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.
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.
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.
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.
Before I get into the reviews, let me just mention what is sure to be a fantastic new web comic, Lady Sabre & the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether by Greg Rucka and Rick Burchett. It’s just launched this week and so far I am pretty excited. Rucka is one of my favorite writers (and a totally cool person to boot), Burchett’s art looks lovely, and the site design is awesome. Worth checking out and supporting, so spread the word!
Avengers: Children’s Crusade #6 – Oh. Amazing. Just … completely wonderful. More comics should be this. MORE OF THIS, PLEASE, MARVEL.
Batman, Inc. #7 – I was ready to give up on the Batman, Inc. title after what I thought was a horrible arc in Argentina. Morrison lost me pretty hard with some of his writing techniques and the fact that I basically had no idea what was happening for like three issues. Then all this DC reboot stuff came up, and everyone’s all like “You have to read Batman, Inc. or the Bat books won’t make sense!” I guess I still don’t really understand how ANYTHING’S going to make sense as far as how we can keep the continuity in this title when characters are changing in so many other titles come September, but all right, whatever—I’ll bite. The book is ending soon, anyway—I’ll stay on for the ride and see what happens. So then I picked up this issue and was … absolutely glued to it. Wow. What? Where was THIS stuff hiding? I truly enjoyed this issue on so many levels. The story was meaningful, the artwork by Chris Burnham was a pleasure, the writing was clean and purposeful, and it didn’t teeter off the path or dillydally like it did in previous issues. The story is entirely self-contained in this one issue, and it’s friggin’ fantastic. I finished this and wondered why more Grant Morrison comics couldn’t be written in a similar manner. Morrison takes two characters I have never read or knew of before and creates something that feels so easy and humble. He rarely does that for me—so much of the time when I read his stories, they feel condescending or “holier-than-thou.” This one doesn’t, and it’s perfect. I enjoyed this issue a lot, and thus am now expectant of the remainder of the series to be the same. Read this. I don’t want to summarize the plot—just give it a read.
The Guild: Bladezz One-Shot – So, I’m kind of obsessed with The Guild. If you’re a gamer and have never watched this web show, do yourself a favor and check it out, because it’s awesome and hilarious. Watch it on the website. Watch it on YouTube. Netflix it. Get the DVDs off Amazon. Whatever—just do it. It’s become such a hit, in fact, that Dark Horse has taken to publishing one-shot Guild comics for each member of the Knights of Good. I’d recommend reading the short Guild miniseries that came out last year as well, as it serves as a prequel to the show and gives some more depth to the main character. It’s also super short, inexpensive, and collected in trade for your convenience. Anyway, tangent—Bladezz is the third one-shot to be produced, after Vork and Tinkerballa. It’s on par with its predecessors, if not slightly better. I have an affinity for Bladezz as a character, I think he’s pretty damn hilarious, and I found his one-shot light and funny. The artwork isn’t really my taste, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad, and it’s basically in line with the issues before it. So, bottom line—read Guild comics. They’ll give you +5 to Sexterity.
Wolverine/Black Cat: Claws 2 #1 – … Are you serious right now? Are you absolutely serious? Reading this, I could feel a part of my brain crack apart and die. I don’t even want to glorify it with a full review, suffice it to say Palmiotti’s writing is nothing more than fanservice and brings me to a hysterical fit of tears, and Linsner on art is eye-gouging. Don’t go near this thing. Just … don’t. It’s actually worse than the first one. If you can imagine that.
Well, that was a pleasant surprise. I didn’t expect to like this book at all—I wasn’t even going to give it the time of day, but seeing some preview pages caught my eye and I decided to give it a chance. I’m glad I did, because this was easily one of the most enjoyable reads I’ve had lately.
You see a title like “Wolverine & Jubilee” and you think it could go either way. The “Wolverine” part could be good—but then, how much of that actually has merit and how much of it is just a plug by Marvel to pull you in? The “Jubilee,” on the other hand, kind of induces a bubbly gag reflex, and you think to yourself, dear God, why would I want to pick up this book?
But you do want to pick it up—and here’s why.
If you’ve followed the events of Victor Gischler’s X-Men series at all—on which I admit I am way behind—you know by now that our dear Jubilee is—SHOCK—A VAMPIRE(bolditalicunderline)!!! Who the heck writes about vampires these days, anyway? Where did those guys come from? Does anyone even like vampires anymore?
Hate for the vampire fad aside, Jubilee is now one of the undead, and she’s had some of Wolverine’s blood transfused into her in the hope that his healing factor kicks in and takes the edge off of Jube’s crazy bloodlust. And it’s working. Kind of. There’s a very humorous opening scene in which Dr. Rao and Emma Frost debate exactly what “it’s working” actually means.
This four-issue miniseries, then, takes a bigger focus on what’s happening to Jubilee post-vampire encounter, and how the X-Men and Wolverine are handling the situation. My immediate reaction this idea was “Why should I care? It’s Jubilee.” But then I kind of mulled it over, thought about how I haven’t really read Jubilee in quite a while, about how great her scene with Wolverine in Girl Comics was, and got nostalgic to my days as a kid watching the 90s animated series. Then I looked at the cover of this and saw the names Immonen (that’s Kathryn, not Stuart) and Noto, and I was basically sold.
The first issue centers on Wolverine’s concern for Jubilee, who he sees as being his responsibility, as his blood now flows through her veins. The X-Men are wary of letting Jubilee out amongst the other students, believing her desire for blood is too strong for her to control, and that she will ultimately seek others on whom to feed. Jubilee’s reaction is as you’d expect—rage, angst, confusion, frustration. When she leaves the mansion (at night of course) and encounters a stranger, Wolverine tracks her down and finds her alive, but amongst a heap of bloodied bodies.
In between scenes of Jubilee lashing out and Wolverine attempting to control the situation, there are some interesting moments with other characters, including Santo—who’s crushing on our vampiric Jubes; Armor—who doesn’t trust her and picks a fight; and Emma Frost—whom Kathryn Immonen writes spectacularly well. Heck, even the inclusion of Pixie can’t ruin this book for me. Immonen makes it that good, and Phil Noto’s art is something I’ve come to realize I’ve missed. I fell in love with his stuff back during his run on Birds of Prey, and I dare say he’s even better here.
Jubilee’s current situation is going to breed a great storyline here, and it’s about time they did something pertinent with her character. Her relationship with Wolverine is almost taking on an X-23-like feel, and I actually hear she’s going to be appearing in Laura’s book shortly. Under either title, she’s going to be in good hands, and the fact that they’ve made me actually care at all says a lot. Can’t wait for issue #2.
X-posted at Nerd Caliber