This Week’s Comics — And Some Light Reviewing

It’s a fairly light week this time around, which is good because it gives me a chance to write up some  reviews.  Here’s what I’m looking at this week.

  • AVENGERS & INFINITY GAUNTLET #2 (OF 4) – I was really looking forward to the first issue of this title, and it didn’t disappoint.  Ever since then I’ve been jonesing for the next issue, which almost never happens.  So that’s what you should pull away from this: Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet is like hard drugs.
  • JOE THE BARBARIAN #7 ( OF 8 ) – Grant Morrison’s ode to The Chronicles of Narnia reaches it’s penultimate issue.  I’m fairly certain that the main story will get itself worked out, I just hope we find out why there are two worlds.  Hallucinations won’t be a satifying answer unless this is really Morrison’s ode to 80’s kid  movies (kid goes to fantasy world, wakes up as if it were all a dream, but finds a remnant of the dream, proving it was real).

It’s not with shame, but not exactly with pride that I reveal I’ve been picking up Spawn lately, after several years of successfully resisting the urge to pick it up.  Like every other comic collector 18 years ago I picked up most of the early issues, dwindling down until I was picking them up only sporadically.  When issue 100 rolled  around and I realized how much time had passed without anything really happening (or being very good) I finally hung it up.  Then came the Armageddon storyline, which promised to wrap everything up, and Endgame, which put  away Al Simmons and introduced Jim Downing (and has been pretty solid), so I’ve gotten sucked back in, at least to the extent that I can dig up issues cheaply.  Now we’re ramping up to issue 200 and Todd  McFarlane has gotten some old buddies to help out with the art chores, in the form of Rob Liefeld and Erik Larsen.  What strikes me most of all is how little of their respective styles are present in the book, which was inked by McFarlane. It seems like if you’re going to hire big names like that you want to utilize their talent.  Instead, it just looks like any other McFarlane book. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it seems like a waste of a collaboration when he could have gotten anyone to do layouts.

For a while now I’ve been meaning to re-read Batman R.I.P. and Final Crisis, thinking that I was a little hard on it when it first came out.  I sat down with Batman R.I.P. yesterday, and as I suspected, it read much, much better in one sitting.  The monthly serial format didn’t do this story any favors, as it became too easy to forget what set off Batman’s madness (the drugs administered by Dr. Hurt) and what parts were flashbacks.  And while I should have been able to separate the two, the events from Final Crisis bled over too much for me to be able to keep everything straight.

This time, though, everything seemed linear, composed, and incredibly well-planned.  The critical events Morrison doesn’t dwell on are much easier to keep in mind when the effects are read minutes later, as opposed to weeks.  This time around I was very impressed by Morrison’s work and Tony Daniels’ art, both in the planning it took through this run and the sheer volume of Silver Age material they were able to
incorporate into it.  (It doesn’t hurt that I recently read the SA inspiration for most of this in the Tales From the Black Casebook TPB.)  If something didn’t sit well with you the first time around, I highly recommend going back and revisiting the story.

Now it’s time to go back and revisit Final Crisis and a few of its spin-offs.  I hope they’re as rewarding to return to.

That’s it for me for this week.  What are YOU looking at?

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