Before I get into the reviews, let me just mention what is sure to be a fantastic new web comic, Lady Sabre & the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether by Greg Rucka and Rick Burchett. It’s just launched this week and so far I am pretty excited. Rucka is one of my favorite writers (and a totally cool person to boot), Burchett’s art looks lovely, and the site design is awesome. Worth checking out and supporting, so spread the word!
Avengers: Children’s Crusade #6 – Oh. Amazing. Just … completely wonderful. More comics should be this. MORE OF THIS, PLEASE, MARVEL.
Batman, Inc. #7 – I was ready to give up on the Batman, Inc. title after what I thought was a horrible arc in Argentina. Morrison lost me pretty hard with some of his writing techniques and the fact that I basically had no idea what was happening for like three issues. Then all this DC reboot stuff came up, and everyone’s all like “You have to read Batman, Inc. or the Bat books won’t make sense!” I guess I still don’t really understand how ANYTHING’S going to make sense as far as how we can keep the continuity in this title when characters are changing in so many other titles come September, but all right, whatever—I’ll bite. The book is ending soon, anyway—I’ll stay on for the ride and see what happens. So then I picked up this issue and was … absolutely glued to it. Wow. What? Where was THIS stuff hiding? I truly enjoyed this issue on so many levels. The story was meaningful, the artwork by Chris Burnham was a pleasure, the writing was clean and purposeful, and it didn’t teeter off the path or dillydally like it did in previous issues. The story is entirely self-contained in this one issue, and it’s friggin’ fantastic. I finished this and wondered why more Grant Morrison comics couldn’t be written in a similar manner. Morrison takes two characters I have never read or knew of before and creates something that feels so easy and humble. He rarely does that for me—so much of the time when I read his stories, they feel condescending or “holier-than-thou.” This one doesn’t, and it’s perfect. I enjoyed this issue a lot, and thus am now expectant of the remainder of the series to be the same. Read this. I don’t want to summarize the plot—just give it a read.
The Guild: Bladezz One-Shot – So, I’m kind of obsessed with The Guild. If you’re a gamer and have never watched this web show, do yourself a favor and check it out, because it’s awesome and hilarious. Watch it on the website. Watch it on YouTube. Netflix it. Get the DVDs off Amazon. Whatever—just do it. It’s become such a hit, in fact, that Dark Horse has taken to publishing one-shot Guild comics for each member of the Knights of Good. I’d recommend reading the short Guild miniseries that came out last year as well, as it serves as a prequel to the show and gives some more depth to the main character. It’s also super short, inexpensive, and collected in trade for your convenience. Anyway, tangent—Bladezz is the third one-shot to be produced, after Vork and Tinkerballa. It’s on par with its predecessors, if not slightly better. I have an affinity for Bladezz as a character, I think he’s pretty damn hilarious, and I found his one-shot light and funny. The artwork isn’t really my taste, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad, and it’s basically in line with the issues before it. So, bottom line—read Guild comics. They’ll give you +5 to Sexterity.
Wolverine/Black Cat: Claws 2 #1 – … Are you serious right now? Are you absolutely serious? Reading this, I could feel a part of my brain crack apart and die. I don’t even want to glorify it with a full review, suffice it to say Palmiotti’s writing is nothing more than fanservice and brings me to a hysterical fit of tears, and Linsner on art is eye-gouging. Don’t go near this thing. Just … don’t. It’s actually worse than the first one. If you can imagine that.
I wrote you all what I thought was a witty write-up on PAX East, but my computer apparently liked it so much that it ate it. I apologize that I don’t have the patience to re-create from memory what was quite a long post, so I offer you blurb reviews in its place. Not quite the same, I know, but we make do with what we have. Off we go!
I’ve never read the original Ruse title, or any other Crossgen series for that matter. But when I heard about this book coming back along with Sigil under Marvel’s takeover of Crossgen as an imprint, I figured there wouldn’t be a better time for me to jump in, and Ruse sounded pretty intriguing from the solicits. The first issue didn’t let me down, and I liked that it was easy to get into as a new reader without needing to look up years of back story. I like Mark Waid’s manner of storytelling, and the artwork creates a great tone for the book as we follow a grand detective and his “assistant” (small joke) solve a murder. Waid opens the book right in the thick of things, and it only gets better from there. I have to say, I was a little worried that the female character in this series was going to come off as some helpless, futile figure only along for the sake of “bettering” the male character. My fears aren’t entirely subsided from the first issue—but there’s reason for hope. I’m on board.
When I first saw the solicitation for this in Previews, my reaction was something along the lines of “OMG ANOTHER ONE WHAT THE HELL I HATE YOU MARVEL.” I really didn’t, and still don’t, see a reason for this issue to exist, other than to try to fill the absurd gap between current issues of Children’s Crusade, and even then, it’s pointless. Also, what’s with the title? That’s honestly the best they could come up with? You shock me, guys. Anyway, if you’re reading Children’s Crusade, you can pretty much skip over this entirely with no consequences whatsoever. The only thing we learn from this one-shot is that Kang the Conqueror (Iron Lad of the future) tricks his past/current self (Iron Lad of the present) to go back and try to stop the Young Avengers from rescuing the Scarlet Witch so that they don’t get killed by the real Avengers … or something like that. Yeah, I can’t even explain it, basically because it makes no sense and has no value to the story whatsoever. Cheap gimmicks all around. Also not a fan of Davis’ art. Avoid this like the plague, but pick up the next issue of Children’s Crusade (which I have yet to get to).
I’m still debating how I feel about this one. You know what? It really wasn’t bad. It wasn’t the BEST thing I’ve read lately, not by a long shot, but it was entertaining and kind of a breezy read. I like the duo of Black Widow and Agent 13, and I loved the comedic and witty interplay instituted by Deconnick. It’s a bit campy, a bit short, but overall a different flavor to the other books in the pile. Natasha and Sharon Carter walk into a trap in order to rescue a girl from … um … some other girls. Trained assassins. Hi-jinks ensue. Witty comebacks are delivered. And Steve Rogers is stuck at a desk doing paperwork while the ladies are out there rather swiftly kicking some ass. The art is a bit stylized and “sketchy” as opposed to “clean,” which worked for me. Hmm. I’ve decided I like this. It’s a one-shot, and that’s enough.
*High-pitched voice* AWESOMENEEESSSSSSSSSSS! I read this during my train commute in the ungodly hours of the morning, half groggy when I opened to the first page. It quickly woke me up. This story was not at all what I expected, particularly by the end. One look at that front cover and you’re kind of sick from all the hearts, right? But don’t judge a book—at least, THIS book—by its cover. This is a one-issue story, and in it, Gail Simone crafts yet another tale of action peppered with comedy, a little bit of tenderness, and some seriously solid badassery (sans Hawk and Dove, which was admittedly a nice breather). I’ll tell you what we have here: a jewel heist. A hostage. A tense romance. A full-grown man in a cat suit. And, come the final pages, one seriously pissed off Huntress. It shouldn’t need any more convincing than that. PICK THIS UP!
Wow. First of all, this was gorgeous. Absolutely beautiful to look at—eye candy in a pure sense, rather than the usual cheesecake sense. Do you ever read a comic where you’re stuck looking at the same page—same panel—for minutes on end, just to make sure you’ve caught all the details and intricacies? That’s what this book was like. I’d read a lot of hype online about this miniseries, and I was hooked on the “MMO” angle it sounded like it was going to take. It’s actually so much more than that, though. The story is set a world apart from the one we know, and it’s clear by the first issue that the gaming setting is going to be secondary to what’s really happening here. The notion that this is Nate Simpson’s first comic work is surprising—his simple, direct writing and his artistic layouts are spectacular and echo the experience of someone who you’d think has been in the industry for a while. Hopeful that the rest of the series continues this level of excellence. The book is already on a second printing; definitely check this one out if you can get your hands on it.
Only three today; I did very little reading over the holiday break aside from working through some Fables trades, and I’m woefully behind on all the new stuff that’s come out in recent weeks. Bear with me as I try to fill some holes in my collection and get somewhat up-to-date. I hope everyone had a safe, warm, and lovely holiday.
Birds of Prey #7 – Aww, this issue broke my heart a little. This title has been consistently excellent (I usually avoid reviewing it because I would just be going “YAY THIS IS AMAZING I LOVE BIRDS OF PREY HOORAY GAIL SIMONE” every month), and #7 is no kink in the chain. The usual mix of action, humor, drama, and intrigue, this issue finds Bruce Wayne Batman (so funny that we have to distinguish which Batman we’re talking about these days) checking in on Oracle, who proceeds to take him on a tour of her new headquarters. There’s also some fuel to the “DC is killing off Oracle” rumors, but it’s not exactly what you think, and I’m interested to see if it goes where I predicted it would in Barbara simply taking on a different mantle. Best scene in the issue involves the Birds on a night out—any time Zinda’s got a beer in her hands, you can guarantee hilarity. My only peeve with this book right now is the fact that every single issue has to introduce all the characters over and over and over again: “Black Canary. Dinah Lance. Devastating sonic scream. Blah blah blah.” All right, editorial, we get it. Can we leave the new-reader-friendly intros to just the first issue of each new arc and leave them there? Thanks.
Birds of Prey #8 is due out this Wednesday; I’ll be doing my happy dance.
Young Avengers Children’s Crusade #4 (of 9) – I really, really, really want to hate this book. I want to hate it because it’s absurdly late, and I feel neglected as a consumer. I feel like Heinberg and Marvel are going to take their sweet time, regardless of promises. I want to hate them for that, and I want to not buy this book. But … oh, it’s just so good. I just love it. Issue four finds Wiccan up against Doctor Doom; an amnesiac Scarlet Witch without her powers and about to be wed; a ticked-off Wolverine seconds away from killing her once and for all, and the surprise re-emergence of a character I did not see coming at all. This mini is apparently worth the agonizing amount of time it’s taking to publish, because it’s clever and FUN and entertaining and … it’s FUN! It’s a lot of what most comics are missing these days. There’s a real PLOT that is actually FOLLOWED. There’s exposition and dialogue that come together to–*gasp*–give CHARACTER. And have I mentioned that it’s fun? Quite frankly, I need more Young Avengers in my life. This book is awesome. Go buy it right now.
Wonder Woman #whatever because I don’t care about this book to keep track anymore – It’s sad, really. To go from such a high in the preceding review to … this. Sweet Jesus, I don’t know why I’m still reading. WHY am I still reading?! I just can’t stop. Just when I think it couldn’t POSSIBLY get any worse—just when I thought Phil Hester was bound to clean things up, I am proven so utterly, completely, hideously wrong with this issue. What plunging depths of horribleness will we reach, I wonder? Better yet, how is this even happening? In this issue, Wonder Woman:
– Threatens to beat up/gets in a fight with a store clerk
– Steals a significant amount of money
– Listens to heavy metal? (While there’s nothing wrong with this music, it’s just not an image I associate with Wonder Woman.)
– Consistently encourages violence and revenge. Whhaaaa?
Why, I ask, are the words “Wonder Woman” still being displayed across the title page of this book? I understand she’s basically a “different character” with a different back story and continuity here (thanks again, JMS), but … whhaaaa? Why, in her CORE AND ONLY BOOK, are we delving even further and further away from what makes Diana different from other superheroes, as opposed to a carbon copy of every other angsty teenager DC already has in their arsenal? Why are we delving further away from who she is? Couldn’t DC have done an “Ultimate” version of Wonder Woman—call it “All-Star” or whatever other line you want to give it, and leave the Wonder Woman we all know and love alone in her main title for those of us who appreciate her? I might have been able to tolerate this version if I knew she wasn’t the only version currently available to me. I feel like I keep asking the same questions over and over. Why is Diana still the only one of the Big Three who doesn’t have more than one title? Wasn’t this the perfect chance for that? How do DC expect to encourage love for a character by completely changing every aspect of her personality? Have we learned nothing from the disaster that was mod squad Wonder Woman? I’m not even going to touch on my myriad other complaints. My only shred of hope here is the fact that the plot alluded to a very slight possibility of things eventually returning to normal, and I am beside myself with the desire for that to happen. I just don’t think I can hold my breath long enough.
Sigh. I need something cool to wash away the bad taste left in my mouth after that last review. So here’s this:
From Dinosaur Comics, with thanks to my friend Jon for pointing it out.
You know who I love? The Young Avengers. They’re just so darn adorable. This book gave me what I needed in my comics this week: some fun. Heinberg and Cheung have, in the course of two issues, successfully resurrected the chemistry that made their original run on Young Avengers so enjoyable, and I find myself wishing for a YA ongoing again. There is excitement, fun, humor, and drama in Children’s Crusade #2, and I can’t wait to see what else Heinberg has up his sleeve.
Having made the decision to find the Scarlet Witch, the Young Avengers were taken by surprise by the appearance of Magneto at the end of the last issue, who claims he would like their help in finding his daughter and restoring her reputation. Magneto comes across as truly apologetic and regretful about how he’s treated his family in the past, and seeks to atone for the harm he’s done his daughter. Of course, not all of the Young Avengers fall for his sentiments, believing that Magneto’s reputation guarantees he is only using them. Meanwhile, a fight ensues between the … um—”Old” Avengers? “Regular” Avengers?—and Magneto, as the heroes are understandably wary of his interference with the impressionable group of adolescents. Before we know it, the young team and Magneto are transported to Wundagore via Wiccan’s spell, where Quicksilver makes his inevitable appearance, and a cliffhanger reveals what may be the true fate of Wanda Maximoff. There are lovely moments of character interaction—clearly Heinberg’s strength—and each character sounds and feels like their own individual selves. No person runs into or sounds like the next, which is something that plagues Bendis’ Avengers. To top it off, Jimmy Cheung’s clean art takes this dish and adds the spice that makes the series even more enjoyable. It’s good, clean, mutanty fun, and I love it! (See, I can be positive!)
I have only one complaint about this book (sorry, I guess it’s unavoidable), and that’s its lateness, which is shaping up to be chronic. Anyone who has read Young Avengers has already experienced Heinberg and Cheung’s apparent lack of urgency—yet, when this current mini was solicited, we were told that a number of issues were already completed, written and drawn. I was pleased by the promise of regularly published issues … but it has been two months since issue #1 debuted, and it looks like #3 isn’t due out until November. Unless I’m wrong and this is a bi-monthly book, I’m not sure what’s going on here, and slightly offended as a consumer that this isn’t being taken more seriously. Hey, Marvel: If you want us to buy your stuff, you might want to consider producing it on time. But, short of it taking a year, I’ll still be on board for issue #3.
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Written by Allan Heinberg
Pencils by Jim Cheung
Inks by Mark Morales w/Jim Cheung
Colors by Justin Ponsor
Letters by VC’s Cory Petit