SDCC weekend is a weird time to be a comic book fan, especially if you're not there. It's weird because you hear all kinds of news about things that you don't think that other people really care about, and mostly you see these images of people who you never see in the comic book stores. I like the fact that comics are popular nowadays. But it definitely still trips me out every once in a while.
Batman 11 - This is, unfortunately, the worst book in the new Batman run. The resolution of the brother issue is the worst kind of comic book dodge, the art was fantastically below what it has been in the past, and the whole story reeked of half-drawn conclusions. I'm still overwhelmingly happy with Scott Snyder as a writer, but that happiness comes, in large part, from Swamp Thing these days, as opposed to Batman. Maybe it's the pall of Dark Knight Rises, but this Batman is just not hitting the spot like it used to. The whole fight with Lincoln felt contrived and the ending was wretched; literally something we've seen time after time in the past. The best thing is that it's over, but I don't have the confidence that I used to.
Before Watchmen: Minutemen 2 - Wow. Now this was on some Watchmen shit. Darwyn Cooke is telling the best of the BW tales, there can be no doubt about it anymore. The other books have bounced between great (this one and Ozymandias, mainly for art) middling (the Silk Spectre, which is fun, but hard to justify its existence) and outright bad (neither the Comedian nor the Nite Owl series seem like they are going to get any better, either, which is sad). But with this issue, Minutemen leaps to the head of the class. The focus on the Comedian is probably what gets the gold star here, but the real coup is how rotten we can already see that Eddie Blake is. Terrible? Yes. But honest? Hell yes. This is the only one that seems to justify its own existence fully, and the ending, with the ambiguity of what's happening is a step in the right direction. People who are attracted to the Watchmen brand don't need things spelled out so literally for them and I hope there's more where this has come from.
Buffy 11 - This book is getting better, it's getting back on track after the atrocity of the pregnancy-abortion-robot debacle. It's still not better than Angel and Faith, which I finally read but am not going to break down. But it's getting back on track. It's weird to think that, with Spike out of the picture and the time-wasting robot storyline out of the way, we might finally have something worthwhile being told here. We might be building to an actual story. And what it looks like it's going to be is...a revisitation from Wolfram and Hart?? Really? I don't know. I loved the aspect of Buffy moving on from blindly jumping everywhere she seemed to be needed as a Slayer. I loved the inclusion of Kennedy as a voice of reason. I loved the direction of the ex-Slayers and what they're doing under Kennedy's guide. But...Wolfram and Hart?? Here's to hoping they're not going to be hilariously misused as they were in the last season of Angel, or in his IDW comic.
Resurrection Man 11 - This story needs to be wrapped up. It's awesome that they tried it out, but it's also clear that there's no backing for this kind of storytelling at the DCnU. Sure, the book's getting cancelled. I know that. So, yeah, it's got to wrap up. But damn. They could have kept going if they were really committed to it. But they're not. They just want to have 52 books a month, for some odd reason. So, we'll get some conclusion involving Mitch being a bad guy before, but finding out that he's a hero, and he'll get some redemption. Too bad DC wants to pretend that everything's part of some grand narrative, though, otherwise we could have some really fun one-off stories being told in this corner of the Universe. Getting to the Lab, the presence of Soder Cola, the return of the Body Doubles and the Transhuman are all the hallmarks of a quirky little book that could be fun. Instead, it's just rushing to get itself over and done with. Sad.
Spider-Men 3 - Bendis is continuing to make this book his baby. The hesitation of the first issue is a distant memory and Pichelli's art has picked up three or four notches. The fights that Mysterio puts Peter and Miles through are cool, if not very engaging. There's never a worry that anything terrible is actually going to happen from these fights, so there's not a lot of impetus to care too much. However, at the end, as Peter tries to figure out more about the Ultimate Universe and his place in it, the cliffhanger really, truly delivers. The way that we knew issue 2 was going to be great after we got the preliminaries of issue 1 out of the way is the same way I feel now: getting to see May and Gwen react to Peter - because this is REALLY Peter - is going to be incredible.
Swamp Thing 11 - Like I said above, in regards to Batman, I've got tons of faith in Scott Snyder, but the change in artist really hurt this book. This might have been the worst of the new line for Swampy, too, except for the tight integration of so many other plot lines coming together. Arcane is kind of defeated, Abby seems like she's got her evil side under control and Swamp Thing is finally in a good place, having been proved right to try to restart the Parliament of Trees. The ending, with Buddy Baker showing up will be nice to have this story bouncing back and forth between two capable writers like Lemire and Snyder, but the art was really, truly just awful in this book. It's my hope that Paquette can get back as quickly as possible, otherwise I'm not sure how much better the writing will have to get to compensate.
Ultimate X-Men 14 - Part one of "Divided We Fall" finds the kids on the road, trying to make it to the West Coast, or the Southwest, and inspire people to fight back, or to free mutants, or...something...? This was an all right start to what should be a great crossover. I wish it had come out the gate a little more strongly, and that I could brag more thoroughly about it, but it wasn't fantastic. The art, by Paco Medina, was, of course, gorgeous. But...other than that great art, there wasn't a lot happening in this book. The X kids leave Johnny Storm behind in the Morlock tunnels, which seems like it's not going to work out well and they're on their way to...go do something. This first part of the crossover not really getting anything actually done, but only setting things up is getting a little bit old. Let's have the next part, please.
Wolverine and the X-Men 13 - Enh. More of the same. Great art with a subpar story. This one, at least, I'm willing to admit, was more because of my bias and less because nothing happened. Plenty actually happened, with lots of great development of the Deathbird character and Gladiator getting his ass kicked, but I'm just not huge into the space aspects of the X story. I know with the AvsX storyline happening and the Phoenix coming in, though, they're unavoidable at this point. So, if we're forced to have these stories, at least they get to be pretty and give us cool developments of characters that have been underutilized thus far. AvX is killing Wolvie and the X-Men, so let's get off this soon, please.
Book of the week goes to Before Watchmen: Minutemen 2. There were some really, really weird books this week, and that's not to say that BW didn't deserve it, but some of the books that I've come to expect greatness from were merely mortal this go 'round. More power to Minutemen for filling that hole.