Monday, August 25, 2014

comics for the week of 08/20/14.

With Labor Day coming up it feels like summer is officially over, not only for NM teachers, but for the whole country. That being said, I think Guardians of the Galaxy "won" summer and Boyhood won best movie of the year. But the year's not over.

Buffy 6 - A fine issue, but the poor art really had a bad effect on me. I feel like we've been through this exact same idea before, but I'm fine with that, because the dynamic has changed significantly. Giles as the weak link is a new dimension, so I'll like seeing where that goes. The idea of San Francisco rents rising is a real one so it's cool that this got included. However, the bad art was really serious. I was glad to read in the letters page that the regular team will be back.

Daredevil 7 - Although it read during the statistics scene like a bit of an after school special, I was happy with the turn. We've seen it before, sure, (notably in an early aughts/late 90s run of Impulse?) but that doesn't mean it's not a good one. I'd love if Maggie and Matt developed a closer relationship, too, that'd be a neat dynamic. However, my only beef is that Wakanda sure seems to be making a lot of enemies lately. I can't imagine that T'Challa's sister will think too kindly of Daredevil from here forward after his little stunt in her throne room. All's well that ends well, next issue we get to escape the blasted confines of crossover territory and get back to what Waid and Samnee do best: making Daredevil fun again.

Fables 143 - Oh man, Mrs. Dark. This is getting seriously bad for almost everyone. Fables as a title and a story is definitely ending. The way Weyland goes out (if it's truly the end for him) raised my heart rate and definitely evoked the feels. The upcoming battle between Rose and White, as I've mentioned before, feels perfectly circular, but no less tragic. I'm going to be seriously bummed if Rose (or White, I suppose) has to die to complete the cyclical nature of this story. Meanwhile, the story of the magicians gang and the intersection of Fabletown and NYC is getting going. And, of course, Beauty and the Beast get their moment to shine. I love how his curse transferred to their baby and how he's still got his part to play. (I know I skipped over the bird and the post-script, but...)

Multiversity 1 - Yeahhhhhh...that was fucking weird. I don't really know what I'm going to think about the whole thing, but it was typically kooky Morrison in the best way. Things are insane, they feel like a purposefully 70s-inspired, drug-fueled manic romp through the winding Multiverse. I'm happy Morrison is getting to do what he wants to do, but I feel like it's going to be exactly what I said earlier: an awesome time that ultimately has no effect on the comics themselves. It was awesome, don't get me wrong, but...I feel bad for Morrison at this point. I feel like he might be a masochist.

New Avengers 23 - Well isn't that just exactly sticking the landing? Man. For a while, this book was completely lost, but it's definitely found its fit and its tone. I'm digging the mirroring, obviously, but there was so much more to it. From Wong's simple no, to the way my heart actually started beating faster as the Incursion was getting closer and closer. I've been reading comics for more than two decades at this point, and I knew nothing was going to happen, but I could still suspend my disbelief enough to think that something might. Now that's power. It was great to see Beast with a book (after confiding in himself, hah!) and Tony beating alcohol. Black Bolt's scream was primal and Bruce's reaction was more like mine would be. But unmentioned and conspicuously missing? Strange. I'm glad we got to see the family of Reed, and good for him for knowing sign language (good on Marvel, too!) and while I understand the fight just happened with Namor, it should still be a big deal that Stephen's missing, too. I have a feeling that's for later, though.

Trees 4 - Uh, I don't get it. It's too few and far between with too little concrete plot. I like it, but I just can't hang with it at this point. I'll happily read it in trade and I'll continue to recommend it to people, but I just feel like, at this point, that it's not for me.

Unwritten: Apocalypse 8 - Man. It's perfect. And it's so close to ending. But there's two chapters left and everyone's got a part to play. Next issue we'll have the Wilson showcase (and presumably some Savoy) and then the final will go to Tom (and presumably Pullman and some Lizzie action). Here we get Tom finding the grail, which apparently can be in multiple forms at one time, which will lead to some truly interesting results when it comes to the end and who's using those tools at the same time. I loved the background when Tom entered the church (?) of all the wooden puppets. There's also the angle of Rausch and how she's going to play into the endgame. I think there's obviously quite a bit of thread to spool out here and I couldn't be more excited.

The Wicked and the Divine 3 - Yep. It's pretty. And I'm no longer interested in it. Way too much self-indulgence. Not for me.

Book of the week goes to Unwritten.

Monday, August 18, 2014

comics for the week of 08/13/14.

I thought we'd get some real answers in the penultimate issue of the Original Sin mini-series, but I guess that's not how things work anymore. It was all right.

All New X-Men 30 - Yeah, that was all right. We're really getting into kind of murky, treacherous territory here, when it comes to layers. (I mean, I guess since we're talking about the X-Men, we've been there for decades, so maybe it's just me getting older...) I get that it's quirky and different to have Jean Grey and Emma Frost be friends, but that doesn't feel like a good enough reason for that to be the primary driving force of this issue. On the other hand, X-23 and Angel's story was refreshing. I like the meta aspect of them taking a break and their part feeling so much more real than the various soap opera drama with young Iceman, Beast and Jean hanging out with Professor Kitty and the White Queen and her goons. (Don't get me started on the romance angle feeling less cliche. I'm already depressing myself with this review.) But the next issue box has me semi-excited so we'll see if this title can revive itself.

Rachel Rising 27 - There's a lot happening here, but let's start with the fun: Jeff gets killed! (Shoutout and the back page explanation for letting me have such a ridiculous sentence.) But this is obviously bad news for Zoe, as well as Rachel and Jet, who are totally unaware of their little friend's ongoing activities. It's not like they don't know she's trouble. They joke about her previous kills. But this seems to be particularly dangerous and too close to home. They need to stay on their feet. Of course, there's plenty of other great stuff in the book, including a pep talk from Johnny to Earl about Jet, Johnny's playing detective, and her interactions with the cop and a peek into Rachel's insensitivity. She's worked with this guy for how long and Zoe gets all that personal information out of him in the first minute of their first encounter. Ray is a nice addition to the supporting cast, I'm hopeful that he gets to stick around for more than a minute.

Sex Criminals 7 - Man. This book is so weird and kinda good, but almost definitely makes me feel dirty. I do feel like it's a true effort to subvert that old paradigm, though, so it's not like it's without merit. Obviously. This issue doesn't go where I thought it would, based on the relationship deteriorating as we'd seen in the past, but I'm happy Rachel's back. Jon's depression leads him to do some bad, bad things, and we see some of his childhood which explains a lot of why he is the way he is. Shit, if I had those powers, I would have been way worse. (I kind of hope that's something all guy readers of this book relate to, otherwise I'm just a horrible person?) The art, as always, is gorgeous, and the nods in the backgrounds are more than chuckle-worthy. Also, the over the top nature of the nature of sex is halfway between gross and hilarious.

The Walking Dead 130 - Huh. Well that's cool. I love how Rick's legend is growing so large and how uncomfortable with it he is. I love his justification for the haircut and the beard. I especially loved the newbies' dismissal of Negan's bullshit. But there's some long term stuff here, too. I like Carl's discomfort with the other apprentice but it's clear they're both going to stay on. I like Maggie having her own place and being a big boss - she's earned it. I like the fact that the newbies got their few panels to shine but not much more, so we have their story still on the backburner. I like how much confidence the girl had when she said she knew when someone was lying. But of course, the moneymaker is the new development with the dead. That'll be great if it holds up. If it turns out to be a red herring, it'll be quite disastrous for Kirkman, at least insofar as my nerd group's confidence in his ability to turn the story up a notch. If he stays with it, though... could be a game changer. I like it.

Book of the week goes to The Walking Dead. Purely on potential, though. If it doesn't follow through, I'll have problems.

Monday, August 11, 2014

comics for the week of 08/06/14.

Go see Guardians again.

Angel and Faith 5 - A nice bit of tying between the two titles made me curious as to why this was such a mystery, but it was laid out nicely on the last page; of course they're not talking - that would make far too much sense. I mean, we've seen where sharing information can lead. Jokes aside, it was another solid issue. I like the involvement of the aunts in this title, but to get no Faith at all was quite a change. Are we just going to bounce back and forth until they (inevitably) reconcile? Dunno, but I'm along for the ride. It's fun seeing Angel in London, playing with the new Magic Town issues, and working with the police.

Invincible 113 - Yes, this book is incredible once again, over and over, month in and month out. Robot working with the Viltrumites feels like a short-term move: he might be authentic for now, but he cannot possibly let them live for long. And most of them have got to be smart enough to see that, too. So any alliance has got to be played from both sides for temporary gains as quickly as possible. Because, unfortunately, Rex has the time table in his favor right now. Despite showing cracks in the armor as he tries to take over the world, it certainly looks like he's succeeding. He's meeting with the President and while we haven't seen the death of any major characters (the Martian guy and my horrible memory inevitably failing aside...) we've seen plenty of blood, death and gore. The key players have made it out, but not all unscathed, and it's going to be a heck of an uphill battle, no matter how the alliances (temporary as they may be) turn out. More importantly, though, we've got two joyous occasions in this issue: Eve has the baby, the baby's safe and Eve's safe, the couple are staying together and she encourages Mark to get back in the fight. Most importantly, though: we have an excellent chance at a superhero baby with the name Dick Grayson! I know, I know, she's a girl. But how great would that be?

New Avengers 22 - Well, the art was terrible, and the conclusion was inevitable, but it didn't have to feel quite so flat, did it? I just feel like...where do we go from here? After the apex of last issue and the contrast provided by Namor's realism versus the heroes' idealism, it felt like more of the same, with that one huge caveat: Namor is clearly going to be a flat out bad guy from here on out and Black Panther is always going to be on his case. That's a good development, but I don't feel like it needed an entire series almost exclusively dedicated to getting to this point. If we're gong to build them up just to break them down, I'm not sure this was the right format? I liked Hulk being the voice of reason and the poor-Reed cliffhanger, but the rest of it felt like it'd already happened last issue.

Ultimate Spider-Man 4 - The conversation with Katie and her sister really was a strange way to open such a killer issue and it quickly spun into directions that I did not see coming. Who are her parents? Why is her sister so coldly practical? Then the issue shifts to Miles' fight with Norman and the Peter Parker character (whom I still refuse to acknowledge might even be the real deal) shows up and and the fight goes...weird. "Peter" whups him, Miles gets in a venom blast and Norman takes off. The most important development, though, is how everyone reacts to seeing the classic costume on the broadcast of the fight. Aunt May says she thinks it's him, everyone else only gets to exhibit their best shocked faces. I'm not sure how much longer this is going to be dragged out (six issues is the new norm, right?) but I'm curious to see if my jaded cynicism is going to be right or if they're actually going to bring the killed Ultimate Peter Parker back. I hope not, and I still don't believe it, but they're certainly selling it.

Book of the week goes to Invincible. I was holding out hope for Ultimate Spidey, but without a resolution, I can't be as satisfied as Kirkman made me.

Monday, August 4, 2014

comics for the week of 07/30/14.

Guardians of the Galaxy came out this week. It's great. Go see it.

Avengers 33 - Just Cap. A 2001 and Wizard of Oz reference in the first two pages. And then....more stuff I don't understand. There's so much scope (50,000 years, right?) at this point that I (we?) continue to have no choice but to sit back and let it wash over us and try to look back only in retrospect, in the future. (Which, I guess, is kind of a meta commentary on the story? Huh. I wonder if that's purposeful. Or if I'm just stupid and there are plenty of people who are getting this as it's happening.) The best/worst part, though, is the last page. I thought for sure that Cap was going to fall through fractured time and lose the Infinity Formula and we'd have some kind of resolution, both to this story as well as to the larger idea of how we're going to make the jump that's imminent (this is why I try to stay away from Previews. If I didn't know that jump was coming and Steve was going to be old, I wouldn't be trying to pre-rationalize it) in the Avengers World idea. But noooooo...we've got one more issue. However, I'm happy to see the words "To Be Concluded" which assures me that next issue actually will provide some sort of closure, whether I understand it or not. The biggest question? That sure looks like modern Tony, huh? It's cool, but I definitely don't get it.

Black Science - This book is the most bonkers book coming out in all of comics-hood. Seriously. The art is a huge part of it, with just totally cutting loose, but the coloring is definitely included, too. It reminds me of a 21st century take on the old four way colors. In this issue, I was lost in the best way. It all happened so quickly that I didn't even get to figure out who the narrator was until it was revealed. I should have caught it with the names, but I was happily surprised. With the way the characters are dying in this series, I think we've got to acknowledge that there's a chance the kids are dead, but I don't believe they are. I love the progression of all the characters and I loved the horse-fish, the sacrifices, the Shaman still being around.

East of West 14 - This book is close up there on the insanity meter. We've got Death looking for his son, but his ex-compatriots getting there before him. Before they do that, though, they check with their God-ish figure (Ezra [Have we seen him before?] is simply the Word's vessel, but I'm sure we're supposed to take him at his [pun intended!] word) to make sure it's OK. It's definitely not, and despite hearing that negative, the remaining trio of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse put their dastardly plan into action. Also, we see the Confederate States of America moving toward a new President and while it's no surprise who takes over the role, it's revealing to see the depths he descended to in order to get there. It's a confusing book, but there are huge things happening.

Hawkeye 19 - Oh man. I've loved this series as long as it's been going on and this felt like the perfect issue of the entire run. The only thing darkening its perfection? The realization that there's only two more (?) issues left. It's always felt like a comic that we didn't really deserve any more, at least not from one of the Big Two. When it came out, it was a revelation. It's still deserving of its spot in the sun, but I can't say that I'm surprised at its (inevitably too-soon) demise. This issue fully bought into the sign language and got us back to the truth of Clint as a deaf kid. While he's made strides getting over it (clearly) in the interim - I don't know if those were magical or superheroic or just plain old rectons out of spite for "weakness" - it's now got to be an essential part of him. If a lesser writer can't handle that wrinkle to this character, I'm just not sure they should get to write him. This has got to be Clint from now on, otherwise this sparkling run will mean nothing. This is a prime example of when continuity is important. Clint and Barney get back up after being knocked to the mat, they rally themselves (actually, it's more like Barney rallying Clint first, which is perfect with its tie to the past) and the troops (not just the citizens of the apartment building, but Clint's super pals, too) in order to take the fight to the gang that put them in this place. The last issues (the question mark in the beginning is to say I think I remember hearing there'll be two more, but that could be wrong...) are going to be incredible. As this whole thing (minus those two throwaway issues...) was.

Mind MGMT 24 - A lovely time for a break. It was a perfect little retrospective, giving long-time readers new clues regarding the life of Henry Lyme and providing a nice jumping on spot for new readers. I'm reassured by the fact that new comics like this are still coming out monthly (kinda) and that the hardcover collections are still readily available as well. There's not a lot to say in regards to this issue for a long timer, other than it was delightful to see some of the older adventures of Lyme and his once-upon-a-time partner. Also tragic is the inclusion of any other aspect, since we know they're all doomed: his marriage, his rescue of Meru, his time with the dolphins, with the artists, on the plane, etc. I mean, damn. Dude's lived a hell of a fucked up life.

New Avengers 21 - This was a masterpiece. I feel like we're in the worst/best kind of morality play, where Namor plays the Shakespearean role of villain embracing his heroic side in the most stark terms. It's a weird thing to say, but this mainstream Marvel superhero comic was on the level of some of the most impressive indie comics this week. When Namor started the battle between the Illuminati and the Great Society a couple issues ago, I wasn't surprised, but I was happy to see him fully embracing that role. This issue was even more than that and, ironically, I think it made him come off stronger. While all of the heroes have already clearly crossed the line, they're unwilling to take the LAST step. They've been perfectly content to walk all the way past the edge, but, Wile Coyote style, are still deceiving themselves that they're on solid ground. Only Namor is brave enough to look down and realize that he's overdue for a fall. I actually lost respect for Reed, Beast, Tony, etc. and gained some for Namor. Only Strange seemed fully aware of the price he's already paid. When the Great Society was first introduced, I was pissed off, because I felt like we were wasting time. But now that I've got the gift of hindsight, I see they were only a means to an end. And that end, amazingly, has been to put some kind of shine (whether it's of disgust or not) on Namor and slime up his Illuminati fellows.

Sandman: Overture 3 - Well. I don't know how to properly react to this issue because it feels like the true middle of the series. I'm not sure anything actually happened, but that's kind of to be expected from the Prince of Stories primarily just telling a story and wandering over some land, only arriving at his destination on the last page? I mean, he definitely met a companion who's going to be detrimental to his overall cause according to the Fates. And the art was gorgeous (duh) and the blending of our Dream and the Cat Dream became even better. But...the point of the story eluded me and the ending of the story just made me more anxious for the time to pass to get to the next issue. But the section with the bugs was amazing as was the little girl (Hope, love it) and her reaction to Dream's horrible, horrible laughter. That seems pretty accurate.

Spike: Into the Light - Yeah, that was cool. But nothing amazing. Just a Spike tale, pretty standard. I'm not sure it added anything to anything, at least for me. I was already a Spike fan, and I'd think anyone who's been on the series long enough is, too. But I'm glad Marsters got to write this, because it seems like he truly wanted to, and I'm glad the story of good Spike was advanced a little. There's not much more to it.

The Wake 10 - I'm disappointed to say that I was disappointed with the ending. It was appropriately epic in scope for a story that spanned more than hundreds of years (I mean, thousands, even millions, if you count the caveman stuff) but it felt so loose, so tenuous to the stories that I'd actually cared about in this book. The first half was Dr. Archer and her work and discovering the Mers and the second half was Leeward and her dolphin and her parents and the crazy new world she and her people inhabited. But that's the thing: we don't truly get resolution to any of those. We do, though, get a pullback by the camera, and a revelation that the picture was always much larger than we (or even Archer) suspected and a grander resolution. Which, I suppose, is good for Snyder, since it seems that's the story he wanted to tell. But for those of us who invested in the concept of the two protagonists, the only satisfaction we get is hearing Archer say she spoke with her son and that she gave him some good advice, which Leeward gets to use to bold effect on the gorgeous last page. Also, the turnout with the General and the Crazy Lady, which is the only bit of conclusion we see in regards to the future story. It was fine, but it felt like...not an ending?

Book of the week goes to Hawkeye. In a week of amazingly strong comics, there was a lot of competition, but I can't ignore the simple and most pure pleasures.