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.
Hahaaha, oh my. This is getting worse and worse. Rob Liefeld on a new Hawk and Dove series? I just might have to buy that. The 90s are coming … I’m getting my suspenders ready!
As I try to quell my heartache over all of the DC news this week, I offer you some blurb reviews. I didn’t realize until I was finished that they’re all Marvel. There’s a chance that’ll become more often the case in the coming months.
And also, let me clarify one thing: despite what the last issue of the newsletter said, “Suicide Girls” was damn well NOT my pick of the week. You can thank my comic shop colleagues for that loving display of antagonism and embarrassment … but I suppose I had it coming. :)
The Mighty Thor #2 – I was surprised to like this book. Given my tendency to dislike Matt Fraction’s writing, my expectations for this title weren’t very high. The main factor that convinced me to pick it up is Olivier Coipel pulling art duties, and I was right to fall for it, because he shines as bright as ever. His crisp style does the same wonders for Thor here as it did during Coipel’s run with JMS not long ago, and his representation of the Silver Surfer is seriously awesome. Story-wise, it’s nothing particularly ground-breaking yet, but entertaining enough without feeling as lethargic as I usually find Fraction to be (more on that below, unfortunately). The plot involves Thor getting hurt while retrieving the World Seed, while the Silver Surfer warns earth of Galactus’ impending arrival. So far there’s a nice split of focus between Thor, Odin, Loki, and Sif (my favorite—I bet that doesn’t surprise you), and it’s just fallen into this groove of “light reading” for me. The title doesn’t seem to cross over much into Journey into Mystery so far, which is the better book of the two, but I wonder if that doesn’t have to change at some point. I’m sticking with this and drooling over Coipel’s artistic candy for now.
Fear Itself #3 – **SPOILERS**
I knew I shouldn’t be reading this. I knew I shouldn’t have bothered, but here I am, never one to resist the horror. My warm feelings for Matt Fraction don’t extend far beyond the above Mighty Thor post, readers, because—I’m sorry—this is some lazy, dumb shit we’ve got going on here. Okay—I’m going to completely avoid all the other nitpicks I have with this issue and just focus on the one big one, which is BUCKY. Poor, poor, dear old Bucky. It’s a testament to the languid storytelling here that by the end of the issue, I wasn’t even sure if he was actually dead. I had to take to the internet and get other people’s reactions in order to know for sure what was going on. Even the incredible Stuart Immonen couldn’t save this for me, and from what I’ve read, I wasn’t the only one left confused. But, yes—it’s confirmed that Bucky is very dead. Again. And I cannot for the life of me understand why they thought this would be a good idea. So Marvel wants Steve back as Cap? Okay, fine. Let’s do it. But that is absolutely no reason for Bucky to have to die. Marvel brought him back against a bunch of pissing and moaning from the fans, gave him to Brubaker who turned him into a really great character and let the spotlight shine on him for a couple of years, won all the fans over and now they’re taking all that and throwing it away just for one poorly-constructed scene in an event book. It makes no sense. It doesn’t sell any extra copies of the book, it didn’t add anything to the scene, and it didn’t take away from how blah and boring the rest of the story has been. It was nothing. Just a nothing scene. Despite my love for the character, I felt absolutely nothing reading this. Not to mention it made no sense at all to keep him completely out of the first two books, then turn around in issue three and off him out of nowhere. WHAT? That is damn LAZINESS, Matt Fraction—LAZY. YOU MAKE KITTY CRY.
Daken: Dark Wolverine #9.1 – Rob Williams writes this issue in place of the tag team of Daniel Way and Marjorie Liu. I’m not sure if this is a permanent change or just a fill in—I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that Marjorie Liu won’t be co-writing anymore, but I could be wrong. At any rate, the title’s been a little hit and miss for me. I enjoyed most of the earlier stuff, but as soon as the crossover with X-23 happened, I got a little turned off. With that done and over now, all of the attention is rightfully back on Daken. Despite the “point one” suggestion that this is a good jumping on point to read the book, it really wouldn’t hurt to go out of your way and pick up the stuff that came before it. It’ll only give you a fuller sense of the story and a better understanding of Daken as a character. Issue #9.1 mainly deals with Daken ascertaining his dominion over … well, himself, really—who he is, what he’s about, and the fact that he’s not Wolverine. As the issue opens with one of Daken’s victims chastising him with the reality that all he ever does is destroy—never does he create anything—Daken actually takes it to heart and decides to act. How he acts, I’ll leave it for you to see, but something kind of falls flat this issue. While the story idea isn’t terrible, it’s also not particularly strong, and just feels a bit recycled. That said, the impression we’re left with is that Daken will be launching into something better moving forward. Ron Garney on art is, like the story itself, hit and miss, but I haven’t given up on this yet. Let’s see what the next few issues bring.
Uncanny X-Force #11 – The Apocalypse personality continues to cause trouble for our dear Warren Worthington in the lastest issue of what has easily become one of my favorite comics on the shelf, and it’s up to the rest of the X-Force team to cure Warren of what ails him. Unfortunately, curing him means trusting in Dark Beast of the AoA and following him back into his own time in order to procure the life seed (what’s with the “seed” theme this month?) that will temper the Apocalypse personality within Warren. The character interaction here is great, not only among team members, but also with the surprise guests that pop up from the Age of Apocalypse timeline. You know when I said that X-Men: Legacy was the best X-book out there right now, and that the rest is toilet paper? Well, at the time I said that, I’d apparently forgotten about Uncanny X-Force. This title has been oh-my-word good since issue one, and Rick Remender is showing no signs of slowing down. This is the quality of writing—character, plot, and setting—that I look for in every book I pick up each month, but only seem to get in a handful. If that. I’ll take this over the 800 Fear Itself tie-ins any day.
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 #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 never 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 #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 been 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 #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.