Posts tagged “Captain America

Post-Turkey Day Reviews

Hello.  Have we all recovered from our food comas yet?  I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  It’s tough being back to work after four lovely days off, but such, I suppose, is life.  At least there is always the promise of Wednesday and new comics.

 

Princeless #2Princeless #2
Written by Jeremy Whitley
Illustrated by M. Goodwin
Publisher:  Action Lab Entertainment
Price:  $3.99

 

So … are you reading Princeless yet?  Was my earlier review of issue #1 not convincing enough?  Because I’m going to hound you all relentlessly until I get some messages saying “Yay, you’re so right, Princeless is awesome!”

Oh, issue #2—you were everything for which I’d hoped.  Princess Adrienne’s story is continued, but this time around the narrative voice is shifted in the beginning from being Adrienne’s to that of her brother, Prince Devin.  When their belligerent father, the King, is misinformed that Princess Adrienne is dead (having fled the tower atop her dragon at the end of the last issue), Devin is devastated by what’s happened to his sister and the thought that he may have had a hand in her death.  Ooohhh, yeah—weren’t expecting that, were you?  You’ll just have to read the issue to learn what I mean.  There’s a lot more that happens here, but I can’t tell you about it without an insane amount of gushing.

Jeremy Whitley’s writing keeps its momentum from issue one, and the hilarity doesn’t stop either.  A couple of scenes in particular had me laughing out loud as I read this on one of my train commutes, and the ending left me disappointed in the sense that I was sad there had to be one at all.  Two issues in, and I feel like I’ve known these characters for a while.  They’re well-developed, well-rounded, and well-illustrated.  Wonderful, wonderful comics being made.

This book is just a blast, and I’m so happy I found it.  In a week where DC didn’t release any of their New 52, it’s a perfect opportunity to check out something else and breathe a breath of fresh air instead of the same old constant disappointment.

Please read this book, and please pass it along.  I absolutely cannot fathom that you’d regret it.

 

Captain America & Bucky #624Captain America & Bucky #624
Written by Ed Brubaker & Marc Andreyko
Illustrated by Chris Samnee
Publisher:  Marvel Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

Hmm.  What can I say about this one?  I’m kind of stupid about Bucky and Natasha.  They’ve only been a relatively recent discovery for me and I really, really love the pair … my reasons are myriad.  So whenever I see the promise of some Bucky and Natasha team-up, I’m all on it.  But this was a little bit of a letdown.

The issue started off very well.  The story is set in the early days of the Winter Soldier, and Brubaker and Andreyko use it to delve into some of Bucky’s past conditioning.  We get peaks of his early missions and the formation of his romance with Black Widow, and all is well.  We also see Bucky begin to defy his programming—the writing is strong, and I have to shout out to Chris Samnee, who really draws some excellent stuff.  His style is wonderfully suited to the “throw back” feel of the book, giving it a unique flavor that’s separate from that of the main Captain America title.

I began this by telling you that the issue was a letdown.  Then I told you the writing is good and the art is great, so obviously I’m not making much sense here, right?

I guess I can’t quite put my finger on what’s missing.  I think the problem is that I’m sitting here reading this issue, things are moving, I’m getting really into what’s happening, and then … it’s over.  It just sort of … ends, and not in a “to be continued next issue” way.  At first I wondered if my copy was missing some pages or something—that’s how confused I was.  I even went online and read some web reviews, but the three reviews I read all loved the issue and said nothing much further.  I’m thinking I’m the only one who was left with this hanging feeling.  If the book were an electronic device, could we chalk this up to “user error”?  Did I somehow read the book wrong?

Despite my confusion, I can tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed what I read, and if you’re a Bucky fan or a Black Widow fan, it’s worth the pickup.  Past that, I’m still trying to figure it out, but if the writing here is any indication of Brubaker’s new upcoming Winter Soldier title, I’ll definitely be picking that up.

 

Wolverine & the X-Men #2Wolverine & the X-Men #2
Written by Jason Aaron
Illustrated by Chris Bachalo
Publisher:  Marvel Comics
Price:  $3.99

 

I had some qualms about this title and the team split that resulted from Schism, but since the X-Men are essentially what got me into comics in the first place, I always tend to follow at least one or two of their books.  I read through the Schism event, and while I wasn’t impressed with it to start, the latter issues picked up the pace and I found myself a little more invested in the central argument of what was happening—should the X-kids be mutantkind’s soldiers, per Cyclops, or should they be children and students, per Wolverine?  You can see the pull for both sides, and the depiction of that gray area is what makes this so interesting.

So as much as I dislike the title of this and the emphasis that’s continually placed on Wolverine, the lure of most of my favorite characters siding with him as well as the promise of Chris Bachalo’s artwork convinced me to pick it up.

I’m not disappointed.  The first issue was a lot of fun, centering on Wolverine and Kitty trying to prep the newly-built Jean Grey School for opening day—and Jason Aaron’s writing was strong.  It continues to be so with issue #2, which is full of action.  Usually when an issue of a comic is nonstop action, I actually get kind of bored, because my favorite thing about comics is character interaction.  I like dialogue, I like getting in characters’ heads, I like seeing them play off of one another.  You know when Bendis writes pages and pages of Avengers where the characters are just talking and talking and talking?  A lot of people seem to hate that, but I love the stuff.  It’s vastly more interesting to me than watching the X-Men battle a giant monster for 24 pages straight.  If they aren’t saying things to one another—if I’m not learning anything about anyone by watching them fight, then for me, that “action” is boring.

Lucky enough, this seems to be where Jason Aaron shines.  The majority, if not the entirety, of issue two was the X-Men in a fight, and I was not disinterested once.  Aaron seems to have struck the perfect balance between action and character development.  We have an opening scene where Iceman unleashes his oft-discussed “potential” against the bad guys; there are shots of the X-kids holding their own while conversation and even romance brews.  There are great things here.

That said, it’s definitely not my perfect book.  For one thing, I really dislike the villains—not in the “oh man, these guys are so evil” kind of way, but more in the “wow, these guys are so lame” kind of way.  A group of rich, genius evil children taking over the Hellfire Club doesn’t do it for me.  I just have trouble buying it, and that’s all on Aaron.  His setup for them in Schism felt hackneyed and contrived, and I have no feelings invested in the group whatsoever.  I can’t connect, and really at this point, I just want the X-Men to defeat them and get it over with so they can move on to their next set of villains.

Despite that, I’m definitely enjoying this new title so far, and I’m optimistic that we can look forward to it being consistently good story-wise.  However…

In my last review of the Captain America, I complained that Steve McNiven was the artist on the book for only six issues.  Well, Bachalo’s got him beat, because he’ll be off of this after issue #3, with Nick Bradshaw taking over.  I cannot tell you how much this pains/saddens/infuriates me, and it’s taking a high degree of restraint not to fill this paragraph with cuss words.  While it isn’t a HUGE surprise that Bachalo’s tenure here is brief—I can’t remember the last time he actually stayed on a book past a few issues—it’s still a huge tease to be reeled in like this, only to have half the creative team change within three issues.  This is NOT the way to launch a new title, Marvel, and the habit is becoming unbearable.  And for goodness’ sake, this book is four bucks.  FOUR BUCKS!  Argh!  Infuriating.  Depending on how Bradshaw’s art is, this title may or may not be on a short leash for me.  Let’s give it a few more and then re-evaluate.

 

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Turkey Day Reviews

Captain America #4Captain America #4
Written by Ed Brubaker
Illustrated by Steve McNiven
Publisher:  Marvel Comics
Price:  $3.99

 

Awwww, Marvel.  Why?

I started picking up this series because I adore Steve Rogers as a character, and I’d heard such great things about Brubaker’s writing of Cap.  When I read that McNiven was doing the pencils, I jumped all over this like the obsessor that I am.  I looooooooovvvvveee McNiven’s stuff, and to me, him and Cap are a match made in heaven.  This book made me so happy.

I speak in the past tense, because apparently McNiven is no longer on this title as of issue #7.  His replacement?  Alan Davis.

I don’t know if this is a permanent change or if Davis is filling in for a couple of arcs; the solicitations aren’t clear, and the switch doesn’t appear to be addressed in detail anywhere.  I couldn’t give less of a fig for Alan Davis.  I have nothing against him personally and I’m sure he’s a gentleman; it’s just that his art does absolutely nothing for me.  At ALL.  I simply dislike his style, and that’s really gonna kill this book for me.  It’s a shame, because I’ve really enjoyed the four issues to date.

Don’t be fooled by the odd cover (Marvel seems especially preoccupied with phallic concepts lately); what lies beneath the title page here is good stuff.  Brubaker pairs together past and future in a seamless and engaging way, introducing old characters and new to propel the story forward and keep the engine humming.  What makes me particularly happy with Brubaker is his track record in writing female characters—basically, he knows how to.  You might laugh at that, but let’s take a look at his record—Selina Kyle, Black Widow, now Sharon Carter—it is, sadly, shockingly rare to write a string like that without some blunders along the way, but the man does it seemingly effortlessly.  Yes, I’m in love with his Cap, but watching Sharon Carter spar with Baron Zemo and lay an eloquent dropkick on the guy is, let’s face it, pretty damn awesome.  And having McNiven illustrate that wonderfully-constructed scene?  Icing on the ass-kicking cake, my friends.

I’m not sure how long I’m going to stick around once Alan Davis comes aboard this book.  A part of me wants to drop it out of principle alone; it feels like Marvel can never get their act together as far as keeping creative teams on titles for any longer than a story arc at a time, and that’s bothersome.  Things shouldn’t be that difficult, and as a consumer, I’m looking for consistency.  There are some exceptions—no matter how late Avengers: Children’s Crusade is, I will always buy it, and no matter how many artists come and go on Journey into Mystery, Kieron Gillen will always have my dollar—but this should remain the exception and not the rule.  I wouldn’t want to be accused of enabling.

We’ll see where Cap lands in a couple of months’ time.  Maybe Davis will be off before I know it, replaced with someone else’s work to lure me in against my will, but in order for me to continue buying Captain America at four bucks a pop, I’m gonna need both pieces and I demand better.

 

Birds of Prey #3Birds of Prey #3
Written by Duane Swierczynski
Illustrated by Jesus Saiz
Publisher:  DC Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

Oohhh … ouch.  My pride.  God. I’m so ashamed and my pride is so sore, because … because … I am LOVING THIS BOOK!
 
There—I said it.  And I KNOW what you’re thinking … and I’m so ashamed.  *Hangs head to the floor*

I just … it’s … it’s actually really good.  I read the first issue and I was all begrudging about it, and then I read the second issue and I was like oh … uh oh … maybe this could go somewhere, but NO!  I’M NEVER GONNA ADMIT IT!  And then I read the third issue and … and … oh, Swierczynski’s won me over completely and now I’m scum.  *Sobbing*

What convinced me to keep reading were the rumors that Barbara Gordon would wind up on the team.  If you read my bitter condemnation review of issue one, a huge reason why I decried this book was because the relationship between Dinah and Babs was seemingly being downplayed/ignored/retconned.  But then I kept hearing such positive reviews of the title from critics whose opinions I respect, and all might not be as it seems within the next few issues.  So I read #2 and #3, and … here I am, eating my words.  Mr. Swierczynski, I owe you apology.  Your book just kicked me in the face, and it feels so good.

And wow, Jesus Saiz … I can’t compliment him enough.  His artwork is so skilled and GORGEOUS.  It’s so wonderful and clear and … you know, there’s a scene in this issue with an explosion and Black Canary, Starling, Katana, and Poison Ivy are flung through the air from the force of it.  And—can you believe—not a single contorted spine, not a single sleazy upskirt or shot of cleavage, not a single broken back.  I … I didn’t know comics like this could actually exist!  I LOVE YOU, JESUS SAIZ!  Never, ever change!

So I humbly retract my earlier assessment of this title.  It’s not quite the Birds of Prey I once knew and hoped for; it’s not the team I fell in love with.  But I’m having an easier time now taking THIS team of Birds for what they are, and it’s legitimately good, enjoyable, and fun to read.  With each issue, I’m learning to drop my preconceived notions and favoritism.  No lie, it’s been tough.  I’m all set in my comics ways and stuff, you know?  But for at least the next few issues, I’m on board with this book.  Please, please don’t let me down, Swierczynski.

 

Supergirl #3Supergirl #3
Written by Michael Green & Mike Johnson
Illustrated by Mahmud Asrar
Publisher:  DC Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

Hello, Supergirl—it’s nice to finally meet you.

The Super family of books have always been tough sales for me.  I was never one for Superman; he’s always felt flat to me, and I’d mostly steered clear of his side of the comics racks until last year when I started picking up Jeff Lemire’s Superboy (which I miss desperately).  But Powergirl has never lured me, and Supergirl’s (re-)introduction in the Superman/Batman book a few years ago flew right over my head.  For whatever reason, I just never cared enough to give Kara much of a chance.  With the New 52, I decided I’d change that.

So I picked up the first two issues of this title, and for the most part, I really enjoyed them.  A large reason for that is in thanks to the artwork—Mahmud Asrar is, if I may say, pretty incredible.  I don’t think I’ve seen any of his work prior to this, but his soft, watercolory style is a pleasure that leaves my eyes wanting more at the end of every issue.  It’s fluid and beautiful, and I can’t get enough.

Story-wise, this book is conflicting.  On the one hand, I want to say that I’ve enjoyed each read in the moment I’m reading it; on the other hand, I take a step back to think about it and the three issues to date have been extraordinarily decompressed.  I feel like “decompressed” is a word everyone likes to toss around in the comics world these days, so I generally try to avoid it, but it’s very true here.  The first two issues of this title were about Kara crash landing to Earth, being confused, and fighting Superman.  TWO ENTIRE ISSUES of that!  Don’t you think that could have all been accomplished in just one issue?  How many times must we witness Kal and Kara fight and try to “figure things out”?  This aspect of the book—the redundancy and stretching out the story for no reason—bothers me.  If I were a diehard Supergirl fan, I’d be extremely annoyed, because what’s happening to Kara mirrors what’s happening to Barbara over in Batgirl—which is more of the same.  A seemingly unoriginal take.

Despite these criticisms, though, this title is still okay with me overall.  I’m still reading.  Why?  Because I am a new reader of Supergirl, and although I know this story has happened before, I’ve never previously read it myself.  As an experience, it’s still new to me.  I’m finally getting to know a version of Supergirl, and it’s admittedly kind of exciting.  I really want to like her.

So issue three opens up with some backstory regarding Krypton, and we’re finally introduced to a villain for Kara to face on Earth.  I want to say this villain is a bit generic, but Green and Johnson have already managed to make me hate his guts in the span of one issue, so I guess that’s successful.  While we sputter a bit here thanks to that D-word, I’m cautiously optimistic that things will pick up after the first arc.  Green and Johnson always come across well in interviews, expressing enthusiasm for Kara and it sounds like they have some great ideas for this title.  It’s their chance to make her shine, and it’s my chance to let them.  I want to like this—I am liking this, mostly—and I’m hopeful that it only goes upward from here.

 

Until next week, everyone—be safe, and eat lots of turkey!

Happy Thanksgiving


Pants: Never a Good Decision

…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.
    Rachel Rising #1
  • 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!


Reviews: Captain America #1, New Avengers #14

Captain America #1Captain America #1
Published by Marvel Comics
Written by Ed Brubaker
Illustrated by Steve McNiven
Price:  $3.99

 

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.

New Avengers #14New Avengers #14
Published by Marvel Comics
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Illustrated by Mike Deodato
Price:  $3.99

 

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.New Avengers #14, Page 3

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.

 


Blurb Reviews!

I asked a few different people at the comic shop this week what they thought of Fear Itself #2.  The common response was “I don’t know.  Hammers?”

 

Birds of Prey #12Birds of Prey #12 – Gail Simone continues to effortlessly impress me, as this latest issue of Birds of Prey finds the ladies come face-to-face with a villain from Simone’s Secret Six.  I always love when a writer cross-references work from other titles to provide a sense of continuity, assuming it’s done well, and Simone has no problem incorporating one of her own creations here.  I’m eager to see how the Birds will handle the threat—after all, this group is far from being anything like the Six, and it’s a pretty ridiculous villain we’re talking about.  A few refreshing elements to this issue:  Zinda taking a more upfront role in the team’s current mission; Helena attempting to recruit and subsequently teaming up with The Question; and Hawk & Dove in the backseat of the story so far—the less of them, the better as far as I’m concerned.  I like this book to concentrate on its core members—Babs, Dinah, Helena, and Zinda.  Spotlight guests are welcome, but let’s keep them that way.  When it’s just those four, the story seems to flow better, the quips come easier, and the tone throws it back to the good old days of the Birds book.  Jesus Saiz comes on board for art duties here—I feel like I haven’t seen enough to really judge if I like him or not, but his stuff IS good.  I’m not sure why Birds of Prey has been given the finger as far as not having a steady artist—a book as stellar as this month after month should have some priority and artistic consistency—but hopefully things change now with Saiz in the hot seat.

 

Batgirl #21 – As much as I love Birds of Prey, these days I think I’m neverBatgirl #21 happier than when I’m reading Batgirl.  I love this book SO MUCH.  I love Stephanie Brown, I love Bryan Q. Miller’s writing, I love the unapologetic humor, the fantastic artwork by Dustin Nguyen, the overall happy-go-lucky, FUN tone of this book.  How I went so long before this title without Stephanie Brown in my life is a mystery to me, and the awesomeness that makes Batgirl what it is just continues to flourish with each story arc.  Issue #21 continues Stephanie’s fight against The Order of the Scythe as she engages their newest member, Harmony.  Not only does she have to deal with new foes, however; she’s also losing some allies.  With Barbara stepping away from her Oracle persona, Proxy also breaking the news that she’s heading out on her own search for self-discovery, and the Grey Goose “betraying” Steph (though unbeknownst to her and, frankly, probably welcome), they’re dropping like flies.  I love Bryan Q. Miller using the Goose’s obnoxious persona as a mirror to how Steph herself began as the arguably annoying Spoiler—it works hilariously well.  What DOESN’T work well is what I propose to be this sense of urgency Miller has tried to build up over Proxy and her decision to leave team Batgirl.  I don’t know enough about Proxy to really care or empathize; quite frankly, I’m kind of excited to see her go.  Let’s focus this back on Batgirl and let her awesomeness shine on its own.  It’s what got me into this book, and it’s what will keep me here.

 

Amazing Spider-Man #661Amazing Spider-Man #661 – I don’t read any Spider-Man titles on a regular basis; rather, I pick them up here and there when something catches my eye or sounds interesting.  I wasn’t planning on reading this issue until my ever-hilarious friend and sometimes co-worker Dario urged me to check it out.  I’m so, so glad he did, because this issue was … um, “Amazing.”  Christos Gage temporarily takes over the writing duties, and he does a damn fine job—I was laughing out loud on almost every page as Spider-Man attempted to substitute teach Hank Pym’s problem children.  Sampling the work here has made me want to check out his Avengers Academy; I’ll definitely be going back and picking up the first trade now.  You know when you get into a stretch where you just seem to pick up bad issue after bad issue after bad issue of titles, and you get to a point where you’re like “Geez, do good writers EXIST anymore, or is it all just a world of Judd Winicks and Matt Fractions”?  Then you pick up a Mike Carey or a Gail Simone and it’s THEN that you remember why you read comics in the first place.  Your faith in the medium is restored.  This is what this issue of Spider-Man was for me:  faith-renewing.  Thank you, Mr. Gage.

Captain America and the First Thirteen #1 (One-Shot) I’ve beenCaptain America and the First Thirteen #1 waiting for this one-shot for months, not realizing it had come out in March.  Woops.  Well, I guess I don’t mind the wait, because it wound up being pretty good.  The ingredients are all there—Cap, Peggy Carter, wonderful artwork, and Kathryn Immonen doing the writing?  That’s a win.  We get a backstory here set during Cap’s time with the Resistance.  It’s one of those stories that, although arguably “unessential” for our knowledge of the continuity, still adds a unique layer to the characters and their relationship that the reader may not have gotten otherwise.  There’s war, drama, strong women, humor, and smart lines left and right.  Some might call it a “throw away;” I call it an entertaining read that gets me even more excited for the upcoming Cap movie.  Ch-check it out!

 

X-Men: Legacy #248 – This is THE X-Men title to read.  The rest is toilet paper.

 

X-Men Prelude to Schism #1X-Men: Prelude to Schism #1 & 2 – Ummm … what?  What the hell is this junk?  Oh my God.  Aforementioned faith is once again destroyed.  I quit comics … (for the third time this week).  Okay, seriously—this is such an utterly pointless mini.  Issue two was a carbon copy of issue one, and neither part bothers to accomplish anything aside from attempting to illustrate Cyclops as some sort of savior to mutantkind.  I say “attempting to” because what it ACTUALLY accomplishes is just a bunch of whining.  This is two issues worth of Cyclops trying to make a decision—a decision on what, you ask?  We don’t know!  You aren’t going to be told, dear reader—and the best part is we have still another two issues left to go.  Don’t waste your time with this.  If you’re looking for a worthwhile X-book event to read, go back and pick up Mike Carey’s Age of X storyline in X-Men: Legacy.  You need Prelude to Schism the way you need syphilis.