This Week’s Comics

We’ve got a good batch of comics coming out this week, and most of them involve Batman, so I’m going to consider this week a rousing success.  Here’s what I’m looking at this week.

  • AVENGERS & INFINITY GAUNTLET #4 (OF 4) – All told, this is a pretty different Infinity Gauntlet than the one I know and love.  The stakes don’t seem as high and no one seems to be taking it seriously. Still, it’s funny and contains more than it’s share of action and adventure for it to qualify as a good read.
  • BATMAN AND ROBIN #17 – With Grant Morrison moving off this book to greener bat-pastures I was all set to drop this title…Until I saw that Paul Cornell is handling the new story arc.  After an incredible run on Captain Britain and MI-13 and with a stellar Knight and Squire title on the stands now, I’m very excited to see what he’ll bring to a main bat-title.
  • BATMAN BEYOND #6 (OF 6) – Our first venture to the in-continuity Batman Beyond universe has been pretty successful…And paved the way for a new on-going.  Like the TV show, it’s got all of the trappings of a science fiction story but is well-versed in current continuity. Ordinarily I would have thought writer Adam Beechen was trying to cram too much into six issues but he makes it work.
  • BATWOMAN #0 – I’m curious, and I don’t care who knows it.  (I also resisted the urge to use the pun bat-curious, so I’m having an especially restrained day.)
  • FANTASTIC FOUR #585 – I really can’t say this enough: each issue of Jonathan Hickman’s FF run is better than the last.  He is quickly becoming a Jeff Parker for me: a writer I’ll follow anywhere sight unseen.

Speaking of following writers, since I’ve enjoyed Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet so much, I’ve been looking forward to trying out Brian Clevenger’s book Atomic Robo.  Last week the first issue of volume 5,

Buy this book.

Deadly Art of Science, came out and I’m happy to say it was incredible. Based solely on this one issue I get a strong feel of Mike Allred’s Madman, in that our protagonist is put together to help Do Science but wants to experience more of the world.  On top of that Scott Wegener turns in incredibly strong artwork, highly stylized but consistent and easy to read.  Highly recommended for anyone who likes their comics with a dose of fun and high adventure.

I really tried to talk myself into picking up Batman: The Return and Batman, Incorporated last week, but couldn’t get past the price point.  Inc was just another standard-sized $4 book, and BTR was just
too expensive at $5, and half-full of sketches and back matter. Knight and Squire, on the other hand, was a great example of How To Write Comics.  Sure, they’re a play off of Batman and Robin, but Paul Cornell is doing an incredible job of making them characters independent of that mythos, and highlights the differences by playing off the innate Britishness of those characters rather than making them Batman and Robin clones with funny voices.  Sure, some of the references are fairly obscure, but Cornell does my ignorance a favor by including a text page of explanations rather than forcing me to spend 10 minutes on Wikipedia.

Despite my doubts (and the poor showing by last week’s overpriced bat-books), Thunderbolts #150 was a great example of getting more for your money. For $5 we got a 96-page issue with a new (extended?) done-in-one story, a recap of all the major Thunderbolts events to this point, and a reprint of Thunderbolts #1.  That’s a lot of bang for the buck. Meanwhile, Jeff Parker just makes this book so INTERESTING.  Every character is different and has their own motivations, yet seems incredibly authentic.  I enjoyed the original Busiek run and Warren Ellis’ take with Norman Osborn, but I think this is the best the book has ever been.

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

This Week’s Comics

We have another fairly healthy batch of comics this week. Let’s dive in.

  • AVENGERS & INFINITY GAUNTLET #3 (OF 4) – This book is a fun, light romp through the Infinity Gauntlet saga, and while I don’t know why some of the main characters were chosen (Ms. Marvel seems more like a creator pick rather than a kids’ favorite) it’s been a hoot.
  • BRUCE WAYNE THE ROAD HOME ORACLE #1 and BRUCE WAYNE THE ROAD HOME RAS AL GHUL #1 – So far I’ve only picked up one of these, and seeing as they all connect, I think I’ll wind up skipping these, too, unless they just look stellar.  At this point I’d be too lost to pick things up.
  • IMAGE FIRSTS DEAD AT 17 and HACK SLASH – More cheap intros into series that I’ve heard are great.  I’ll definitely be checking these out.
  • FANTASTIC FOUR #584 – As horrified as I was to hear that an issue of this would be polybagged (and the editorial reasons and excuses for why this time is different just ring false to me), Jonathan Hickman continues to take the team to fun and incredible places.
  • SPIDER-MAN VS VAMPIRES #1 – I’d be way more interested in this high concept if it didn’t feel like Marvel was hopping on a bandwagon years too late.  Like with Dazzler and disco.
  • THUNDERBOLTS #149 – Another great book, as it really feels like criminals are trying to walk the line and reform rather than hide in plain sight like the other iterations.  And Jeff Parker does a great job of making me like this book even though I hate the characters. (Come on, they’re villains!)

I did a great disservice forgetting where we were Batman and Robin with last week’s #15.  With the Joker holding Robin hostage and some eerie art by Irving Frasier, it didn’t take long to pick up where I left off,  Also, I finally made it to Knight and Squire #1 and absolutely loved it.  It embraced it’s British roots, and made some valuable meta-commentary about what makes British characters so different.  I can’t wait to read more.  This almost makes up for losing Captain Britain and MI-13.

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

This Week’s Comics

We’ve got a decent week this time around.  Here’s what I’m looking at.

  • IMAGE FIRSTS I KILL GIANTS #1 – I think I’ve heard good things about this one, so yeah, I’ll try it for a buck.  Thanks Image.
  • MUPPET SHOW #10 – Rather than blindly repeating myself about how good it is, here’s everything we’ve said about this book in the past.  I’m sure it will all still apply.
  • NEMESIS #3 (OF 4) – I’ve really been enjoying this book, even if the third issue is super-late.  Was it always only 4 issues, though?  That doesn’t sound right…
  • SKULLKICKERS #1 – I dunno, why not?  It’s only $3.  (See how easy that is, Marvel and DC?)

Well, that was brief. Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet #2 from last week was brief, but great.  It’s not very action-oriented, but it is hilarious.  With that in mind I present the top 4 quotes from that issue.

  1. Doctor Doom – “As the only ruler of a sovereign nation to embark upon this journey,
    DOOM shall take the coveted “shotgun” seat.”
  2. Spider-Man – “Wait.  There’s ASTROcrows?”  Ace (sadly) – “Not a day goes by I wish there WEREN’T…”
  3. Spider-Man – “Warp Factor 9, Mr. Spock!” Doom – “Sulu.”
  4. Ace – “That ain’t no space blimp.  That’s a space ZEPPELIN.”

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

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?