This Week’s Comics

Two surprisingly full weeks of releases after a long dry spell is a welcome change, even if I know it’s not sustainable for long.  Here are this week’s new and noteworthy titles.
  • BRAVEST WARRIORS #2 – I didn’t know what to expect from the first issue of Bravest Warriors, but it was a fun book.  The team spends the issue trying to creep each other out by relating scary story trailers.  It’s funny and weird in the same sense as Adventure Time, but it felt a little on the light side.  A kid would like it more than an adult, I think (as opposed to AT, which can satisfy both audiences equally), but it’s still a good read.
  • DAREDEVIL #20
  • GLORY #30
  • GOON #43 – Man, The Goon.  Eric Powell has been on such a great roll of insanely good stories lately, but they haven’t had the same level of comedy that I’ve come to expect from The Goon.  I’m not complaining in the least (and the hilarious and pointed superhero issue is probably more recent than I remember) but I feel like the world could be opened up (a la Hellboy and BRPD) to incorporate all types of stories each month.
  • HAWKEYE #4 – It is absolutely RIDICULOUS how good Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye title is.  I love the character, and really enjoyed the last Fabian Nicieza title, but even I didn’t expect how good it would be.  From the dry wit and action of Fraction’s story to the sparse but moody art by Aja, this book is just a knockout.  It’s not quite broken in enough to challenge Waid’s Daredevil, but with Paolo Rivera no longer handling the artwork it’s poised to bump that title.
  • IT GIRL & THE ATOMICS #4
  • JUDGE DREDD #1 – I’m curious if the U.S. can replicate the dark cyncism of Dredd, but I’ll give it a quick check to see how it looks.
  • ROCKETEER CARGO OF DOOM #4
  • THE SPIDER #6
  • X-O MANOWAR (ONGOING) #7 – I’m picking up all of the other Valiant titles, and each and every one of them is a great example of fun comics where things actually happen in every issue.  But for some reason I’m not getting X-O.  So tell me, how is it?  Am I missing anything?
I’ve been pretty ambivalent on the whole concept of Marvel NOW!, to the point where I’m been thinking about using it as a jumping OFF point.  But Fantastic Four #1 hit the stands last week and I couldn’t resist it.  Now, even though I’m a year or so behind on Hickman’s run I was able to follow where all of the characters were at that moment, so it is a decent place to pick it up.  That said, it didn’t do a lot for me.  There was still a family feel, but it left me cold.  Technically, Matt Fraction hits the same notes as Hickman but it just doesn’t come across as warmly for some reason.  Maybe it’s the notes like Reed’s selfish decision to move the school, but I think I’m going to be happy to leave this one behind.
That’s it for this week, what looks good to you?

Saturday Morning Comics

Good morning all, once again it’s time to settle in with a bowl of King Vitamin and peruse this week’s comics offerings. It’s a light week for me; there were only two books on my list. One was worth reviewing and one wasn’t, so I’m also looking at a book from last week that came in late for me.

Fantastic Four #608 story by Jonathan Hickman; art by Giuseppe Camuncoli (breakdowns) and Karl Kesel (finishes); published by Marvel Comics. Hickman’s time on the Fantastic Four books is quickly coming to an end. It looks like his final arc will deal with Wakanda. This issue has Reed and T’Challa traveling down into the depths of the Earth to enter the Wakandan/ Egyptian equivalent of Elysian Fields. They confront the Bast the cat faced goddess, and T’Challa is given a hard choice. Simulanteously Sue, T’Challa’s sister Shuri, and Storm go on a drug induced spirit quest to fight Anubis, Death.

On the one hand the Reed/T’Challa bit was strong. As a reader and fan of Reed Richards, it’s nice to be reminded that he has friends outside of his foursome. Mostly Reed is shown to have colleagues (Pym, Stark, McCoy, etc…). Hickman shows the relationship between Reed and T’Challa as friends first and colleagues second. It works.

The b-storyline with the women, while told in parallel to the a-story, feels rushed, hasty, and unnecessary. If the idea is to show that the women are as capable as the men, don’t magically end their arc on its seventh page as a result of something happening in the a-arc. That Hickman is running against a clock felt most obvious with this issue, and his usual careful pacing suffered for it.

Transformers: Regeneration One #81 story by Simon Furman; art by Andrew Wildman (p) and Stephen Baskerville (i); published by IDW. After 21 years, the original Marvel series picks up again. And boy does it pick up. This issue deals with the Wreckers and their difficulty finding a place in the new cybertronian order. If the last two pages don’t make you squeal with glee like a 14 year-old girl at a One Direction concert, you don’t remember the 1980’s.

For me, and many others, Wildman is THE transformers artist, and that hasn’t changed. Like Kevin Maguire, his strength comes from the emotions conveyed on his faces. Amazingly, he does this to equal effect with characters like Optimus Prime where 3/4 of the facial cues are covered by a faceplate.

The one thing that I’d like to see change on this title is the coloring. The computer coloring is too busy for me. There are too many different shades of color happening and not as much shading with inking. If you look at cover B, you’re reminded of how it used to be. For me, on Transformers, that’s how it should be.

 

THIS WEEK’S COVERS

Game Tape

This was a pretty good week. At least for me, issues ran from pretty good to not too shabby. So let’s see what we see.

Months and months ago, I dropped Green Lantern because I didn’t want to read a story pretending not to be Dragonball Z or The Thirteen Ghosts of Scooby Doo (ie a story where the characters are on an search for x, y, and z mcguffins over an indefinite period of time). Johns was shoe-horning a hamfisted plot over his  search for the dragonba…er…ghos…er avatars of the lantern power. This said, it may be a surprise that I really enjoy Paul Cornell’s Action Comics. Lex is essentially collecting Dragon Balls, but that’s all he’s doing, and he’s doing it shamelessly. Of course Cornell’s/ Luthor’s shamelessness is infinitely more fun to read about. Specific to this issue, Larfleeze shows up with one of the spheres and words are bandied regarding the nature of desire, power, and want. If you’re a fan of avarice and the color orange, the last two Larfleeze pages are worth the price of admission. We also get a clue as to who might be partially responsible for this business.

This week also saw a return of something that has not been true in almost a decade: I walked out of the shop with three X-books. In quick order, here are a few thoughts on each.

1. Age of X continues in X-Men Legacy  #245 this week. I’m still enjoying this look at dystopia. The X-writers have gone out of their way to create relationships and back stories for characters that we haven’t seen before. Rogue serves a unique and chilling purpose in Age of X that makes sense for her power set. It’s also fun to see Cannonball busting Cyclops’s chops like a drill sergeant to a buck private. The use of Wolverine in this issue and the previous installment of this crossover are also intriguing and well done. Finally, we get glimpses that suggest that readers should not be pulling for Magneto to win the day. Poor Kitty Pride.

2. X-Men #8 continues the teams trip back to New York. I was interested in seeing how the X-Men and Spidey might face Lizard. Now, not so much. It reads similarly to Gischler’s first arc. Find vampire and replace with lizard man. Find San Francisco and replace with New York. Find Cyclops and replace with Storm. Done. There is a mystery as to who is behind all of this reptili-mania (hint: it’s not Connors). If you haven’t picked up the book, go back and read the vampire arc. It’s better and surprisingly more novel even though it’s lacking cannons that shoot vampires from the moon.

3. Astonishing X-Men is back, and Daniel Way (of Wolverine, et al. fame) is at the helm. Like X-Men, this issue involves lizards. It also involves, a certain island, Mentallo and Japan. I don’t want to say much more, but I feel confident that Jesse will be picking up to book based on certain words in the previous two sentences…oh, there’s also a death in family, but it’s more of a plot point to get the mutants to Japan.

Which brings us to the “final” issue of Fantastic Four. Pardon me if I sound incredulous; twelve issues before a big 600th anniversary and they’re canceling the title? Right. That aside, the issue is enjoyable. It’s not really a memorial for Johnny; rather it shows how each member of the family deals with his death. Valeria’s reaction is chilling, while read has an  impotent moment with Anihilus. My favorite moment was watching Ben handle the loss. Hulk and Thor are there with shoulders to cry on in a way that made me a little teary. At the same time, Hickman (as always) is building a foundation. The back up story with Franklin and Spider-Man was decent too in spite of the annoying “Hey there little guy” voice that Peter uses when talking to Franklin. I hate that voice.

Finally, there’s Nick Spencer’s Iron-Man 2.0. It was okay. Yeah.

So all in all it was a good week to read comics. Hope you enjoyed your stack as much as I enjoyed mine.


Game Tape

As Jesse pointed out on Tuesday, there are a ton of books out this week worth looking at. Two books change the status quo for their characters. All progressed a larger plot. Some did this very well… some not so much. Here’s what we’re looking at.

I’d be an idiot not to talk about Fantastic Four #587. Is it worth they hype and the polybag? No. It’s a great issue… dare I say fantastic, but it’s no Superman #75. The black polybag is almost certainly meant to evoke the memory of that issue, yet it falls short on the emotional impact. Everything about the issue is set up and executed masterfully except for the death at the end. It seems like a formality: as though it’s a mile post that has to be passed on the way somewhere else. Maybe that’s how death should be viewed…

That said, I loved everything else about this issue. Galactus acts petulantly leaving his thread open and Sue pimp slaps someone. There’s no doubt it’s a big issue that changes much for the team. I’m looking forward to the next, and “last” issue.

Chaos War ended this week with issue #5. Big things change for Hercules, and Alpha Flight is back, but I was mostly left feeling, “so what?” That said, I am looking forward to the new series, Herc, in April. The interplay between Cho and Hercules is almost always worth the price of admission.

Age of X: Alpha was an interesting introduction to this new alternate reality. All the major mutant players are already gathered around Magneto at his Fortress X. So we don’t get any back story on the universe. We do meet a lot of characters, and we get to know origins of a few. We also get an explanation of why there’s not been a Wolverine in the promo images. If you read the communiques that CBR has been posting, you already know half the stories told here in this Tales of the Green Lantern Corps style book. I’m in for one more issue only because it’s an alternate reality X-Men. Here’s hoping the main story is stronger and better framed.

 

Finally, Action Comics was okay. Luthor (and readers) learns more about the spheres thanks to the Joker. It’s hinted strongly that someone is yanking Luthor’s chain, and it’s someone the Joker is frightened of. There are some nice Joker moments, but the issue falls a little flat. Still, there’s enough intrigue and interest to keep with the title. Cornell’s work is still solid here.

This issue is also the first to be missing it’s Jimmy Olsen back up. It is missed sorely.

This Week’s Comics

We’ve got quite a long list this week, with a pretty healthy number of books I would have picked up anyway. Here’s what’s I’m looking at.

  • ACTION COMICS #897 – I’ve been really looking forward to the DC price drop SPECIFICALLY so I could start picking up Paul Cornell’s Action Comics…only to cut myself off at the knees by The Experiment.
  • AGE OF X ALPHA #1 – To be honest, I get fed up with X-Overs, and I’ve had a hard time identifying the X-Characters in the ads. But curiosity gets the best of me sometimes.
  • AVENGERS #9, NEW AVENGERS #8, and SECRET AVENGERS #9 – This is way too many Avengers books, but each seems to have their own interesting hook. I just picked up several back issues of each for 50 cents each, and I expect these will be pretty easy to get caught up on.
  • CHAOS WAR #5 – I really enjoed the first issue (and all of The Incredible Herc), but cover price and Matt’s less-than-glowing review for subsequent issues led me to drop it pretty quickly.
  • DETECTIVE COMICS #873 – You know…Batman.
  • FANTASTIC FOUR #587 – This is the one I’m afraid I’ll never be able to find for less than cover price. Jonathan Hickman’s work on this book has been revelatory.
  • SPAWN #201 – Only to see the new direction.
  • THUNDERBOLTS #152 – Passing up this one is going to be hard. Jeff Parker’s really been taking this book about die-hard criminals to fun places.
  • UNCANNY X-FORCE #4 – Much like I wrote about Jason Aaron’s Wolverine last week, I’ve been hearing great things about Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force. So I’m in as long as it stays good.

So, these get added to my running pull list and that’s it for me this week. What are YOU looking at?

This Week’s Comics

After several weeks with healthy amounts of comics to pick up, my streak was inevitably going to end.  And this is that week.  Here’s what I’m looking at this week.

  • BATMAN AND ROBIN #16 – Since I put my foot in my mouth about the last issue I’m just to say I’m picking this one up.
  • CHAOS WAR #3 (OF 5) – I really enjoyed the first issue, but the price tag and Matt’s mediocre impression of issue #2 means I’ll be finishing this up on the cheap when I can find it.
  • DC COMICS PRESENTS CHASE #1 and THE FLASH GREEN LANTERN #1 – I was really excited that DC was putting these out, but my shop has been selling out by the time I make it in on Saturday.  I was able to flip through a few on Sunday, though, and was pretty disappointed. Ten year-old Superman and Green Lantern stories aren’t particularly hard to find or essential, so I’m hoping DC chooses some better source material for future volumes.
  • STRANGE TALES 2 #2 (OF 3) – I loved the first Strange Tales anthology and was pretty psyched that Marvel was handing over the keys to indie creators again.  While the price tag just put me off too much, I’m looking forward to digging these up in a back issue bin.

I can’t say enough about last week’s Fantastic Four #584.  For each issue I go in expecting big things from Hickman and new artist Steve Epting and they still manage to blow me away.  The characterization in
this issue was so well done it should serve as a lesson to new writers.  We learn more about Sue Storm and Emma Frost in their two-word greeting than we would in a whole page of Claremontian captioning.  Meanwhile, Johnny and Ben’s day on the town was brilliant, especially the dinner with Stan and Jack.  If you’ve been on the fence about getting on board this incredible run, now’s the time to hop on.  Even though this is the second issue of “Three,” and about a year into Hickman’s run, each issue does a great job as a standalone, too.

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