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.
I’m a day late, and there’s a bunch of fun stuff this week! I’m also a week behind in picking up my sub, so I’ve got DOUBLE COMIC BOOKNESS to catch up on—amazing how easy it is to fall behind. And after I spent all that sick time catching up on books, too. Sigh. A reader’s battle never ends, does it? For those wondering, PAX East was a blast last weekend—I hope some of y’all went. I’m working on a review post, but it’s slow-coming.
Anyway. Here we go!
5 Ronin #3 – Number THREE?! What?!? When did that happen? I apparently missed the first two. What I want to know is whether or not all five of these issues are connected into one over-arching story, or if they’re all standalone. If it’s the latter, I’m probably only buying the Psylocke issue. Maybe Wolverine. We’ll see. Actually, I changed my mind—they all look interesting. Hope the writing lives up to my expectations based on the gorgeous covers.
Avengers Children’s Crusade Young Avengers #1 – I’m officially lost on what’s happening here. Why did they need to come out with another separate mini for the Children’s Crusade storyline? Why couldn’t this all be contained under one heading? It makes no sense. Also, I think they should throw the word “Avengers” in there a couple more times.
Fear Itself Book of the Skull #1 – This isn’t actually on my pull list; I just wanted to comment that it’s the official kickoff of the Fear Itself event, I guess. You all can let me know how that goes.
Uncanny X-Force #5.1 – I’m going to ignore the “Point One” initiative of ridiculousness here and just say that this book is SO GREAT. Cannot wait to get my hands on it.
Uncanny X-Men Annual #3 – Oh God, I’m sooooo behind. You know, I like to spend my time reading good X-books, like X-Men Legacy. I still can’t bring myself to work through Matt Fraction’s wretched issues that are piling up on my desk.
X-Factor #217 – Speaking of good X-books, I’ve read only a handful of issues of X-Factor over the years. I’ve always wanted to get into this title, but the backlog is too much and I have too little time to go backward into 200+ issues of story. I’m making an exception for this issue and the one before it, because … well. Who can guess? If you’ve been paying attention to the posts on here, you should know exactly why I’m interested. :-)
From last week:
Batgirl #19 – OMG I can’t wait, I LOVE THIS BOOK!
Batman, Inc. #3 – Holy lateness, Batman!
Hawkeye: Blind Spot #2 – I read the first issue of this mini, and it was pretty disappointing. I expected more from Jim McCann. Think I’ll be leaving this one on the shelf.
Sigil #1 – Writer? Mike Carey. ‘Nuff said.
Superboy #5 – Superboy and Kid Flash race!
Wonder Woman #608 – I … you know, I almost wasn’t going to include this. And realistically, I shouldn’t have, because it’s not actually on my pull list. But then I saw this solicitation for June where DC says
This is the one you’ve waited for! The year-long “Odyssey” storyline comes to an earth-shattering conclusion! Can Diana defeat the powerful forces that destroyed her entire reality? And even if she wins, she could still lose everything!
and it made me feel dirty and used, and I got a little (more) pissy. It essentially affirms everything I’ve been saying since day one of this hogwash, that it’s not really about reinventing Diana or making her into a better character; it’s about pulling the typical marketing gimmick and making it sound all-important when in fact, all they’ve done is rob us of a year’s worth of good stories. <INITIATE GEEK RAGE SEQUENCE>
X-Men Legacy #246 – Thank God for you, Mike Carey. Thank God for you.
That’s all mine; what’s on YOURS?
The even more intriguing parts of this tale unfold toward the end of Legacy and throughout New Mutants, wherein Kitty Pryde comes into play and we discover that not all is as it seems within the Fortress. Imprisoned beneath its walls are a number of mutants deemed too powerful and “dangerous” to be let free, and you may or may not be able to guess what surprises lay there.
After reading the first two parts to Age of X, I went back into older issues of Legacy to see if I could piece together any information from previous hints dropped in the preceding stories. There is a great, great line in #244 wherein Rogue speaks to Madison Jeffries and asks him if he’s getting a sense of deja vu—which will only make sense if you read New Mutants #22. The thing that makes it so difficult to review a book like this is that there is so much to address, and yet so little you actually feel you can address without “spoiling” what makes it so special. This is particularly so with regard to new readers—you’re better off coming in blind (pun!) than trying to form some sort of understanding of the plot before you read it. Where normally I’d be rioting against a story that takes place across multiple books and forces you to pick up more titles than you’d care to (e.g., Civil War, Secret Invasion, Marvel’s next big event, on and on), this one actually makes sense. You really need more than one title a month to contain this story, and you’re only picking up one extra book, rather than five or seven.
And I nearly forgot to say something about Clay Mann’s pencils, which are extraordinary. Mann is quickly emerging as one of my favorite pencilers, and he is absolutely at the top of his game here. I cannot say enough good things about him.
Take the leap and pick up these two titles. In fact, part three of the story was due out yesterday in Legacy, and it is beyond worth a look. If you’re used to the commonplace, stale guff that’s been going on in Uncanny lately, you’ll find energy in this book. Do yourself a favor and meet Mike Carey in Age of X.
X-posted @ Nerd Caliber
Working on a couple of reviews for the AoX stories in X-Men Legacy and New Mutants; hoping to have those up by the end of the week. Being sick has afforded me some much-needed reading time, so I’ve been able to get caught up on a couple of titles. I also managed, after some help and much nagging from the boyfriend, to finally bag two short boxes worth of crazy backlog. Sadly, I’m still no where near finished. Note to self: Bag and file your shit right away, before it becomes a “project.”
So, in the down time until my next post, here are a couple of cool things I’ve come across this week:
My new blog addiction: http://bookshelfporn.com/ It’s not what you might be thinking (hahaa).
My friend Rick has started putting up some gaming demos on his YouTube page. He’s a cool guy and a hardcore gamer, so if gaming is your calling, you should definitely check out his stuff. Sample video below!
That’s all I got for now; be sure to tune in later when I desperately throw myself at Mike Carey.
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?
This issue of Legacy continues in India, where young mutant Indra has come home to a comatose brother and a subsequent arranged marriage. Meanwhile, in the heart of the city, Rogue, Magneto, Anole, and Loa take on a Sentinel sent by the Children of the Vault, who have made their triumphant return. The group also takes in a new mutant girl, Luz, who has the power to bend light and create “light sculptures.” Little do the X-Men know, she is on the run from the Vault, and proceeds to stir up trouble amongst the group of mutants before the Children make their appearance known at the end of the issue in order to recapture her. There’s also an absolutely hilarious, badass, and completely unexpected scene between Rogue and Magneto that I won’t spoil for you, because it’s worth checking out. So … go. Check out.
And that’s just what’s happening on the surface. Below that, there is so, so much more. Carey is clearly continuing to build and plot with this storyline–wherever the story ends, we’ll continue to feel the effects of it long during the writer’s tenure, I’m sure.
What can I say about Clay Mann? Something about his pencils echoes Olivier Coipel to me, and I like it. In fact, this guy might just be my artistic hero. I can’t remember the last time I actually opened up a comic and saw the human figure drawn proportionately and real. Rogue is full bodied and lovely. Magneto is robust in his civvies without appearing overly muscular and fake. The background sceneries and architecture are inviting, and everything’s easy on the eyes. Overall, I can’t imagine what this title might be like in the hands of someone else when it comes the script, and now the art is living up to the writing. Can’t say I’ve been this happy about an X-book for a long time.
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Written by Mike Carey
Pencils by Clay Mann
Inks by Jay Leisten
Colors by Brian Reber
Letters by VC’s Cory Petit