Monday, March 23, 2015

comics for the week of 03/18/15.

March Madness is here!

All New X-Men 39 - This is bullshit. I know it's out of order now. The art is beautifully amazing and there was a cool moment between young Jean and young Scott, interrupted (I think?) by young Hank (but they're talking about Hank later and I can't imagine the old one is part of this bullshit crossover, so I have no idea because I'm not reading the rest of this bullshit arc) that was cool, but other than that, this is blah.

Buffy 13 - This book is really improving. I like the maturity with which the Spike and Buffy relationship is handled in the morning (after), I like Xander's logical reaction to Spike's story, and I like the layered references to Dr. Mike. (This feels like something sinister hiding in plain sight, so that'll be cool if we got the foreshadowing, but it's also something Buffy does just to throw something around, so it could be nothing.) The whole thing with Andrew felt more than a little bit like pandering to a certain section of the fans, but I don't think there's anything wrong with that. The gay audience probably has some issues with the Buffy comics, and they're probably not off base. But the good news was that something happened with the vampy bunch while Spike was locked up, so the Scoobies are pretty certain it's not him. Which is good, because it helps to continue with the mature approach that works so well. We've ruled out one thing, let's move on to the next. The art was still a bit cartoon-y for my taste, but it worked well enough.

Mint MGMT 31 - Well, what we missed in margin notes we got made up in the extraordinary meta-level of the comic book within the comic book, composed by Meru, serving as a guide for herself, her editor, the reader, and, possibly, the enemy? This book is incredible, the way that it functions on so many planes. The best panel, obviously, was the one with Meru and Lyme and the field of roses, with its Arthurian allusions. Great, great great stuff. I'm bummed this is coming to a close, but I can't wait until it's all done to pick up all the hardcovers and give it a re-read all at once. Next issue we'll see things from the other side?

The Private Eye 10 - Whoah. That was fucked up. We got the unhappiest possible ending of all possible endings. I mean, I thought having the rug pulled out from underneath me and having to root for the bad guy at the end was a hell of a trip, but they went even farther. The hope that Gramps leaves us with is nice, but it's a fool's hope, especially given that we probably won't revisit this universe. It's nice to see Raveena's progress and Gramps surviving, but there's not much more that's happy from this ending. And that's not bad at all. The book was a success in every conceivable measure. I, for one, couldn't be happier to have paid for all of this and that it exists. Highest possible recommendation.

Book of the week goes to The Private Eye. What an incredible experiment and how lovely to get these results.

Monday, March 16, 2015

comics for the week of 03/11/15.

I heard tons of great stuff about D4VE, so I picked all of them up digitally instead of waiting for the print versions that my friends are getting through IDW. I've also been advised by Dave to check out the Flash TV show and the Season Zero digital comics that coincide with that, so those'll probably be added next week.

All New X-Men 37 - I honestly have no idea what's happening here anymore. Did I miss the conclusion of that story that I didn't like? Where are these guys coming from? That aside, though, this was a solid issue. It's always about the characters, and Jean Grey has always been one of the most rich. And Emma Frost, ever since Morrison, has truly become one. Sure, at times, she's regressed to a one-dimensional being, but most of the time, she's been good since then. And this pairing offers a lot of potential. The art was just different enough to still be good, and the back and forths, not only with Emma and Jean, but also with Jean and the Blob, were solid. Young Jean has a ton of room for growth in this universe.

D4VE 1 & 2 - I'm not sure. It was fun, yeah, but not a lot more than that. I mean, I get that it's just a basic story with the robots as the humans, and there's some great humor in it, but I just don't see it going somewhere that I actually care about. 1 was an interesting premise, 2 didn't follow through much. The idea of the son is a good one, but he's more annoying than anything, and every character basically felt that way in the second issue: the wife got more one-dimensional, the boss was worthless, even D4VE came across as a fat old man trying to relive the flory days.

East of West 18 - Hm, that was different than the ending that I thought I saw coming. I thought Orion was there to take the blind fold off? But clearly that's not the case. As always, I'm a little lost. I loved seeing some of the past, too, though I wasn't really clear on if the bit with Death and Mao was contemporary or not. The kid's going to be the Beast. There's no way around that. It all just depends on how much of the world he truly sees before he fills that role that will tell us how it's going to actually turn out. Beautiful stuff, as always.

New Avengers 31 - Huh. I wonder if this was always the plan? Doom is Rabum Alal? Or if Doom simply saw opportunity, swept in, disposed of Alal and is posing? I don't know. Neither make much sense. But with all these reveals, it's clear that the end of this story is truly coming and that things are going to change in a rather large way. When we first saw Dr. Strange, post-giving up of his soul, it seemed like he hadn't changed much. But here, leading the Black Priests in war against the White Swans (who, ironically, are called Black Ladies by the Priests? That was weird...) and then invading the library, he seems like a totally changed man. This is Strange in a setting and as a character that befits his large stature. The conflicts on Earth have always seemed rather beneath him. If Marvel is going to go bonkers cosmic, this is where he should remain, so he can have some sense of gravitas.

Rachel Rising 32 - Yeah, that was cool. Different. Largely narration. But an interesting approach to an issue. The experiments with the narration boxes were cool. The flash via Rachel was something we've seen before, but it was well done, too. But mostly, I feel like this is set up for some of the LARGER picture. Terry Moore might be showing some ambition again?

Ultimate Spider-Man 11 - Aw man, next issue is the final issue? They really are going to kill the Ultimate Universe? Really? After all this caring about Ganke and Miles' dad and building Dr. Doom into a credibly awesome, totally different version of himself? Poop. I can't believe it. I DON'T believe it. I don't believe they'd spend all this time developing these characters just to throw them away. Whatever the end result of the next big Marvel event (I honestly don't even know what to call it anymore: Battle World? Secret Wars? Crisis on Infinite Marvel Earths?) is, I can't believe that it will result in there being merely one universe in the Marvel Multiverse. I've got to think this, not only because I love this book and these characters, but because they just introduced Spider-Gwen! So, with those frantic shouts, aside, yet another great issue of this series. Miles wakes up in jail, but a HYDRA jail, and he's talked down from his bold threats in a rather mature manner. I wish I saw more interactions go this way. He's smart, he knows. Speaking on that, their ex-roomie knows, too, so either that's going to come into play next issue, or it's merely setting the stage for the next arc of this book - BECAUSE IT'S OBVIOUSLY GOT TO CONTINUE! Katie does her best to make a rational case, but there's no possibility that continues, because Miles knows what HYDRA actually means.

The Walking Dead 138 - Carl Grimes is a little boy who fell in love with the first girl who fucked him. He's stupid, and he's a cliche. We all knew he was going after them. But the community is far more important than any one person, especially Carl, but even Rick or Maggie. I hope they leave him out there to die. I want to focus on Gregory and the two towns and hang out with the people who've made progress for a while. But, honestly, not a bad issue.

Book of the week goes to Ultimate Spider-Man. In a week full of strange surprises or disappointing books, this one stands out for consistently being better than I thought it would be, even when I think it's going to be good.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

comics for the week of 03/04/15.

Daylight Saving Time is about to screw us over all over again.

Angel and Faith 11 - Fun. Not much more. We're digging deep into some of the more mythic backstory that we didn't really care about in the beginning, so I'm not sure why they'd think we care about it now? I mean, Illyria is awesome and all, and Koh was a fun side character, but I'm not compelled by any aspect of this, other than the one that got the brush off: the reunion between Angel and Faith. Plus, with that cover (not just the art, but the text), I thought we were all but assured of some more major stuff! But that's fine. It's a long game.

Avengers 42 - It certainly seems like it's all been building toward this. Geez. The Shi'ar are coming to kill Earth. The Avengers are building Noah's Arc. The evil Reed and the Cabal are going to storm over the Multiverse. And Cyclops...is...up to...something? Good Lord, there's a lot of stuff happening. This was the clearest issue in a while but it still felt like only a puzzle piece. It wasn't bad in any way, but I'm still not sure where this is actually going to take us. I feel like the last three years of the entire Marvel Universe will have to be retroactively judged after 3-4 more years have passed and we've seen the aftermath of Battle Worlds, Secret Wars and whatever's beyond that horizon. If it's a small reboot, that'll work, because the Marvel stories have always had that sliding timeline. But if it's a larger or harder one, that'll be tough to swallow. I look forward to seeing where it's gonna go.

Black Science 12 - That was a lot of fun and I'm glad that I'm not just reading it in trades because this might have been the best single issue of this series so far. The iterations keep coming and I honestly have no idea which version of all of these characters we're actually dealing with, but I don't think I care either. It's great to see the gang together, even if it's splintered from the first issue we saw, because there's obviously larger themes at work here. The only real goodness (at least, that we've not yet seen) from this issue was the revelation (if you can even call it that?) about Rebecca (if that's her name?) and how she's got a double role, just like everyone else.

Hawkeye 1 - This was a nice pick up from the Aja/Fraction book. There's tons of strong thematic connections, but it also does a great job of demonstrating that it'll be its own book. The colors are gorgeous in the flashback sections and the whole feel is right, tonally: he's got hearing problems in the past and the present, his brother is a huge part of his life, his relationship with Kate is complicated, but he's still just mostly concerned with trying to do the right thing. The references to the larger Marvel Universe as a whole feel right, too. It's a lot of fun and I can't see myself skipping it any time soon. But I'm still waiting for the old arc to actually finish. (And for that inevitable hardcover collecting all of it.)

Saga 26 - That was a lot of heartache followed by a last page of terrible heartache. Basically, this book feels like it delights in ripping my heart out. But here's something fun that I noticed: we're basically, at this point, following the adventures of three different (maybe four?) families, all pulled together not by blood but by circumstances. It's an incredible feat and I didn't even see it coming; how BKV managed to get the book to this point this quickly will always be something that astounds me. Obviously the little seal is a great addition, but the adventure with the dragons is turning out great, and we see some superb narration from Hazel cluing us in that the robot resistance fighter is going to have some rather large regrets. It's sooooo good.

Universe 2 - It's 41 pages of goodness from an indie creator on an indie site where you can pay what you want. And while I didn't pay for the first one because I wanted to just try it out as opposed to trusting in BKV and the Private Eye, this one is MORE than worth paying for. Not just to support the afore-mentioned ideas, but because the book was cool! A novel take on an old concept, there's a lot of rich ground for this book, especially if it's going to be this anthology-style approach that we've seen thus far. I loved the idea of that variety of models, and I liked the consistency of travel that we saw from issue 1 to 2. It was clear Alan was to blame when he hopped in that ship but I certainly didn't see quite where it was going. The mall guy was fun, too, not just in the conclusion, but in the introduction most of all.

Book of the week goes to Saga. It's just head and shoulders above everything else.

Monday, March 2, 2015

comics for the week of 02/25/15.

We had some serious snow.

All New X-Men 38 - I don't know how the fuck I ended up in the middle of a crossover with this book, but this is the first time I've actually needed to read one of those recap pages, and let me tell you: this seems ridiculous! Maybe they all always are, but I don't ever read them. I don't need to. And, needing to, this seems crazy. And after reading, here's the verdict: the art was cool. Angel, especially, looks cool in his mutated, Black Vortex form, whatever the hell that is. Beast does not, Gamora was worthless except for exposition, and the X-Babies and the Guardians teaming up doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense. I have to assume I actually missed an issue in this series, even though the checklist in the back says that there were no All New X-Men books before this; it's just so out of left field. And, of course, what's not out of left field is the reunion with Cyclops at the end. So, they'll all be together, I'll have to endure one more issue of this nonsense (hopefully with the same artist, that was some good stuff, seriously) and then where do they go from there? Maybe Battle World? OK. Kind of worthless.

Daredevil 13 - A nice bit of turnabout with all the twists and turns that we've come to expect from this book. Some seriously jacked up foreshadowing when it comes to the Owl and his presence in Matt's life, as well as that nice last page. The Shroud is going to be a big part of the San Francisco adventures, huh? And Kirsten is getting to spend a lot of time setting up how capable she is, I hope it's not just prelude for her getting the axe (metaphorically or literally). She's a great supporting character and even if she's not Matt's girlfriend, she has potential to stick around for a while, just like Foggy has.

New Avengers 30 - It's too crazy, but at least Hickman explicitly acknowledges that in his narration. I mean, I know it's setting up literally everything that's coming, but damn. Hank tells the story of how the Beyonders are destroying the Multiverse and are killing not only the Gods, not only the Celestials, but the Multiverse itself. So...that's a big deal. Past that? I don't know. I'll have to wait until Secret Wars, try to understand it and then wrap my brain around the fallout. This is all prelude.

Spider-Gwen 1 - So, it starts off great, with cameos from the Vulture, Ben Grimm, the Hamburgler, Foggy Nelson, Frank Castle,and a reference to Yeezy! The art is cool, the story is cool insofar as taking place in another universe and referencing Spider-Verse. But other than that, there's not a lot of substance. It's a cool start, I'm glad to see the echo of Spider-Man with the Vulture as an enemy, but beyond the cute nods. I'm happy to be getting it, and I'm happy it's coming out (as per the end page) but I hope it does something real.

Book of the week goes to Daredevil.

Monday, February 23, 2015

comics for the week of 02/18/15.

If winter is coming, we can't tell in ABQ.

Buffy 12 - Happy with the Spike and Buffy story, unhappy with literally everything else in this issue. The art is just not a fit. And the section with Andrew was confusing in every little way. He's only comfortable being gay when he's a huge superhero, prone to over-explaining everything in dialogue, just like he's one of Sweet's wooden puppets? That's a bad look for a character who deserves more respect than he gets. The Xander/Dawn relationship is coming alone nicely, I like that we can see the little, natural things. But Giles is being played up too much as a kid (WE GET IT) and Willow got no shine at all in this whole issue. Obviously, Spike's dream is not just a dream, so this is going to go some interesting places, but I hate that Buffy doesn't get a chance just to honestly be happy and have some complication-free romance. I know that's a part of what drives the story, but... We'll see where it goes from here.

Fables 149 - I'll be honest: I wanted more from this issue. But I guess they're saving everything for the end. It looks like we got an end to the Brandish/Lancelot duel, but I hope that's not actually it. We see Rose's backstory finally fully fleshed out, and we see those evil urges appear to totally take her over. We get Boy Blue playing the ace up the sleeve role, and we see Snow preparing for the end. But really, everything is coming down to the next issue and that's all there is to it.

Invincible 117 - Certainly an interesting issue, but I didn't really care for the name of the baby. I get the motivation and I get how some people will think it's cute, but it wasn't for me. Other than that, though, we got a lot of really solid characterization of some cool folks. Mark and Eve saying goodbye was taken differently, depending on who they were telling and what reasons (i.e. how truthful they were being) were given; that's a sign of good variety. The interactions with his parents and her parents, while a bit thin on her part (as usual, they're just stereotypes, but it's not horrible) were cool to see, too. I'm intrigued by the idea that they might stay out in space for a while, though, too. We'll see if that happens.

Multiversity: The Mastermen 1 - Well that was the weirdest and the worst of the Multiversity titles thus far. Lee's art was awful, even when it was good, and Morrison seemed unable to connect this story to the rest of the larger themes. Maybe I'll look back when it's all done and have more of an appreciation, but for now I think it was a complete waste of time.

Ultimate Spider-Man 10 - It was so playful! The whole time! Not just the Spidey-villains dialogue. Not just the Spidey-Cloak and Dagger dialogue. Not just the cool, adult conversation at the beginning that was still lovely playful. Not just awesome Ganke (WHO MUST BE SAVED IF THE ULTIMATE UNIVERSE IS DOOMED! HE MUST BE!) not being embarrassed and giving Miles good advice. But the WHOLE ISSUE. Until the end. Where it turned super serious, super quickly. Man. That was awesome. It's just nice to have an issue where it feels like things are fun and playful and still have it mean quite a bit. I'm curious to see if Katie is a spy or just not a true believer, but it certainly seems like my theory about her dad maybe being undercover is shot to hell at this point. Which I'm cool with. It's giving us some awesome lines. I just wish we had more time here. It definitely seems like we don't. Which is a bummer. There's so many good things about this line and this book in particular.

Book of the week goes to Ultimate Spider-Man. In a week full of weak issues, I was surprised by this, but the books that I thought were going to kill just kinda sputtered while Miles got to have a lot of fun.

Monday, February 16, 2015

comics for the week of 02/11/15.

Drake dropped a new mixtape and it's NBA All-Star Weekend. Times are good.

All New X-Men 36 - Well, that was fun and I'm happy we got to see it, but it really does feel like we're just kind of in this place holder style with most of the Marvel books at this point. I don't want to see young Hank McCoy become some kind of evil guy, twisted by Bendis into the mea culpa for this whole mess. It certainly seems like that's where the cliffhanger is leading, but there was so much good to the issue: Miles getting his kiss, the good guys beating Doom, blowing up the castle, the alternate realities (esp. the one with Apocalypse and his horsemen!) and the resolution of a new mutant who conveniently opens up holes to new dimensions right about the time that they're all supposed to be going away. We'll see what happens with her.

Rachel Rising 31 - We're always getting hints about some rather large big bad in this series, but this issue seemed to be the most conclusive in presenting the case that maybe it's Zoe the story is actually about. I mean, Rachel seems like she's going to be a weapon, at best, to use against him? Aunt Johnny's out on the case and there are some smaller bads lurking as well, unless they're all tied together, which is obviously totally possible, given the nature of this book. Another cool issue.

Thor 5 - I love when comic creators address the criticism head on, which is definitely what the first five (ish) pages of this issue felt like. I mean, some of Titania's words were exactly what we heard from fanboys before the series debuted, verbatim. That being said, I'm not sure she'd just lay down for Thor. No matter what. But after that cool intro, we had ourselves a wacky as hell issue. I mean, Odin looks like he's losing his mind. Honestly. There's no rhyme or reason to his being this frivolous nor to his fearsome dedication to tasks that are, in reality, beneath him. Also, I know the story obviously demands it, but to dampen his omnipotence and his runes (and all the other methods) seems to be a poor step to take in servicing the story - just change the story slightly! The real enemy here seems to be some malevolent presence in the All-Father's head, because he's certainly not himself and that's going to be the big bad that's gonna come back to bite everyone. Other than that, the discussion between Sif and Odinson was all right, but the discussion between the All-Mother and Thor was way better. Good stuff. I want to find out who she is.

The Walking Dead 137 - So, Jesus is smart, Maggie is not as careful as she should be, and Carl's gonna get deflowered by some freaky bitch. Man, that girl is weird. Seriously. I mean, it's not just been this issue. Every time she's spoken, she's said things that are seriously jacked up and the adults are responding the way they should be, but Carl is acting like he's a little kid. (Which, I guess, he can be, certainly if hormones are affecting him, but...) It feels like I say this with every issue of TWD but I'm excited for next issue. I want to see something really happen, though.

Book of the week goes to Thor. Even a filler artist can't dampen the shine on this series.

Monday, February 9, 2015

comics for the week of 02/04/15.

It's a bummer that Hawkeye's gotta go. But it's clearly beyond Aja and Fraction's scope now.

Angel & Faith 11 - There are a lot of people converging in this issue. I'd even forgotten what had happened last issue, but Fred re-appearing, Faith coming back home, reuniting with Nadira and Angel, and Koh even making his cameo... This is good. The bar scenes are beautifully pencilled and I love the look of this book in general. However, for all of the goodness, it really did feel like setting up the pieces/filler. There's nothing wrong with that, and I'm sure it'll turn out in the long run, but for now, I'm impatient for more.

Avengers 41 - Well. That's a heck of a turn. Man, evil Ultimate Universe Reed has got to be one of the best new characters of the last ten years (if he counts as that) right? Geez. He's horrible. And now he's got a crew? This Secret Wars/Battleworld shit is shaping up to be amazing. Seriously. It's a crazily extended prologue, but hopefully when we get to the real action, it's time for some serious roll.

East of West 17 - That was great. I like it better when we get fewer stories in this book so we can spend a little more time on them. (And I guess that'll always be the case now, since there's fewer stories to tell? But it doesn't actually seem like there are. For every one story we lose, we're picking up a new thread.) The sections with Babylon and Death were each great, and the Kingdom and the Confederacy felt nicely linked. I really like what's happening with the convergence, but I can't wait to see how they're going to pull the curtain back for the kid. Maybe they won't, and we'll just get the prescribed story.

Hawkeye 21 - I knew this was going to be good (they all have been and I can't wait to buy the inevitable hardcover of this run) but I didn't know it was going to be this good and I didn't know I was going to gasp loudly. Everything that made this book great was here, including the pencils, the bros, the dialogue beyond just the bros, the paneling, the clear acknowledgement of Clint's deafness and his horrible relationship history, and the nice surprise, both in the middle with those great panels of the crazy guy's mom, and the very last image of Pizza Dog. It's all coming to a head next month (hopefully) and I'm confident they'll stick the landing. But more importantly, I want that hardcover, and I want to stick around to see if Lemire can do something cool but different. I hope Hawkeye still gets to have a cool book, even if it'll never be this again. Barney.

Saga 25 - Well, this was, by far, the weirdest issue of this series we've received. That's not to say it was bad, but there was a lot of narration and more than a few subplots are starting. There's some incredible things being down with Hazel's narration, especially insofar as her getting out spoilers and setting up expectations, but too much exposition can bog things down. Also, Marko looks great with a beard and the variety of team-ups that are happening now are incredible. The way the core crew has been split up and yet remain on this parallel journey is rather inspired storytelling. The only bit we didn't get was the reporters in this issue, but I have a feeling they'll make an appearance soon.

Wytches 4 - That ending, thoooooooooough. I should have known it was coming, but I was so caught up in the current action and the awesome flashback that I forgot about it. Man. Hope Sailor gets out soon so they can all be reunited before everyone forgets. Then they've gotta get to a place without trees, find the Irons family, and burn down the whole fucking town. Yup. Sounds like a plan. Another solid entry.

Book of the week goes to Hawkeye. Heck of a comic right there.