Monday, November 30, 2015

comics for the week of 11/25/15.

Happy Thanksgiving. I'm grateful for good ass comics.

Black Magick 2 - Great development on all fronts, but especially Rowan's partner. The relationships in this book feel real, as does the fear that Alex shows when Rowan tells her about the perp from last night. It's clear that one of the AIB folks doesn't trust her and that he knows something, but we'll pick that up later, I assume. For now, we can see that something big is happening and the last page isn't nearly the joke that the other officer assumes it is. No gorgeous splash pages here, but the art is solid once again and Rucka knows how to write like no other.

Fight Club 7 - Not as bad as last issue, but I'm still left wondering what we're doing here. It's a Moore/Morrison fiction-as-reality type of deal with all the references to the movie and the frat-bro-dudes starting their own, but the story is suffering because of that. There's no focus. We get a reanimated (by just calling his name?) zombie Robert Paulsen, we see Tyler's kid, and Marla might....be pregnant again? But drinking freely? I wasn't totally clear on that part. The bit with Sebastian and the psychologist was interesting, but not great.

Rachel Rising 37 - The weakest issue in a while, but I'm willing to have that for the sake of the set up. We saw none of the characterization, which is actually what makes any good book worth its while, but we certainly did move the larger plot along. There are also some seeds which are being planted, which I'm sure will be nice later.

Saga 31 - Hazel has grown again! And grandma is with her! And so is Isabel! And so is...whoever that girl was from the liberation group. There were several best parts of this issue, which I know isn't supposed to happen, but this is Saga we're talking about. The first was the splash of the both parts character, just super well done. The second was the teacher's face when she saw Hazel's wings, and the third was the anticipation that's gonna stay with me all month wondering just how much this is going to affect all of their lives just because the kid saw a book that she'd had when she was younger. They've obviously built something for themselves here; it's not perfect or even great, but it's something. And now, BKV is going to change it in a rather drastic way.

Wolverine 2 - Tons of fun again. Of course the clones all have their own personalities and of course Laura is going to be prone to helping them and of course the government is going to be the bad guy. But I didn't expect Taskmaster on the last page. He's always a bundle of joy. This is a fun superhero book.

Book of the week goes to Saga. There is no other.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

comics for the week of 11/11/15 & 11/18/15.

Happy Veteran's Day. And Happy Pedro Zamora Day.

Avengers 1 – Well, it's a start. There's not a lot to say about a first issue that doesn't even feature all the members of the team. I get that they're beginning, but there's so much going on in this universe that it's hard to think that this team will ever actually become a big deal, especially with this minimal start. It wasn't bad, but Miles was the best part of the first story and the Ms. Marvel and Nova back-up was better than anything in the former, so...

Hawkeye 1 – And there's another new one. That's fine and all, but the art's not great, the story's cool, but the way it bounces back and forth, and the memory of how good it's been in the recent past...All these things conspire to make me think that I'll never care about Hawk-guy the way I once did. And that's fine. For me. But as a company, it's gotta be a little worrying for Marvel, huh?

Illuminati 1 - Honestly, this was the book I got that I thought was going to suck the most, but it was great. The art was just the right side of cartoony for me and I card about the C-List villains way more than I thought I would. Luke Cage and Iron Fist were happy accidental co-stars, and the Hood is always an interesting player. This has potential, but I can't see it being an ongoing. Fun for little stories about the other side, though. Also, the sound effects with the noises (Krakoom, etc.) were amazing touches, as well as the non-cartoony aspect of Iron Fist's dragon. There were some seriously great things about this issue. (Not to mention Luke's RTJ shirt!)

Secret Wars 7 – It was both better and worse than 6? It felt like he was taking the piss out of himself multiple times; the tone was totally different than I've ever heard from a Hickman book, like he was mocking himself. He can be funny, there's no doubt, he's not all serious all the time, but this was the first time I remember thinking, boy, that's weird. It wasn't just the bits with Sinister, nor the first reveal of the Prophet, but littered throughout the book. But, the action did move forward, so that was better than the last issue. But it pulled up short. I know this is what they're talking about when they say they split 7 into two issues, as opposed to the conclusion being elongated, but it feels like it wasn't even a full issue. Also: the text reads, the ultimate sacrifice, but we didn't see anyone give up anything. We just saw the beginning of the most ferocious battle. That's all well and good, but I'm not sure it's a proper issue. The art was good (except for the panel with T'Challa's head in blank space – and there was another instance of Hickman's mocking: Namor making fun of Reed's conversation with the King of the Dead, but then he turned it around and showed how the Panther needed that extra push from his old friend to actually assert his authority over the zombies) and the cover was beautiful and next issue looks great, but I want this to be over so we can fully embrace the new universe. It's too bad that Hickman's swan song is being delayed in this way; it could have been great. Now it'll just be another crossover that we dismissively remember.

Spider-Gwen 2 – Not great. Just fine. Can't imagine that I'm keeping this. It's fun, but it's not for me. Loved the Cap, the Falcon, and the interaction between Captain Stacy and the Parkers. But there's nothing connecting it to the real shit. At least not for me.

Twilight Children 2 – Strangely, this had even less info than the last issue? But I now see it's only a four issue mini-series, so my hope is that its already done and they're now just marketing it. It's great, it's beautiful, but I'm not sure what it's about yet. It'll read better as a whole (as almost everything does) but I'm really glad it exists and that I'm checking it out for now.

Ultimates 1 – This is the one that SHOULD have sucked the most. But it was fun. America Chavez deserves a better book, but maybe this has a chance of being one. I didn't see the end coming, it was a nice reversal, and I think the idea of T'Challa being involved in the Triskelion-based Ultimates in 616 new MU is a cool touch. Blue Marvel is weak, but Captain Marvel makes up for it. Spectrum is an unknown, but seems to demonstrate potential. I hope they find a place in the new U.

The Walking Dead 148 – LOOOOOOOOL. Rick would never go to Negan for help. Never. (I mean, let me clarify: fictional characters can do whatever the fuck their creator says/makes them do. I don't give a shit. You do you, Kirkman. But IMO, from what I've seen, he'd never go to Negan in full faith. I have total trust that Rick's got at least four fucking aces in his back pocket. And if he doesn't, that's weird as fuck.) Anyway, the big spoiler out of comic group for this issue was the Alpah bit, but I'm actually way more interested in the society angle and how Rick's dealing with it, and how Negan will play in to it, and how Maggie is supporting Rick, and how Andrea and Carl (and that girl...) are out on the road together. It's good.

Wolverine 1 – I thought I wasn't gonna care enough about this one to actually review it and it'd just be in the top line. But to see those old X-Force costumes, and to have Logan as the memory advisor, and to see her in the new costume... Damn. That was worth it. The villain's mask looked dope as hell, too. I love that Laura is working with young Warren (let's keep those characters relevant!) and I forgot that she has toe claws. But really, this is a cool new Marvel comic. It's a legacy, none of the characters are who we think they are, but it still works. It's the best of what a superhero reboot can be? (Other than the sub-par art?) And the ending, with the reveal of who the villain was sets up a nice long-term arc. It's cool.

Book of the week goes to Illuminati. And if you had bet me 100 dollars against that, you'd be winning at least a G. But it was so much fun.

*

Next week, sorry, got behind. Happy early Thanksgiving.

Buffy 21 - This issue started shit and really worked its way into something hilarious. Clem taking keyfabe, the dig at GRRM, and Satsu calling out Buffy and Spike as far less mysterious and cool than they used to be were all highlights. But the underlying message, the fact that the vamps were basically just using the Army recruitment as a chance to drive a wedge between Spike and Buffy, is worrisome. I mean, they're maturing. Just let that chill for a while. Unless you're going to send him away, which you're not. He's a vital part of the puzzle now. And I didn't get the end because I don't remember who Dylan is. Le sigh.

Extraordinary X-Men 2 - Young Jean is getting great, Ramos draws her well, Forge is ACTUALLY back, not just his presence, but most importantly: this X-Book feels like the ooooolllllllllddddd X books: people are terrified of mutants. This is going to change the whole lineup. In a good way. But even cooler? There's a lot of potential in this book. Between the Rasputin siblings (always good together) plus Nightcrawler (always good interactions with both Colossus and Magik) that's a solid line. But we have so much more: Bobby is mature, he's working with Storm. Storm's now worried about legacy, she's the new Scott. Scott appears to be really dead, so he's joined the ranks of Xavier and old Jean. And, of course, that ending. Jean, of course, will be the one to bring Logan in. This makes sense. My only worry is that they'll tease a romance between these two. It should never be that. Logan always has the mentor role with young women, but he's always loved Jean. Let's not let that get in the way of what could be one of the most solid X-relationships in a long time. (Bonus, the back page showed the covers of books I didn't know were coming because I don't read previews and both All New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men look good!)

Huck 1 - Huh. Well, that was the surprise of the week. It was totally, totally different than I was expecting, in both good and bad ways? I mean, the whole issue is people promising not to tell, and then someone does? For almost no reason? After he goes over there? For almost no reason? As though this is the first disaster he's ever seen on TV? As though this is the first time that he thought maybe doing things for the world would be better than mowing peoples' lawns? Just a super strange start. But what a concept. Smalltown Superman who's never come out to the world gets hauled out? And he's....special? A blue-eyed orphan? Yeah, we've seen all this before, but it's a novel take on an old trope and the art is beautiful and that's a good thing. The only thing that worries me is that it's Millar and he might take this into trigger word fantasy territory real quick, if only for the shock value. Here's to hoping it can stay away from there.

I Hate Fairyland 2 - That was a bunch of fun but I'm going to stop reviewing it here and now because there's not much substance. That's fine and all, I still enjoy it but there's not much to say.

Invincible 125 - It was fun, but not as much so as last issue? I mean...it's obviously still going somewhere and I'm still super excited to find out where that is, but...it feels kinda pointless at this point? Last issue was fun to see the changes, but this issue was just sad? I'm not sure that I believe Nolan either, not at this point. We'll see. Not bad.

Ms. Marvel 1 - Kamala Kahn continues her streak of being the coolest, most fun, most self-aware young person's comic out there. Bougie Foods and majority-minority neighborhoods aside, this has the formula of old school Spidey down pat: young person gets awesome powers, uses them, has fun, gets in over their head. It's great. It's small time storytelling that'll never be as monumentally fun as other books, but it's super important.

New Avengers 3 - Still a bizarre book, still fun. The contrast between the evil magic of the old dimension and the traditional Marvel space of Kree and Skrull, along with stupid Squirrel Girl being there, Hulkling calling himself a Dagwood and Power Man going all social justice warrior on Wiccan's name makes this book the oddest of combinations. With the in-jokes (Hawkeye admitting he flew into a Kree engine once, and the hybrids using "Uatu's eyes!" as a curse) and the references to Dr. Doom and Alpha Flight, this is a great book that'll reflect some of the new, broad status. POD seems to be in trouble, but I can't say I have any idea who the person inside is (or even that I knew there was a person inside, so....) so it's hard to really care. But when it makes mistakes, it'll be bad. (Also, just as my last note here, but as a 90s X-Kid, I'm a huge fan of Sunfire and Robert DaCosta is doing great things with his money and this team. But when Songbird says he's leaning into the villain thing, it got me SO EXCITED about a Reignfire possibility!)

Spider-Woman 1 - It wasn't great, but it was solid character building. And that single splash in the middle of the issue with the maternity leave party was excellent. Spidey and Spidey, Carol and Iron Man. So good. We also got to see plenty of people on that page, and they were interacting in interesting ways. (Shoutout Kamala, Ms. America, and Nova, as well as Miles. And THEN! On her maternity leave, does she GO TO ANOTHER UNIVERSE AND HANG OUT WITH GWEN STACY? Great little touch.) At the end, when she goes to see Alpha Flight, though, is when it gets good. I thought I was gonna just glaze right over this book, but it was fun. It's fun in the way books should be fun, not fun like the forced integration of Deadpool and Squirrel Girl into mainstream titles. But here we've got Ben Urich and a guy calling himself Porcupine Man and it feels quirky and different, but authentic. The aliens are just gonna be a continuation of that. Good stuff.

Thor 1 - Still fun, but not magic. I'm interested in Jane as Thor, the art is good, and the characters are almost all likable, but I've never been a Thor fan. In JMS' run, I didn't even consider it. It's only Jason Aaron that's keeping me on this book and I'll stay with it as long as he's plotting, because I have faith in his work, but as soon as he's gone, I am too. This issue we see a bit more of the Thor goodness that helps Jane, the madness of Odin, and the changes in Asgard. The ending is surprising, but not too much. The biggest takeaway for me was the lack of Odinson. He'll be a player in the new Marvel U, I'm sure, but his role is TBD. Jane's got her own merry band of pranksters by her side, so that's great enough for now. Who needs the men?

Book of the week goes to Ms. Marvel. Small ball still wins.

Monday, November 9, 2015

comics for the week of 11/04/15.

Comic books are fun.

Angel and Faith 20 - Yeah, OK, that was good. We can see that everyone is focused on the big picture now, which is always a good place to be. Nadira is coming along as not only a red herring but a good character in her own right, Angel is thinking straight, his relationship with Faith is progressing, Fred is finding her footing again, and Koh is worthwhile. But it's not stellar, so I'm hoping for something meaningful from the conclusion.

Black Science 17 - Black Science is back and, while there's still no doubt it'll read better as a trade, this is a hell of a start to the 2nd part. It's gonna be a bit smaller (a 5 part story to start us is a good sign) and so I presume it'll be broken up into little chapters to make up this whole? Either way, this issue was entertaining as hell. The circularity of the plot continues, which is awesome, even while three years have passed, but the highlight here was the art. Seriously, from the first page to the splashes toward the end, it was incredible. Love that we'll be getting some more on Grant's backstory. And, with the cast scattered throughout the Eververse, the focus will be a bit more narrow for a while, which will free some things up.

Doctor Strange 2 - Well, Mikee told me to continue giving it a chance, so I'm doing so. I've really never cared about Doctor Strange. I don't dislike him. But even as a kid, when I was reading the most random assembly of comics, I didn't find my way to him often. Every once in a while, when Ghost Rider and Blade and he would team up as the Midnight Sons, or when he changed his costume, I'd find something worthwhile, but for the most part, he's not for me. But with Jason Aaron and Chris Bachelo doing the book, I owe it more of a chance. And while the art is lovely (thanks Bachelo!) and the story is cool enough, I just can't find myself caring about the mystical world and all the huge level machinations that I feel like this book is destined for. It's not that I think it's bad. It's just not for me.

Extraordinary X-Men 1 - This book has a chance to be THE X book. Ramos is the perfect style for Colossus and I love the relationship between him, and Magik, and Nightcrawler. (But Ramos is not the perfect fit for Nightcrawler. He looks weird.) The interplay between Storm, old Bobby and young Jean will be interesting. The Terrigen Mists being out in the world killing mutants (and, even more so, making them sterile, ensuring that "No more mutants" will be Bendis' lasting legacy to the Marvel Universe) will make every X book feel like it could be the last. Which is weird. Business is a stupid thing, and when it fucks up my comics, I get sad, but I guess that's just part of the whole industry. But for now, this book feels like it could be one of the good side effects. The last page cliffhanger with Old Man Logan really just emphasizes that. This could be a uniquely good time. But...it also feels like it might the last of its kind.

Invincible Iron Man 3 - Another suggestion from Mikee that I didn't really think I'd follow up on, but I gave it more of a shot because of his encouragement. While Bendis writing Tony Stark isn't always the best match, because of BMB's propensity for making all of his characters sound like teenagers trying so desperately hard, it kind of works for Doom? The new Doom is strange and different and is obviously going to be more involved in the world of Doctor Doom, so I think this is kind of a weird crossover between he and Tony, but like he said in 2, they do have some shared history. Madame Masque is being well-developed as a character gaining new powers, but the other woman in Tony's life seems to be the ultimate cliche: he even tells her that he's just using her to become a better person? And she thinks that's a cute thing to say? Bummer that Bendis, with all his other over the top tropes, had to put this one in, too. The back and forth banter with Friday is not actually Tony Stark, nor is his insistence upon a high five with Strange, those are just Bendisisms that he can't leave behind. A last note of disappointment: Marquez's art is usually beautiful but I found some things about it, in this issue in particular, that were crazy bad.

Paper Girls 2 - Cool stuff. I'm not sure where this is going, though. It's clearly got some rather large time travel issues, beyond the obvious Apple hook, though, right? I mean...those were pterodactyls, right? Also, that last panel is OMINOUS. Great work by Chiang. The pencils were kinda rough (not bad, but, like, as a descriptive word) the whole rest of the issue and I'm wondering if this is a new stylistic thing he's working on? It's a different look for him and I don't mind it but it's gonna take some getting used to. We're slowly but surely getting some personalities from the girls.

Uncanny X-Men 600 - I'm not the world's largest X-Men fan, but for some reason, this was the issue that I was pumped about the most this week, and that I thought about the most for the last two, three, four months while it's been delayed. I really have no explanation for why, but I think I thought it was gonna be great. It was not great. Despite all the delays, the art was still varying from page to page. The ideas weren't particularly revelatory. The story didn't do anything that we didn't all expect, and I didn't feel much emotional resonance from it. I came away pretty disappointed (especially in the art, because of all the delays) and feeling like I definitely won't care much about the X-Men in the new Marvel Universe.

Book of the week goes to Black Science. A welcome return.

Monday, November 2, 2015

comics for the week of 10/28/15.

I also bought Jeff Smith's Tuki #1, which is a super late grab, but it was really good. I'm strongly considering adding it to the stack and if you haven't checked it out yet, you definitely should.

Black Magick 1 - Rucka works magic yet again. Another new series with a strong female protagonist who's got problems. I loved the intro where we're supposed to think it was old times the phone goes off. Good contrast to set up all the later ones. The hostage scenario was a great way to get thrown into the action to start us off, and we got to learn just enough about Rowan to guarantee future interest. This one is definitely added to the stack.

Fight Club 6 - This is just getting weirder and weirder and I'm liking it less and less. I feel like Palahniuk wanted to play in the medium and he's got some good points for it, but overall, this is a failure. The kid is still alive, Tyler and Sebastian are one, the good doctor might not be so good after all, and Rize or Die is a global conglomerate which somehow escaped everyone's notice. Wack. The cop who saves him is never explained (maybe never will be?) and there's a JFK conspiracy thrown in for no reason whatsoever. Maybe it'll read better as a whole?

New Avengers 2 - The Maker is introduced as "What if...Reed Richards went wrong?" and that's the best way to put it. Hickman proved, with his FF run, and, to a lesser degree, with his Secret Wars stuff, that Reed Richards is not the stodgy old man of the MU. He can be one of the greatest characters in the whole story-world. So the Maker has great potential. But honestly, he wasn't even the best part of the issue. This issue read like if the Avengers (and superheroes as a whole) were real and Zuckerberg and his tech gang in Silicon Valley took them over: "How does this scale up?" It was hilarious and awesome to read, all at the same time. But to make the Maker merely the mad, wacky scientist feels like underselling him. It's the Superman problem. When you can beat anyone at any time, it makes everyone feel a little underwhelming.

Book of the week goes to Black Magick. While the Big Two are spinning their wheels, Image is becoming the best comic book company in the world.