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.
And that means it’s time for a PULL LIST!
Age of X Alpha #1 – I’m so excited about Mike Carey’s Age of X storyline and can’t wait to read the kickoff here. It continues in X-Men Legacy as well as New Mutants, I believe—normally I’d be shouting “NO CROSSOVERS!” but I’m actually looking forward to this. I don’t mind if it spans two or three books—if it means more Carey, I’m for it.
Amazing Spider-Man #650 – I have to get this 2nd printing version because I somehow missed the first one when it came out a few weeks back, so I haven’t been able to read the two issues that followed. Therefore I don’t know what’s going on with the suit. No spoilers, please.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #152 – Admittedly only reading this for the return of Black Cat. I don’t really care about the upcoming “Death of Spider-Man” hoo-hah Bendis has got coming up. The first issue of this arc was pretty decent.
Secret Avengers #9 – I feel like this title is floundering a bit with the last issue or two; I’m not sure why. Maybe because it all centers around Shang-Chi and I’m finding him kind of boring at the moment. Sticking with this to get to the next arc, which I’m hoping will pick things up. Also, apparently someone needs to re-teach Mike Deodato how to draw a face.
New Avengers #8 – I don’t read Bendis’ Avengers on a regular basis; I pick it up here and there when I think it looks interesting. I tend to be more drawn to “character-driven” issues full of dialogue and interaction, as opposed to “action” issues that are just page after page of explosions. Not that I don’t like a good explosion, but … you know. I like to get into what makes characters tick, and this looks like it may be a good one. I suppose the preview pages of Luke and Jessica out for dinner could be misleading; maybe there will be an explosion at the end of the issue. Then I can’t complain.
Uncanny X-Force #4 – Love, love, love this book.
Uncanny X-Men #532 – I’m about five issues behind on this title. Greg Land … *gouges out eyeballs*
X-Men #7 – Wow, is this up to #7 already? I think I left off on #3. Has anyone been reading this?
Cursed Pirate Girl TP – I totally missed this story when it came out in single issues; I basically didn’t know it existed until last week and now I’m hearing about it everywhere. I like pirates and I like pretty art, so it’s a near certainty I’ll like this book. I hear the story’s amazing.
Other Stuff, Maybes, Borrows, Shelf-Reads:
X-23 #5 – I love the art on this book. I could take or leave Gambit, though. Marjorie Liu doesn’t let me down often.
Green Arrow #8 – I don’t know why I’m still reading this, honestly. I keep waiting for something … anything to happen that will actually make the plot MOVE somewhere. I may give it another one or two issues before I drop it.
Wonder Woman #606 – <Insert sound of car crash here>
Detective Comics #873 – Feels like five issues of this have come out since the last issue of Batman, Inc. Where’s Batman, Inc. #3? Did I blindly miss it somewhere?
Teen Titans #91 – Just ‘cause I like Damian.
Fantastic Four #587 – I’m actually not reading this; I don’t read FF, and the news has already spoiled which member is biting the dust. But for those of you who are planning to pick it up, I hear there have been some surprise packaged issues popping up with Jonathan Hickman’s original signature on the cover, so maybe you’ll get lucky.
That’s all, kids. What are YOU picking up?
Since I fear my constant bellowing over female-driven titles is giving you guys a skewed perspective as far as what is actually in my reading pile, I thought I’d do a quick “What I’m Reading” rundown post. I am a couple of weeks behind on my comics, what with the holiday rush coming up and the exhaustion of 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. work days, but I’ve been trying to keep up during my commutes. Please feel free to chime in with your own reading lists!
Batman, Inc. – Post on this coming soon!
Batman: The Return – Loved this one-shot. Very intrigued. Lots of questions. Want more.
Avengers: Children’s Crusade – So torn! Every issue of this mini has been spectacular so far, but its chronic lateness is killing me and kind of makes me not want to support it.
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents – Enjoyed the first issue a lot, having never read the original book. Very much on board for now. That Frank Quitely cover is lovely and a great homage.
Halcyon – Haven’t actually read it yet … hoping to make it to this one on the train ride home later.
Amazing Spider-Man – I gotta be honest, I rarely read this book. But I hear Dan Slott’s got a ton of awesome stuff lined up for his run that kicked off with the last issue, so it kind of piqued my interest. Also, the Black Cat cameo made me happy—I want to see Black Cat on the Avengers alongside Cap and Spidey, I would geek out pretty hardcore for that.
She-Hulks – No idea what’s going on here. Thought this was the launch of a new ongoing, but apparently it got busted back down to a four-issue mini-series. No idea who Lyra is or anything—haven’t read any Shulkie since her last Dan Slott/Peter David series got canned (which made me sad).
Scarlet – Ehhh … kind of like it, kind of don’t … still reading.
Daken: Dark Wolverine – Marjorie Liu and Daniel Way = Win. Also really liking the art on this book. Haven’t gotten to the latest issue yet.
X-23 – An issue behind. Enjoying it so far.
Uncanny X-Force – Second issue comes out today and I can’t wait to pick it up!
So, there’s my short list of just a few things from recent weeks. Any suggestions? What recent releases SHOULD I be reading that I’m not? Opinions, comments, questions welcome.
For those of you who visited the shop last week and/or received the newsletter, let me clear up one thing: Women of Marvel #1 was NOT my pick of the week. Not even close. In fact, it was Birds of Prey. I suppose I can see why whoever it was who chose that book for me in my absence did so—”It’s a book about female heroes, with female creators, and she loves Black Cat.” That sort of thing. But I think we’re failing to look at the bigger picture. And that picture is SO big, I’m not sure at what corner to begin.
Man oh man. My head is flooded with cheers and jeers. Firstly, I’m happy Marvel actually released this in print, because I’d heard of the digital versions they were providing online, but I had no intention of looking into them. I’m very against this whole “digital comics” thing for a number of reasons, but that’s really a topic for another post. Let’s talk about the comic itself.
The cover. I actually don’t mind the cover. You might be inclined to think I would despise it, right? I mean, look at that. It doesn’t exactly cry out any common ground to female readers. That’s all aimed at horny prepubescent boys—as though that demographic doesn’t get enough. But I do actually like the cover. It’s sexy without being disgusting, and while I’m often sick of artists posing female heroes in super-sexualized, “faint-hearted” poses all the time instead of in-charge, powerful poses, I essentially like this one because … a little bit of cheesecake once in a while isn’t a bad thing. This is gentle. It’s not in your face. It’s sexy without being objective or demoralizing. I have no reason to rampage about the cover—that’s really the least of my worries. It’s the interiors that are more important, because the interiors are a totally different story.
Here we have three separate mini stories, and they’re each quite a different grade in terms of quality. The first story involving Medusa and the Inhumans royal family is the strongest in terms of both writing and artwork; the second story involving Black Cat and Satana is average, middle of the sandwich, with some of the most uninspiring art I’ve seen in recent memory; and the third story involving Amora the Enchantress is arguably the weakest in both categories. I might have bought this for the Medusa story alone—cute, short, clear and to the point. Black Cat would have hooked me initially, but then completely turned me off of it and, in a fangirl rage, make me want to swear off comics forever (I do that about two or three times a week). The Enchantress story just plain bored me, which is a shame.
That said, I really need to get to the griping. I’ve held off long enough, and I have to let out some geek girl rage. Are you ready? OH MY GOD, dude—I knew Black Cat had some pretty big ones, but this is getting ridiculous. The artwork in her story is an absolutely horrifying depiction of the female body and I’m honestly angry about it. What the …? You call this book “Women of Marvel,” and THAT’S how you draw it? That’s how you portray what are meant to be the heroines of your stories? Enticing people on the cover is one thing; a complete and utter lack of substance on the inside is unforgiveable. And while I understand that the Black Cat has always had something of a “pin-up” reputation, it was also my understanding that Marvel were trying to shy away from that aspect of her character. As far as this comic goes, I’d say that was an EPIC FAIL.
As much as I love Felicia, if I were to have based my judgment on the preview pages alone, I wouldn’t have wanted to buy this. By buying it, am I supporting these great heroes and telling Marvel that I want more of them, or am I supporting this incessantly degrading artwork? I’m not really sure anymore. So I’m going to shout what is apparently becoming my battle cry: WHERE ARE THE EDITORS?! Where are the editors with the GUTS to give those pages back to the artist and say “Grow up and do it over”? Where are the family men, the Joe Quesadas of editorial who claim they would be ashamed to try to get their daughters into comics when the industry is continually plagued with garbage like this, yet go on to promote it? And all in the middle of what Marvel is calling their “Year of Women.” Disgraceful. Marvel, you ought to be ashamed. For every one good step forward (“Girl Comics”), you go on to take two disparaging steps back (“X-Women,” “Women of Marvel”). Who are we trying to kid, here?
And that Greg Land inside cover? OH MY GOD. MY BRAIN. That guy seriously needs to be fired.
So—is this book worth the four bucks for the tales that supposedly “took Marvel.com by storm”? On the one hand, we got one story done by a female creator, focusing on female characters (mostly) kicking ass, the spotlight all on them. On the other hand, it’s the body parts that spotlight was aimed toward that set me raging. Does the good outweigh the bad? I’m afraid I’m still mulling it over.
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Written by Various
Illustrated by Various
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.