of course, this is a Marvel comic so at the appropriate time the shiz hits the blades and chaos resumes at its regularly scheduled pace.
The big reveal at the end of the issue is spoiled in one of the variant covers, but if you are unaware I’ll leave it to you to discover on your own but it looks like Remender is going to go for the same sort of over-the-top drama that makes the Avengers work so well. His ideas are the perfect fit for something like this and he has delivered on his first issue. I am confident the rest of the run will live up to his debut.
Guys, this week was a killer. Probably the most major comic release date in a while. You have no idea how many people have been coming in asking about Batman Incorporated over the last few weeks. That final panel in Batman & Robin sold people in a way that I can’t really describe and I for one am thrilled that so many people are realizing how awesome Grant Morrison’s take on the Dark Knight truly is. The man knows what he’s doing. In Morrison we trust.
AVENGERS #7 3.99
BATMAN #704 2.99
BATMAN INCORPORATED #1 3.99
BATMAN THE RETURN #1 4.99
DEADPOOLMAX #2 (MR) 3.99
GREEN LANTERN #59 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
OSBORN #1 BIG (OF 4) 3.99
POWER GIRL #18 2.99
SIXTH GUN #6 3.99
SPIDER-GIRL #1 BIG 3.99
SUPERGIRL #58 2.99
SUPERIOR #2 (OF 6) (MR) 2.99
SUPERMAN #705 2.99
THUNDERBOLTS #150 4.99
X-23 #3 2.99
X-MEN #5 3.99
Now after a good long day of writing about prostitution in the middle ages for a history paper, I can tell you about how awesome a few of these books are.
The weakest of the new Batman releases is the core title, which sadly seems like a middle of the road affair by Tony Daniel when compared to the amazing work done by Morrison and Finch in the other books released this week. Not to say that the book is horrible, it’s better than it has been recently, especially Daniel’s art which looks less rushed than I’m used to, but unfortunately the entirety of the book seems rather pedestrian when placed alongside the nearly pitch-perfect Batman Incorporated title. I think my main gripe with this title comes from the fact that it reads like a throwaway title from the late nineties or early two-thousands in it’s pacing, its art, and its choice of villainry.
The book suffers from feeling all too familiar to stories we already read but with minor tweaks. Unfortunately, the books that this seems derivitive of aren’t the best parts of Batman lore. I think that the book could stand to take a few more risks rather than settle into a comfort zone that’s so blatantly par for the course.
Then again, when Tony Daniel takes risks we get Catgirl, a character that I almost want to like out of the sheer absurdity of her existence. But then again, my tastes differ in certain areas from the general public so I won’t take a stand on that character until she’s had the chance to mature under another team of writers.
This book is everything you should want in a Batman title. Morrison manages to find the right balance of tone between the ridiculous, the macabre, the adventurous, and the outright fun. The book essentially turns into a globetrotting Bruce and Selina super-happy-fun action hour where Batman and Catwoman fly to Japan to begin preparations for that branch of the Batman Inc. plan to be put into motion but are sidetracked by a murder mystery and a cult of ninja assassins. There’s even some tentacle rape hentai jokes that seem all too appropriate coming from the mind of Grant Morrison.
The artwork on display here is robust and amazing. They really could not have found a better fit. Paquette’s Selina is as sexy as she’s ever been and the subtle touches he uses to portray Batman are astounding. It’s one of the best looking Batman books in a long time, rivaled only by Finch’s work in The Return which I’ll be discussing shortly.
If you pass on this one you will regret it later. This one is a home run in every sense of the damn word. Buy this book now!
I was wary of this particular title. That apprehension faded after the first few pages where Grant Morrison gives us what equates to graphic poetry, telling the story from the perspective of the bat that crashed into Bruce’s life when he needed to find his avatar. David Finch’s artwork guided the narrative with masterful flow and tone, showing off some of his most brilliantly stylized work to date.
That the art is this good is not surprising, given the subject matter and how much Finch loves to work with shadows and the darkness, but the complexities of the narrative were surprising considering that this is essentially the jumping-on point for new readers and Morrison made no attempt to censor his sensibilities and gave us intricate mysterious plot threads as well as hyper-neo-noir technological action adventure with jetpacks and robotics intertwined with some nitty gritty fight scenes.
If you’re planning on reading any of this week’s bat titles I highly recommend that you start off with this one as it outlines the new status quo for Batman quite handily and works to assure us that the people working on every title are going to be working as a cohesive unit to tell what seems like a hell of a story and if this one-shot is any indication, they’ll be bringing their a-game every step of the way.
From Marvel we get the newly minted 616 version of Spider-Girl, formerly Arana, in her first solo title. The whole Young Allies thing didn’t seem to work out so well so I’m pensive about this title, but hopefully they’ll let it go long enough to deter fans from yelling at them for cancelling what amounts to their only major female-driven solo title. (Scarlet doesn’t count, guys.)
It’s off to a good start. Establishing the cast of characters and letting the new readers get to know Arana in case they haven’t followed her from her humble beginnings in the revamped Amazing Fantasy from a few years back. The storytelling style is sound and concise, but from someone like Tobin who has a pretty firm grasp on narrative technique this isn’t really a surprise. The plotline seems familiar, as most superhero books are bound to borrow from each other a bit, but the expression, through a “twitter”-esque thought balloon parade seems fresh enough to distinguish it from other similar go-arounds.
I’m hoping it will stick around long enough to take off, because the character really is an interesting one. I especially liked her when she was in Ms. Marvel, another title that I sorely miss.
And now I go back to writing about whores. I guess this is what Frank Miller feels like all the time. A-ZING!!!!
I had a horrible night last night. Like, soul crushingly horrible. I was crestfallen and engulfed by rage. I ripped the towel rack out of the wall in the bathroom and punched a wall. Luckily, all of this happened after I read this week’s comics because I’m sure my feelings would have tainted my reading experience. Maybe they’ll hamper my reviewing experience but I can’t say for sure. You’ll have to judge that.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #636 GRIM 3.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #13 2.99
BATMAN ODYSSEY #1 (OF 6) 3.99
BOYS #44 (MR) 3.99
IRON MAN LEGACY #4 2.99
JONAH HEX #57 2.99
JSA ALL STARS #8 3.99
SCARLET #1 (MR) 3.95
SECRET SIX #23 2.99
SHADOWLAND #1 (OF 5) SL 3.99
STEVE ROGERS SUPER-SOLDIER #1 (OF 4) 3.99
X-FORCE #28 XSC 2.99
X-MEN #1 3.99
YOUNG ALLIES #2 2.99
Now let’s get to it…
BATMAN AND ROBIN # 13
Yeah, Grant Morrison may have written his best issue of Batman yet. Everything that he has laid the groundwork for comes to a head in this issue. Morrison is not a fool, nor has he done anything that didn’t have a point. All the attention to detail that has gone into creating a tapestry of different plot threads that all reveal themselves in this issue.
I explained to people when it was finished that Batman RIP was not a self contained story. Everyone looked at it like a graphic novel in and of itself, this simply isn’t the best way to view the story. It’s a chapter in the overall story the same way that The Black Glove or Batman and Son were. It all is a piece of the puzzle that Morrison has presented. The events of this issue would not have worked without the events of RIP.
Morrison is doing some of the best Batman work of all time, and it’s not a gimmick. It’s not like Dark Knight Returns where it has no real bearing on the character aside from what writers choose to take from the message. This is a book that takes major risk on a monthly basis, in continuity. It’s not easy to do stuff like that and get away with it. Fanboys do not like change. And while we know that the status quo will eventually return, it will be changed by the events of this book in a manner that will almost be undetectable. After a run like Morrison’s, it will be hard to accept anything less than what he has delivered. It’s why what came after Hush was so rejected. Not that Hush is anywhere in the league of what Morrison is doing, but it hooked readers in and it had people looking for things that weren’t there in an attempt to keep up with the writer’s pace.
Seriously, I would rank Morrison as one of the best Bat writers of the last twenty years thanks solely to what he has done since launching Batman and Robin as a title. This is just another direct example I can point to when people ask me why.
BATMAN ODYSSEY # 1
This was probably my most anticipated book this week. I adore Neal Adams. I think he is the definitive Batman artist, alongside Jim Aparo of course. That having been said, I have never been exposed to anything that he has done as a writer. He may be one of the greatest artists ever to work in the comic business but as a writer, he’s largely a blank slate as far as I can tell. With the first issue of Odyssey, we can see that his writing style is clearly influenced by the writers he worked with back in the glory days of the dark knight. There is a little Denny O’Neil in his wordsmithery. I’ll admit that alot of the dialog seemed forced, and the flow of certain word balloons was distracting, but then again, that can be said of alot of comic books nowadays. I think it was just more noticeable because I was aware of the fact that Adams was writing for his own pen. I saw the same stuff on Tony Daniel’s work on the main Bat title.
Is the book good, though? That’s the main question that needs answering I suppose, and it is a decent little Batman yarn. The art is great, as if it needed to be said. I think the thing that strikes me is that it’s clearly a tale set in Batman’s past, though I can’t place where. I would have loved to see Adams write a contemporary Batman. I’m sure that would have sold better than a mini-series, as I can see a bunch of people trade waiting on this one. I won’t, because I want to support Adams in whatever he does, but I think from a marketing standpoint they may have stumbled a bit.
Still, no matter how you read it, you shouldn’t be disappointed.
THE BOYS # 44
So we finally get the moment we’ve known was going to happen since early on in the series. The only problem is that Garth Ennis gives it to us in the last panel so we have to wait a month to see the aftermath. Fuck you, Garth. Your mastery of toying with your audience is unparalleled.
Seriously, Ennis knows exactly when to drop the necessary bomb on the readers. He’s been escalating things for months now and everything is coming to a boil. I think the fact that Ennis stated when he began that the series would be finite with a pre-established ending helps to inform the reader that the pacing is deliberate. There are moments where the book comes close to seeming dull and then the veil is removed to show us something we didn’t expect.
This is definitely some of Ennis’ best work. I say that with conviction. I find it on par with his Hitman run and a shade close to matching some of the stuff he did on Preacher. The reason people don’t latch on to this book the way they did with Preacher is that The Boys isn’t as broad as Preacher was. Ennis knew that he could stir up controversy with the tiniest flair on Preacher. With the Boys he’s not really seeking to offend, but to play with heroes in a way that makes a statement on how he feels about the world in general. I don’t believe that Ennis believed everything he did in Preacher but I’m almost sure he does when it comes to The Boys.
SCARLET # 1
I think the easiest way to describe Scarlet is that Bendis has written what Millar wishes he could have with Nemesis. We get a violent subversive anti-hero protagonist who is introduced in the middle of murdering a cop and who is clearly willing to upset the system in any way she can. But unlike Millar who goes broad stroke in every manner imaginable, Bendis prefers to focus on the character first rather than the spectacle of the character’s actions. I think that the narrating directly to reader helps to facilitate this. Nemesis blows up a train to make a point and I felt nothing except dirty because the book wants me to view his actions as extreme with a measure of awesome, whereas when Scarlet chokes out a cop the gut reaction I had was one of knowing there was probably a reason for it beyond “here’s a villain.”
Bendis knows his storytelling. If he didn’t he wouldn’t be teaching classes about it at the collegiate level. It all comes down to whether you like his style. If you enjoy his work on Goldfish, Jinx, or the Powers books, you’ll probably enjoy this one. But there will be a number of people who hate it without reading it just because it has Bendis’ name on it.
SHADOWLAND # 1
This is gonna be a good one folks. Daredevil has been on a tear for years and finally he’s getting the spotlight he deserves. Each successive writer on the title has been outdoing the last since Bendis took over the book and we’ve finally reached a place where the boiling point has been hit.
Writer Andy Diggle has taken Matt Murdock to a place that we never really could have expected. It’s a shocking turn to see him in charge of the Hand, but at the same time the events that led to where Matt has ended up in no way work against what has developed. Normally, you would think there would be no way Matt Murdock would become the leader of the Hand. It just goes against everything that Daredevil has fought for, but the way that it’s been set up makes you feel like if it didn’t work out this way, it would be a cop out.
As for the issue itself, let’s just say that you know how it’s going to end a few pages in but you don’t care because you want to see it happen and you know that the ensuing shitstorm will be an amazing story. Simply put, it does not disappoint in any department. It’s an event book done right and I cannot wait for the second issue.
X-MEN # 1
I don’t know Vic Gischler personally. He bought a Lady Deadpool poster from my store on the one day that week I wasn’t at work. We banter about really dumb shit on twitter from time to time and that’s about it. So don’t think there’s some conspiracy when I praise his work on a regular basis. He just happens to write stuff that I think is really good. If I can ever find a damned copy, I’d like to review his book The Deputy but none of the local bookstores carry it and I don’t feel like ordering anything else off of the internet until I pay off my latest Amazon bill.
Anyway, yeah, X-Men # 1 is pretty good. It’s got Jubilee, so you know I’m going to like it. But it also isn’t the unending doom and gloom that’s taking place in every other title, and while Second Coming has been awesome thus far, it’s also starting to wear me down with it’s unending bleakness. It’s almost too much to take sometimes. So it’s a welcome change just to get Wolverine slashing apart a bunch of vampires. It’s just the sort of thing I want in an X-Men title right now. Problems solved with claws and laser eyes.
And Jubilee. I freaking love Jubilee.
And we’re done. I’ll be back tomorrow with a review of Predators.
I’m not gonna lie to you folks, this is mostly an excuse to post hot pictures of Rosamund Pike and Emma Frost in a single post. I will say that I like the casting, she’s blonde and British and hot, so she fits just about all the necessary criteria.
Rosamund Pike, the British actress who appeared most recently in Surrogates, may be playing Emma Frost, aka the White Queen in next summer’s X-Men: First Class, according to a story at Forces of Geek. (via SuperheroHype)
I’m hoping it’s true, because I really want to see some Emma Frost on the big screen.
So…you probably should have seen this coming. (Telepathy joke. Owned.)
From Marvel’s Swimsuit Special back in the day…VAL COOPER IN A BIKINI EVERYBODY!
By now, if you’re in any way a comic book geek or collector you’ve heard about this weekend’s ginormous Amazon sale/glitch that saw Marvel omnibus editions normally retailing for upwards of fifty US dollars or more being sold off at prices of around eight to fifteen dollars a pop. I, like many people, went absolutely apeshit and bought close to TWO HUNDRED dollars worth of hardcovers I otherwise would never have had the means to obtain. I was overjoyed, thinking that somehow this was a liquidation on Diamond’s part that somehow trickled down to the consumer level in a way that had never before been witnessed.
A few hours after placing my order, the news broke that it was in fact a glitch and that the prices were reverting to their regular high double-digit levels. A collective holding of breath ensued from everyone who bought a discounted book that day, myself included. Reports have come out of people getting notices of cancelation for their orders. As of this writing, I have not recieved one. If you talk to some folks, Amazon plans to honor the orders up to a point. If you ordered fifteen copies of the Captain America omnibus, you’re probably not going to get those books. Those orders will either be cancelled or have their numbers reduced to a single copy. There are rumors running about that Diamond has given a few people their walking papers over this incident, which leads me to believe that they’re going to be eating some cash on this deal and hoping to stem the damage by placing direct blame on someone.
No matter how this little drama unfolds, we learn a crucial lesson about the marketplace. Fans want cheaper books. I know this isn’t a huge surprise, considering how irritated the fanboys get whenever a price increase hits the cover page of their favorite book. But from a larger standpoint, this incident echoes what I’ve been saying for a LONG time about how the trade market is getting it backwards nowadays.
I would say that around 50% of the trade paperbacks that come out onto the market cost MORE than the original issues. Now, when I first started buying trades it was because I could save anywhere from 5-10 dollars overall on a title by purchasing the collection as opposed to the issues. That was the incentive to buy trades, wasn’t it? But now you’ll see a book that in issue would have run you 12-15 bucks showing up in collected form running 20-24 bucks. Where is the logic here? People won’t buy the book in issue format because they think that’s too expensive and you expect us to pay MORE when it hits collection?
It’s all part of why we’re not seeing much industry growth nowadays. The powers that be have made reading comics cost prohibitive. There are companies like Top Cow, who have refused to jump to 3.99 and put out some of the most reasonably priced trade collections in the industry, but they don’t have enough of a market share to really make an impact. Imagine of Marvel started making more trades set at $9.99 a copy. To a consumer, when they see a trade that’s under ten bucks, they might be tempted to pick it up based on value alone. A trade collection of 4-6 issues for ten bucks, while two issues of a main line title run 4 bucks a pop; the consumer would get more for his money. I have seen this principle first hand while working in the store. The average consumer cannot turn a blind eye to a good value, as evidenced by this Amazon glitch. This glitch put multiple comic collections into the TOP SELLING AMAZON ITEMS list.
The lesson is simple. Price to sell, people. Give us quality at value and we will buy.
As of 03-09-2010 at 12:15 PM my initial order has dropped down to five of the items I’d ordered. Volumes 1-4 of Punisher MAX, The Uncanny X-Men Omnibus, and Volumes 1-3 of New X-Men collection have been removed. The Captain America, Criminal, Ultimates, and Wolverine Omnibuses are still on the invoice, as well as vol. 5 of Punisher MAX. Will they be shipped? Not yet sure.
***UPDATE # 2***
As of 03-12-2010 my entire order was canceled. Sadly, this whole thing was too good to be true. However, I did get a free $25.00 credit from Amazon out of it, so it’s not a total loss. In fact, I pretty much count this as a win. I would have loved to have gotten what I ordered, but from the moment it was announced as a glitch, I could see that I would most likely not be getting those books. Maybe I will find them discounted to an affordable degree at a convention or some other locale. Maybe.