Monday, April 29, 2013

comics for the week of 04/24/13.

Holy moly. What a huge week. There were some amazing things out here, too, but let's talk, just for a second, about the movies that are reigning over everything else at the box office recently. If you look at the big movie picture, the nerds have definitely won. Comic book movies are franchises unto themselves. The most exciting thing is that they keep getting better. It's a great time to be a nerd.

Angel and Faith 21 - A great nod to the fact that Dawn's fading from existence and her magic is running out opens up this issue and gets the ball rolling to get Spike back over to the mainline book. Plus, Angel's got all the pieces to get Giles back to the mortal coil. All he needs is just a tiny bit of magic. Well, after a bit of back and forth, he gets it, and the gang begins their final quest. The only problem (at least insofar as this issue, ignoring the possible HUGE repercussions that they'll have to face next issue, if something has really gone wrong?) is that the bad guys finally find Aldasair's home and make off with his massive collection of magical items. So, you know, that's pretty bad. Especially since Whistler isn't exactly aiming low. He's going to do some real harm with these things and if Giles is truly back, he's going to be disappointed in all involved that they didn't do a better job keeping those baddies away from the treasure trove. I've gotta say, I love the way these books are wrapping up and I fully expect Giles to be back in the course of the finish. It's shaping up to be a good little season, and, at least in my opinion, a great path to a new future in Season 10.

Avengers 10 - This is a truly odd book. I don't feel like I'm ever close to getting the full picture, but I do feel like it's worthwhile almost all the time. This is one of those times. Here we got some Alpha Flight, some Canada, some Department H, some alternate futures, and some suicide. It was awesome. But I definitely don't understand most of it. A guy in Department H has a daughter and she's Validator and she goes into the contaminated zone and she gets infected, but then it turns out that maybe that's a good thing? And the Canadian government has nukes and Logan knew it, and Bruce Banner goes with them, and they get fucked up (no surprise) and they come back and they lie to SHIELD and the Canadian government? OK, so far so good. But there's also the question of the system and the fact that it's now online and the massive crop circle (or not so croppy, but whatever) and the ongoing dilemma of what the eff is happening worldwide when the Avengers, with their huge, expanded circle, can't even figure it out, much less solve it. Chalk this one up to another solid issue of Hickman kicking ass and, don't forget to mention, Deodato doing way better than I expected him to.

Before Watchmen: Comedian 6 - Woooow. This was a complete shit show and I don't even want to talk about it. For as terrible as the rest of the books in this series were, this one really takes the cake. This was a disasterous mess, it's an insult to the original Watchmen book and to the character of the Comedian. (Also, in general, modern political history.) Stay away.

BPRD: Vampire 2 - Couldn't find it, will review it next week.

Invincible 102 - One of my favorite scenes from Powers (and one of the reasons I still kind of stand by what it's become) is when Calista comes to get Walker, when he doesn't have powers, and picks him up and flies with him, and he's trying to yell at her the whole time, and when she finally lands, he explains to her that she can't just do that. Normal people can't breathe when they're moving so fast, in such an unexpected way and that she could have killed him. It was such a humanizing moment, such a common sense thing, but I'd never seen it before and I was delighted to get to see it then. The beginning of this issue felt a lot like that scene: to see the terror on Nolan's face as he realized that his wife was being sucked out into the vacuum of space, to see that she was already having trouble, was genuine and refreshing. He can survive a battle with Thragg. He can take his time and really get into it with him. But there's so much more at stake. The focus on this issue is solidly on the human aspect, which is weird, since almost everyone in the issue (Eve and a briefbriefbrief cameo from Cecil aside) is an alien. But it just goes to show that humanity is not limited to humans. It's a great issue, with lots of good revelations that we've had clues about for a while. The ending is tinged with that weird bit of suspicion that we always feel when something so truly strange happens, but it's immediately righted with a bit of happy news that comes from out of nowhere, but is completely expected at the same time. Another solid issue from Kirkman and company.

Jupiter's Legacy 1 - Yep. That was cool. Quitely does good things with pencils and Millar doesn't go overboard with stupid shit. That's about as good as I expected it to get, but it was even cooler - nice premise, good follow-through. Now let's just see that they don't bollocks it right up, huh? So far so good: There's good guys, they went to a crazy place to get powers because a crazy guy dreamt that they could, they saved everything, but now we live in the world we live in and their kids were born with gnarly expectations. Things are going to get crazy. I like it so far.

Mind MGMT 10 - Another fantastic issue from Matt Kindt. This issue reminds me of the beginning of Rising Stars where we saw a neat method (obvious in retrospect, in the way that the best things make happen) for killing someone who can't be hurt. Here we are presented with the dilemma: How are the gang going to surprise someone who can see the future? Well, turns out, he can't see the future. He can just read all the things happening around him and make the most likely conclusion. That's an important difference and, while it worked to their benefit here, to intercept him, I think it's worth keeping in mind later, when he's on their side and they're relying on his abilities. They've already proved that he's not infallible and it's imperative that someone on their side recognize the distinction: there's no telling the future. There's just the ability to make predictions that are most likely. Again, the sidebars told an important aspect of the story, beginning with his ability to read everyone (and everything) around him. Then we continued the murder mystery story, and Duncan revealed more than ever before that Lyme and Meru have some very complicated secrets in their shared past. This book is never boring and always excels. It's almost hard to compare any other comics to it (maybe other than Saga) because it honestly feels like it's just operating at another level. The art, again, was superb, perfect in that sparse style that fits the story so appropriately. The fact that all of these characters have been shown to be real people, with actual histories is even better.

New Avengers 5 - First of all, I just want to note that Reed Richards' descriptor on the page listing the Illuminati is "Universal Builder" and that there's a HUGE storyline happening over in regular Avengers involving Builders and their Code. If it turns out to be nothing but a coincidence, I'll be shocked. Hickman is too good. So, for now, onto the book itself. We get to see that the Illuminati conquered Terrax on the other Earth and that they didn't leave one of their own behind - presumably because they didn't have time to grab the Infinity Gems and build another glove? Presumably because that world was already dying? There was no point? It's not explained, but they're back, they have Terrax and they let out the Black Swan to tell them a story. And what a story she tells: "All I have, all I have ever known, are scary stories. And they are real." A lot of the stories I've been reading lately, at least in my eyes, have had a heck of a religious bent, and, even more importantly, have stressed the power of stories themselves. And when this story ends, we're going to, hopefully, see some huge changes in the Marvel Universe. These guys simply cannot continue on the path they've set themselves on. They're going too far, getting in too deep, people are going to find out and they're going to have a serious problem. And it's going to be more than just a Captain America, whom they can simply mind wipe. (Add that to the list of things they're going to get in serious trouble for, BTW.) For now, though, the issue ends with the problem of yet another incursion occurring, this one in Latveria. That's going to present quite the problem. But, there was mention of at least eight ways to stop the incursions. I don't think this means they stop the incursions at all, for what it's worth, but rather, that they dodge them. None of these paths are going to accomplish what any member of the Illuminati wants, because that is to win. To end it. The (at least) 8 paths are ways of avoiding the problem. None of them will be satisfied with that.

Rachel Rising 16 - Oh man, this story is really messed up. I feel like it's obviously continuing to build, which is awesome, but I'm also understanding more of the overall arc now, too. It's getting really good, and I could see it going on much, much longer than I originally anticipated. Here we get to see Rachel, Jet and Aunt Johnny getting together to compare notes, which is super realistic and I wish would happen in more plots. People usually don't just walk blindly into their fates. On the other hand, we have Lilith initiating some sort of change, while her underlings watch her burn herself - presumably not to death. Finally, we have Zoe, looking for refuge from the world, hiding in a church, but finding herself in the worst possible place, with a freaky priest who ties up a ram, waiting for the sacrifice to happen. He delights when it does, of course, but his co-worker isn't nearly as pleased with what he sees - which means he's got a price to pay. There are a lot of pieces at play in this work, and we're only starting to really get to any kind of understanding with them, but I'm loving the scale and the fact that each issue seems to matter now. Earlier, this title was a bit scattered, but now that we've got some sense of the scope, I feel like it's really got its feet.

Ultimate Spider-Man 22 - This issue started poorly, had some great sequences in the middle and then finished in a manner that I just know is going to piss some people off, especially with the homage cover that we got previewed for next month. Here's the thing: I don't mind the re-treading of ground covered in the 616 Universe. But it's got to be a little bit more. I don't understand the point of doing the same things just to do the same things. And this is a criticism that my buddy Dave leveled against this title a while ago and I defended it. But now? This feels tired. I like that it seemed like his mom knew even before that. I like that Maria Hill urges Miles to do the right thing, regardless of her later intent. I like the fact that Venom turned out to be some dude that we didn't know and not just another callback to Peter Parker - although the fact that he was a Roxxon employee and that we get to see Roxxon himself again bodes poorly for that idea. But what I didn't like is the fact that we're now doubling down on the tragedy that Miles is facing but none of it is unique in any way. I get that all stories are derivative in some manner or another, but this felt a bit cheap. I didn't even tear up at the end, either, when Miles woke up and had his slow realization, because the moment was pounded over the head with the melodrama of him tearing up his costume. The good things about this issue was that Gwen and MJ moved into more solid supporting character status, as opposed to one-note generics, but that was about it.

Unwritten 48 - So, Pauly's an even bigger asshole than we thought. And Tom remembers. And Lizzie is exactly where we thought she'd be. And the kids come back at the right moment to save Tom. But....then we go through the portal and we end up...in a different land of the dead? (What is this, Journey into Mystery?) Wilson's down in Hades, being tortured by Pauly, so I think we'll probably need to pick him up before we all leave. But that's a problem for the future. For now we're going to have to face off against the Devil (an appropriate visage for Pullman to take) with God's favorite pet or toy. (Again, appropriate.) This book is getting deeper and deeper and while I loved the beginning of this Orpheus tale, this one wandered a bit more than I thought it would. For containing so many revelations, it felt a bit flat. Don't get me wrong, it's still head and shoulders above the vast majority of the superhero books. But when you're expecting solid gold, even silver feels a bit off.

Wolverine and the X-Men 22 - Well, at least the conclusion had some cool notes to offer us. The story of Dog and his intrusion on the instruction of the students at the Jean Grey School is over. Thank God. Now, it looks like next issue, we're going to peek into the future. Future + X-Men usually equals a good time, so I'm excited for that. Insofar as this one, though, we got to see Quire near what he could be if he wasn't focused all the time on being such a jerk. We saw Glob reveal his true colors (and we saw that he's a true idiot - can't wait to see Sauron eat him). We saw Idie and Broo, still making a cute couple, in that weird way of theirs. And we saw Dog...maybe learn a lesson? Maybe mature? But then he still just bailed via time travel, and he was getting beat up by someone who...looked like his own future self? He's a pretty worthless character if this is all he's going to do, and that's a shame, because Origin still holds a lot of potential. I'm still not a fan of Perez on this book, but I like the fact that Jason Aaron is so comfortable with the character of Wolverine and uses his to narrate so much of the happenings. Here's to hoping this will improve with the next arc.

Young Avengers 4 - Oh. My. God. After the magnificence of that page in Daredevil, I didn't think I'd be so obviously drooling over another one so soon. But this double page spread that shows Noh-Varr making his way into the club is broken down into so many good parts. The architect-like plans. The corners of detail. The sparse wording, both from the narrator-position, as well as his own interior monologue, detailing his time with Hawkguy. The inclusion of more music. This is amazing. The fact that it concludes (not the issue, but rather just the brief sequence) with his homage to the Terminator is just a superb bonus. Then we get the dialogue, the faking it of Noh-Varr, the Kirby engines, and the interlude with real Cap and Thor. It's just amazing. But then we get to the real dilemma. The problem in this book was never going to be the shape-shifting bad guys - the good team always wins against them. But when we've got Loki, even the kid version, involved, we're going to have some serious wordplay. And here, in talking with the improbably dashing prince, he plants the seeds of doubt that he's so renowned for. Once he's done that, it's only a matter of time before things start going his way. For what it's worth, I'm not so worried about the cliffhanger, because this book's got to last a long, long, long time, and Kid Loki's got to be a huge part of it. So he's going to be back next issue and they're all going to defeat the bad guys, but even in their victory, no matter how total it is, those seeds of doubt are there, and they're going to play all kinds of wonderful havoc with the dynamics of this team. God, this book is so good.

Book of the week goes to Mind MGMT, but Young Avengers was so much fun it deserves a nod. Hard to compete with chess-players, though, if you're only playing checkers. Matt Kindt is serving up a clinic.

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