Bruce Wayne The Road Home: Batgirl #1
I’ve read three of the Road Home books so far, and this was the one I enjoyed the most by far (with Catwoman taking the title for worst). Bruce’s return, of course, has a huge impact on Stephanie and what she’s been up to since Bruce Wayne “died,” and this issue is pretty much what you’d hope for/expect: Bruce coming face-to-face with Stephanie and “testing” whether or not she’s worthy of wearing the Bat uniform. We also get a throwback to what may be happening with Cassandra Cain. The best part about this one-shot is that Stephanie doesn’t buckle under the pressure from Bruce, but rather maintains her fun-loving attitude, which has always been what differentiates her from Cassandra. Stephanie’s come a long way since her days as Spoiler/Robin, and her Batgirl title has been an entertaining, enjoyable read. Adored this issue.
Amazing Spider-Man Presents: Black Cat #4 (of 4) *SEMI-SPOILERS*
What I love about Jen Van Meter’s take on Black Cat is that her writing makes it clear just how much she cares about the character. There’s been a lot of time put into this mini-series, evident in the research that’s been done and the love with which the story was crafted. The final chapter of this four-parter wrapped up some loose ends in the thievery at hand and the Kravinoff family’s entanglement in the Spider-Man series. The best, and maybe worst part, depending on how you look at it, is the cliffhanger I didn’t see coming, wherein Felicia attempts to steal what we presume to be Captain America’s original shield. I would really love if they followed up on this somewhere, maybe in another mini or in a different Spidey title, but I’m not sure of the likelihood of that. At any rate, I was happy Marvel gave Black Cat a chance at her own mini, and I’m still hoping for more with the quality provided by Van Meter.
This book was marketed as “something different”—Millar’s ode to classic super heroes. And so I picked it up with high hopes … but you know what? This is pretty much just more of the same. How does that saying go? “You can put lipstick on a pig, but at the end of the day, it’s still a pig”? My problem with Mark Millar these days is that everything he writes is basically just a script—a pitch, a treatment for a movie. It’s Millar saying “Make me more money, baby,” not “I’m telling a great story, baby.” Why have so many comics gone so far down this cash-seeking pipeline, instead of doing what they SHOULD be doing and what has worked in print for centuries—the method and outcome of simply aiming for good, quality storytelling? I’m sorry, readers, but as of issue one, I’m not confident that this book is going to deliver that. Rather, if you’re looking for cheap, re-hashed ideas and unimaginative writing, this book is indeed for you.
The first issue of what is meant to be Millar and Yu’s creator-owned masterpiece centers around a young boy named Simon who has multiple sclerosis and is confined to a wheelchair. The book opens with Simon and his friend Chris watching a movie about the superhero Superior, whom Simon idolizes. As the two leave the cinema, a group of thugs meets them outside and begins to bully them (where have I seen this before? Hmm… Kick-Ass, I think?). Simon goes home and we learn his back-story in the form of outright narration—that is, we learn the entire essence of what makes this boy tick over a mere couple pages. The “show, don’t tell” golden rule of good writing takes a backseat so that Millar can be lazy and crank out this first issue pretty quickly. The issue in a nutshell: a mysterious monkey in an astronaut suit (quite possibly the only saving grace of this title) does some magic voodoo what’s-it and transforms Simon into Superior for reasons as yet unknown—costume, appearance, powers and all. The issue ends with Simon floating outside of Chris’ window, seeking help. It’s 1988 again and we’re watching Big, apparently.
Aside from the monkey, the only other good thing about this comic is Leinil Yu’s artwork. He is absolutely on his game here, and it couldn’t look more lovely or tell the tale any more effectively.
Will I keep reading this? Without a doubt. I want to see if it gets any better, any less maladroit, and any more interesting. Millar’s got me at least until the end of the first arc. As it currently stands—not particularly impressed. Maybe the inevitable movie version will be better.
Publisher: Marvel Comics (ICON Imprint)
Written by Mark Millar
Penciled by Francis Leinil Yu
Inked by Gerry Alanguilan
Colored by Dave McCaig
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
At the end of the tragic car wreck that was the “Second Coming” storyline, Cyclops disbanded his super secret black ops X-Force team as the result of much scrutiny when the news of their existence leaked to the other X-Men. Little does Cyclops know, however, that Wolverine and Archangel have taken it upon themselves to continue their black ops missions of their own accord with a new crew of members. Gone are X-23, Warpath, Domino, etc. Welcome: Psylocke, Deadpool, and Fantomex.
Not exactly who you’d expect, right?
Neither did I. But oh my God, does Remender make this work.
It’s perfect. You’ve got two strong leaders in Archangel and Wolverine. You have comic relief and general hilarity in Deadpool. You have depth and conflict in Fantomex. And you have ninja badassery in Psylocke. The cogs in this fit tremendously well, while still maintaining the potential for great conflict down the line.
I read an interview with Remender a few weeks ago where he described his take on the series and characters—how they work individually, and how they fit in together as a team—and it filled me with confidence that he knows what he’s doing. Now that I’ve read the first issue, that confidence has only been further cemented, and I’m beyond excited to see how it all develops.
Issue one opens with Deadpool doing some scouting of a threat as-yet-unknown to the audience. He sends out a distress signal to Archangel for assistance, who receives it after waking in the middle of the night beside Psylocke, with whom he has re-started a relationship. What’s more, Psylocke is now using her telepathy to keep Warren’s belligerent Archangel persona in check, and the two characters have a little heart-to-heart in regard to their fears of controlling “him” (Archangel).
Elsewhere, Wolverine thwarts a heist by Fantomex, and the entire team convenes in E.V.A. to rescue Deadpool. Along the way, Warren briefs them in regard to what they’re about to face—Apocalypse is back, he believes, and he wants to take him down no matter the cost. As the team fights its way to Deadpool, we’re privy to some excellent narration and analysis of the team from Fantomex. Remender does a fantastic job of using Fantomex’s observations as an insight to this group of characters, and gives some great foreshadowing of what we can expect to see of them in the future.
The issue ends with a confirmation that, yes—Apocalypse has indeed returned—but not in the manner you’d think. Jerome Opena’s art does well in these revelations, which is a pleasant surprise. After seeing a few preview pages, I expected not to like his work, but he actually suits the book and the characters quite well. So far, Uncanny X-Force has been very much what I’d hoped and more. I think the creative team on this book is on to something clever, and I’m absolutely psyched to see how they handle it.
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Written by Rick Remender
Illustrated by Jose Opena
Colors by Dean White
Letters by VC’s Cory Petit