Haven’t picked up my comics in a couple of weeks, nor have I had the time to read what I have, so it’s going to be a review-less weekend. To satiate your appetite, head on over to Nerd Caliber for a little ditty I wrote up on Marvel’s 2012 event, Avengers vs. X-Men, and check out some of their other fun features as well.
I hope everyone kept safe during Snowtober and that everyone has their power back. We’re kicking things off early, huh, New England? Good thing I have a gigantic threatening stack of reading to do while stuck indoors.
I have a triple-sectioned post for you this week. I haven’t done a pull list in a while, so let’s start with that. Then I’m going to talk about something else for a little bit, and then I’m going to do some reviews. But first, I just wanted to say this: thanks for reading. You, right there, staring at your monitor. Thank you for taking the time to click into this blog and follow my bizarre little posts every week. It’s nice to know people are continually reading this week after week, so despite my crippling self-doubt, I guess I must be doing something right. You all make my heart all warm and fuzzy inside, and when I close my eyes, I see rainbows and unicorns…
Uh … I mean. Yeah, whatever. Cool. Thanks for the hits.
… PULL LIST!
Action Comics #3 – I haven’t gotten to issue two of this yet. Falling behind….
Animal Man #3 – See above. Sadness.
Swamp Thing #3 – Funny enough, I did read issue two, and as much as I was all over issue one, the story’s feeling a bit lackluster now. I still dig Yanick Paquette and Scott Snyder like nobody’s business—it’s not necessarily the creators’ fault—I think it’s just that maybe I’m not as into Swamp Thing as I thought I could be. Eehhhh … I don’t know. Should I stick around? Convince me.
Infinite Vacation #3 – WWWWHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAA???!! Is this … do my eyes deceive me? Is this REALLY, FINALLY out?! Do I want to support this book after its RIDICULOUS lateness? Tell you what, issue three—I’ll give you a go. But this is your last chance. Get your act together, or you’re off the list for good.
Fear Itself #7.1 – I don’t … what? I don’t understand what’s happening anymore. WHAT is with all of this “point one” garbage? What is this all about? Why is this still going on? Geez. I genuinely do not understand the thinking behind this wacko numbering. Why is it not Fear Itself #8? Why are we … God. Also—and I almost can’t bear to address it, but I’m going to—there’s a new title spinning out of Fear Itself. Want to know what it is? … Are you sure? Be warned, this is one gigantic SPOILER.
Fear Itself Fearless #2 – Wait, hang on. Why is this on my pull list? I don’t know what this is.
Mystic #4 – Awww, Mystic. I’m gonna miss you. I’m glad I get to look forward to you this week. Thank you for giving me some fun and some magic in a pull list that’s otherwise mostly full of failure.
Shame Itself #1 – So I read the page previews of this on CBR and laughed so hard at the re-cap page. This is definitely coming home with me. Glad to see Marvel poking some fun at themselves.
Uncanny X-Men #1 – Still haven’t finished reading Schism yet. Should I even bother? It’s gotten some fairly bad reviews and I’m SO BEHIND.
Villains for Hire Point One #1 – I’ll be picking this up because I’ve been enjoying the Heroes for Hire book lately, but … *stares at title* … I just … I give up.
X-23 #16 – Hooray! This should be good. Marjorie Liu doesn’t let me down and Phil Noto makes me happy because his stuff’s consistently out of this world. X-23 FTW. We end on a high.
A NEW 52 MINI EXPERIMENT
I have a nephew named Alex. He was the cutest thing when he was a tiny little kid—he was like my little buddy and I would take him to the comic shop and buy him comics and packages of Airheads taffy. Naturally, this made me his favorite aunt, a title I still proudly hold. He hated reading, but giving him comics was a great way of tricking him into doing so and making it fun. He loved the Marvel heroes, and on the weekends that he stayed over, we would watch the animated Spider-Man or X-Men shows and bond in this fun little geek world of comics characters.
That nephew is now an angsty teenager, and having long fallen away from comics (there are no comic shops near where he lives), is more interested in girls, basketball, and his PS3 these days. So when his birthday rolled around this past month, I decided I would try a little experiment. I thought there would be no better time to bring him back into the comics fold than now. And my weapon of choice? None other than the New 52.
I was banking on buying him a handful of new titles that I thought he’d like, and went into the comic shop looking for specific books. Unfortunately, we ran out of a number of titles, and since I had put off buying him this stuff until the absolute last minute, I didn’t have the luxury of waiting for re-prints. So I made do with what I found, which was the following: Aquaman #1 (a good, easy read); Detective Comics #1 (dark and violent, right up any teenage boy’s alley); and Justice League #1 (a no-brainer). Since I also had already bought other gifts for him too, I couldn’t afford to pick up too many books. I thought the new Superboy might be a hit for him as well as he loved the Smallville TV series, but the store had sold out. What else would a kid his age like? Blackhawks? No copies left. Red Hood & the Outlaws? Hahaahaa, yeah, NO. I went over to the Marvel shelves instead and picked up Captain America #1. He loved the Cap movie; I was hoping this would get equally good results. Plus, it would provide for some publisher comparison.
He got the issues on his birthday and seemed interested. I didn’t give him any background information. I didn’t tell him about the relaunch; didn’t explain that everything was starting over. I just told him to read.
A couple of weeks later, it was time for follow-up. I texted him and asked if he’d read any of the titles. Response was positive.
I told him to read the last book, Captain America, and that I’d call him to talk about it. When all the issues were read, we had a conversation. He told me that he’d really loved “the Batman one” and that he was dying to see what happened next (the infamous Joker cliffhanger). Aquaman was funny—he liked it, but it confused him a little. I explained some of the inside jokes, and told him that Aquaman had a pretty pathetic reputation—which made him laugh more, and the new understanding added to his enjoyment of the book. Lastly there was Justice League … he was hesitant about this one, but couldn’t explain his confusion or what was off about it. And that’s when I told him about the reboot.
“The Justice League has never met each other prior to this,” I explained.
“Huh?” He had seen the Justice League together before. He’d seen the comics. He knew that Batman and Superman were friends.
“They’re starting everything all over again. This is all brand new. Forget about what you read before—it didn’t happen. They’re starting all over again,” I said.
“WHAT?!? WHY?” Even as someone who hadn’t read a comic in years, he was dumbfounded by the concept.
“To get to YOU!” I answered.
The discussion that followed was pretty interesting. I tried, as rationally and objectively as possible, to explain the theory behind the New 52, and confessed that I had essentially used him as my guinea pig—which didn’t seem to bother him (he got free comics out of the deal, after all). As Marvel had not done anything different to their line of books, I asked him what he thought of Captain America in comparison. He said that he enjoyed it, but he didn’t understand it as much as the other books. Peggy’s funeral in the beginning; Sharon Carter, Baron Zemo—these were characters he didn’t know, and after reading the first issue, he still felt like he was missing a lot. He liked it, but was less inclined to pick up future issues than he was with the DC books.
Kind of fascinating, huh?
The real question now is to see whether or not he enjoyed this enough to go out and buy future issues on his own. But if the choice comes down to a slew of number two books or a copy of Arkham City on the PS3 … well. I’m pretty sure he’s about halfway through the game already.
Experiment status: I’m cataloguing this one a tentative failure.
You’ll recall that I was pretty annoyed a couple of weeks ago by the spoilery story announcement that Diana is apparently a daughter of Zeus. My level of geek rage had spiked pretty high at that little nugget, and I really wasn’t sure how wise it was going to be for me to continue to follow Azzarello’s run on this book. I think, though, that this is just another instance of media and solicitations ruining what may otherwise prove to be a very decent story. When I picked up issue two, fully knowing the reveal that would come, I assumed I would hate everything else about the story as well.
But I didn’t.
Much as it bruises me to admit, this was still a damn great issue, and Azzarello is still weaving a damn good story, despite my reservations. And had DC allowed me to find out the big news as I were reading the issue rather than spoil it for me beforehand out of context, I might have actually been okay.
You could have spared me the rage, guys. My blood pressure—she’s not so good.
Kidding, of course. In all seriousness, the in-story reveal was a million times better than DC’s press attempts for shock and awe, and I’m slowly trying to have a bit more faith in the writer here. He did an excellent job of setting things up before dropping the proverbial bomb at the end of the issue, and it was done in a way that felt organic as opposed to contrived. He even made sure to address the “born of clay” origin, rather than ignoring it and wiping it away completely, as I’d feared would be the case. Given that this is the essence of her character and her story, it’s kind of a big deal.
Wonder Woman fans have, over the years, built up a reputation for being … let’s call it “high-strung.” We’re overly picky. Some of us are traditionalists. All of us demand perfection, and we may take it to extremes. But when you’ve watched a character you love get the short end of the stick over and over and over again; when you’ve watched writers mistreat her, misunderstand her, and/or flat out despise her; when this incredible character, this one-third of the all-mighty “Trinity” gets her panel time cut down in favor of the freaking Green Lantern, you tend to get a little overprotective. We’re fed up.
I think—I hope—Azzarello gets that. And I think—I hope—he’s righting the ship. I’m still on for the ride to wherever he’s steering it.
Also, one more thing—Hippolyta is so totally awesome no matter her hair color.
Also, one more more thing—Cliff Chiang rocks my world.
Was soooooooooooo not going to read this book. I generally don’t care for magic-using characters of any kind, and it’s a point of contention between Fiancé and I. If I’m playing a video game and I can make my own character, I’m going for the badass warrior with weapons galore and insane melee skills—you know, get all up in the action. Fiancé, on the other hand, prefers to don some cheap cloth robe and fire-bomb the heck out of people from a very safe distance.
Opposites attract, I guess.
That said, the idea of a book centering heavily around the use of magic and magical characters didn’t exactly pull me in. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t know who half of these people where. Shade, what? Who’s that? It’s safe to say I’ve never read a single issue of anything bearing John Constantine’s name. Heck, even Zatanna—a character who I bet you’d think I’d be all about—doesn’t draw me in. I tolerate Zatanna, but I’m not a Zatanna fan.
Not yet. With Justice League Dark now on my pull list, I can see this changing very soon.
I wish I could put my finger on just what it is that’s making this book so special to me, but I’m honestly not sure I know. It isn’t one particular thing—it really isn’t blowing my mind in one area. It’s just a combination of things, the ingredients of a comic book that are all done well and come together to give you something worth your appreciation. And it’s all enveloped in this ominous, foreboding overtone that’s just enough to entice and not enough to overbear.
Issue #2 continues to bring together our cast of characters in the lead up to a presumable face-off against the Enchantress; we get a striking introduction to John Constantine, and Milligan brings in Dove and Deadman to aid June Moon from last issue. The title so far has worked almost in a series of vignettes with each character, but it’s interesting because none of them are all that self-contained. Each character piece is weaved into the overall story, and with Madame Xanadu overlooking everyone and pulling the strings, there are some very intriguing elements indeed.
Mikel Janin on art further sets this book apart from the pack. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of his other work, and he has this painted style that’s just lovely. I came into this title fully intent on finding any reason to hate it, but it seems neither creator wants to let me. And that’s so, so exciting and great. The groundwork is being laid, and I can’t wait to see the storm that’s coming ahead. This book is worth a shot.
With this incarnation of Ultimate Spider-Man, Marvel has me subscribed to a Spider-Man title for the first time in my life. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.
There’s a lot to be said for Miles Morales, but I’m certain you’ve already heard it all. In the media storm that ensued following Marvel’s announcement they were killing off Ultimate Peter Parker and putting someone new under the mask, further fueled by Miles’ big reveal, there’s nothing the internets hasn’t already addressed. I have nothing new to add to the conversation; I just want to say that I think this is absolutely awesome, amazing, wonderful, inspiring, and YES, MARVEL—YOU DONE GOOD!
Now, about this issue. I loved the heck out of it. Issue one was good. Issue two was better. Issue three? Still kicking it up, and it is so damn fun to watch all of this … newness … unfold. HEY, DC—THIS IS HOW YOU DO “NEW.”
I … I want to summarize the issue, but I also don’t want to spoil it. In short, Miles is learning more about his new powers. He’s also getting braver and putting them to the test in some very risky situations. He’s also starting his new school and making new friends (or potential villains, I wonder?). It all ends on a big cliffhanger that is just so well done structurally that … well. Good job, Mr. Bendis. I know I like to rag on you from time to time, but I have to tip my hat and give credit where credit is due. You get a gold star.
Also, HOLY COW, SARA PICHELLI. Is this woman freaking amazing or what? I thought her stuff was good before, but I feel like I am actually witnessing her skills grow. Woman is on fire. I absolutely cannot see anyone else drawing this book now. I hope the Bendis/Pichelli run is a very, very long one. I hope it’s on par with Bendis/Bagley, because I’m not sure I could bear to see this book under anyone else’s care. Absolutely wonderful. I can’t stress it enough.
GO BUY ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN RIGHT NOW.
Okay, I think that’s enough. Hopefully the super long length of this post has made up for my lack of posting the last couple of weeks. Either that, or I just bored you to death and drove you further away. Time to imagine that unicorn again.
Have a great weekend, gang.
…at least where Wonder Woman is concerned.
Why hello there, comic shop peeps! If you’ve been trying to reach me via e-mail and I haven’t replied, please know that I’m not intentionally ignoring you (unless your name is Dario*)—rather, my e-mail has not been working lately. And by “not working,” I mean “forgot my password.” Don’t ask me how I managed to do that, but I did, and thus haven’t been able to log in for about three weeks or more now. EDIT: fixed!
I am staggeringly behind on my comics reading and haven’t picked up any new stuff in two weeks, so I ask your forgiveness for the lack of reviews. In the meantime, some notes/commentary:
- As the final cover and variant cover for Justice League #1 come out, the great pants/no pants debate rages on, and it’s absurdly amusing if not very depressing. For the record? I’m pretty thrilled to see the pants gone (although that David Finch cover makes me want to cry). DCWKA has a pretty great post that rather nicely sums up most of my own feelings on the topic of female character uniforms.
- Oh. I finally saw the nixed David E. Kelley Wonder Woman pilot. To say that it’s one of the worst things I’ve ever watched would be paying it a compliment. Thank goodness this thing didn’t get picked up. As I sat there twitching and staring at the television in disbelief, Boyfriend fearfully turned to me at one point and said, “I can actually feel the rage coming off of you right now.”
- Because I am completely obsessed with comics to the point I spend my … um … “lunch break” (heh heh) reading about comics news on the internet, I just saw that The Source has a first look at Henry Cavill as Superman in the upcoming new movie. It looks very good, wouldn’t you agree? And as the article mentions, Laurence Fishburne now has the role of Perry White. Are we following in the footsteps of a Samuel L. Jackson Nick Fury? Not a bad decision, if you ask me.
- Another thing that’s not a bad decision is Marvel’s reveal of who the new Ultimate Spider-Man is. SPOILERS here and here. The character’s debut issue hit the stands on Wednesday in Ultimate Fallout #4, so snag a copy while you can.
- The first issue of Terry Moore’s new book, Rachel Rising, also came out this week. Is anyone checking this out? Because you should. Terry Moore is legit amazing—I would hate for his awesomeness to be eclipsed by the latest Marvel and DC hype. Really looking forward to getting my hands on this.
- Speaking of amazing—oh my goodness, Craig Thompson. I love him. His new book, Habibi, is coming out in just a few short weeks, and the previews I’ve seen are unbelievably gorgeous. It makes me feel better to know I’ll have something to look forward to in September when the “New 52” inevitably lets me down. Also, Mr. Thompson is doing a signing at the Brattle Theater in Harvard Square the day after the book comes out, so if you’re in the area, let me know because I will most certainly be there. PSYCHED, PSYCHED, PSYCHED!
- Saw Captain America the other week. It was awesome. Avengers trailer after the credits brought out my squealing fangirl. ‘Nuff said.
Okay, that’s all I got! It’s gonna be a three-day weekend for me, so I’ll catch you punks later! Happy comic reading!
*Just kidding, Dario, you know I love you!
Well now. This is how it’s done, isn’t it?
My expectations were high for the launch of this title, and the reasons are palpable. Ed Brubaker writing? Check. Steve McNiven on art? Oh yes, that’s a big check. A Steve Rogers, Sharon Carter, Nick Fury, and Dum Dum Dugan cast? Here’s my $3.99, guys—sign me the heck up.
I became a Cap fan from reading various Avengers books over the years, but it wasn’t until very recently that I actually began to pay attention to his solo title(s). The praise drummed up for Brubaker’s take on Steve and Bucky got me to give his stuff a look, and from what I’ve read so far, I can confidently say that praise is well-deserved. So I went into this new first issue expecting Brubaker to deliver, and deliver he did.
If you’re reading Fear Itself, or even if you’re not, you likely know by now that my sweet Bucky Barnes is dead (again). The setup has, I’m told, been long coming for Cap to take up the shield once again, and here we have that promise fulfilled. The book begins, sadly, with a funeral—Peggy Carter’s, specifically—in an opening scene that is both poignant and purposeful. We’re introduced to the cast, given a brief insight into the man that Steve Rogers is, and then kicked off into an action sequence that, I have to say, is delivered frigging beautifully by McNiven. Can that man draw the heck out of a comic, or what? The layouts are so clear; his lines are clean, and everything just looks fantastic while functioning superbly. You’re certainly never left looking at a panel and wondering what’s happening. I fell in love with McNiven’s work with his Civil War stuff, and I’m falling harder now.
But back to the writing. To start off the first arc, Cap and his team find themselves facing a once-friend, now-enemy from his WWII days. Brubaker impresses me pretty effortlessly here. He doesn’t try too hard and he’s never too in-your-face with things. Characterization comes across subtly and naturally, and the setting flows from one scene to another bridged through flashbacks in time. The issue ends with the expected cliffhanger—I say “expected,” but that doesn’t make it any less effective. In fact, I’m even more excited to read on.
Marvel, obviously, are capitalizing on the newly-released Captain America movie and using it as a way to give new readers a place to start. I’m shocked to say they’re actually doing it right by writing Cap as he’s meant to be written and not dumbing things down for new fans. Captain America #1 is precisely what I want from a comic, and so long as this creative teams sticks around, I anticipate fans will, too.
I tend to pick up Avengers books here and there, depending on story arc and previews that grab me. Bendis as a writer is very hit-and-miss for me. I generally like most of his ideas and character development, but sometimes he’ll do something that will totally stick me the wrong way (treatment of Tigra; last-minute ditch of Spider-Woman title; gag-inducing self promotion in his books), and the stereotype that he writes every character’s dialogue the same is mostly true. Don’t get me wrong—sometimes he is just a master at light-heartedness and at getting down to who a character is through dialogue—but a lot of the time, yes, they do all quip like Spider-Man.
Those pet peeves aside, he can still spin a good yarn. Particularly when you compare his stuff to some of the other junk that saturates the Marvel shelves. But I digress. Let’s talk about New Avengers #14.
Reading the Avengers off and on as I do can get understandably confusing as I attempt to fill in the gaps of things I’ve missed. What led me to snag this issue was actually a preview page online of Mockingbird talking at the “camera.” Apparently, in the last arc, Mockingbird was gravely injured, and in an attempt to save her life, some sort of amalgam of Super Soldier Serum was administered to her. This summary of backstory is part of why I loved this issue. Instead of reading some dry re-cap page, I got everything I needed to know in-story, directly from the character herself. We’ve seen these pages a lot recently in Avengers—simple, square panel, face-forward shots of characters speaking straight to the audience—and it’s a technique that works spectacularly well. It’s simple, effective, and refreshing. Chris Bachalo and JR Jr. have both tried their hand at this style of storytelling for Bendis, and in this issue of New Avengers, Mike Deodato gets his turn.
He does a great job, in my opinion. I loved Deodato’s work to kick off the Secret Avengers title, but soon got sick of the constant shadows and darkness and what became a blatantly obvious laziness. The stuff he does here, though, looks infinitely better—partly because, yeah, he does actually draw their faces for a change—and it feels like he’s trying harder. There’s more going on, and I largely enjoyed it.
Mockingbird is indeed the spotlight of this issue, and I’m glad of it. It feels like Bendis is giving her character some real credit, and he ties the story into Fear Itself without actually making it a Fear Itself tie-in … if that makes any sense. The whole Sin/hammers/destruction stuff is still there, sure, but this issue is about the Avengers and about Mockingbird specifically. In this event-crazy medium, it’s kind of nice to have that split. Let’s keep it going.
This book just isn’t doing anything for me right now. Like, at all. And I’m not sure if that’s because of the writing (which isn’t necessarily HORRIBLE, given some of the truly terrible stuff out there), or because the first story arc as a whole, which I like to call “Super Blasty Magic Battle,” didn’t interest me at all. I honestly just don’t care enough about the Sorcerer Supreme or any of that stuff to be able to get into this—which is why I’m going to give it another go with the next arc before I ultimately dub it shelf fodder.
Ergo, I want to say that the problem so far lies with me and not the story … but then again, isn’t it the mark of a good or great writer that he or she can MAKE you care about something you didn’t before? I have something of a pastime of ragging on Brian Michael Bendis, and I’m honestly not trying to—it’s just that my feelings toward him are currently lukewarm, and … well … what’s he done for me lately? Outside of maybe Scarlet, the answer is: not much. I’m sure this has been addressed elsewhere in comicdom on the interweb, but the fact of the matter is—and this is a real turn off for me—that the Avengers mostly all sound the same. I really can’t decipher The Thing from Spider-Man from Jessica Jones from Ms. Marvel … because they ALL sound like Spider-Man (who is essentially useless here, by the way). I didn’t know Ms. Marvel could quip like that.
Stuart Immonen, I want to say, does some pretty cool stuff, but the most recent issue that wrapped up the first story arc was kind of a “miss” as far as the big battle scene went. Half the time I couldn’t tell what in the world was going on, and the other half of the time, I didn’t care. He didn’t make me care. He didn’t really hit me with anything at all aside from a few dramatic facial expressions and a panel of Dr. Strange with a lone tear in the corner of his eye (which comes across as cliché rather than emotional). That’s all kind of pathetic, given that a character dies in this issue. And who are we kidding with that? Look at the cover and I promise you, you’ll know who it is. Maybe my dissatisfaction toward this issue in particular had something to do with the fact that I was reading it on the commuter rail far too early in the a.m., but come on—the death scene at least SHOULD have hit me. It should have been epic, but instead it floundered.
I do want to say, despite whatever I felt was “off” about the last issue, there is a definite light-hearted quality to this book overall, which I think is what keeps readers coming back to it. It’s not heavy. Despite fighting a universe-threatening power, the team still manages to make you laugh. Victoria Hand still manages to walk around toting a fraking huge gun and cracking me up. One can argue that, whatever the book’s faults, it’s still good, clean Avengers, so to speak. And maybe in the end, given all of the other Avengers titles to choose from—that’s all this one has to be.
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Illustrated by Stuart Immonen
X-posted @ Nerd Caliber