CRIMINAL #12 – Pick of the week – How could it not be? It’s the last issue of the “Cruel Summer” arc. Hey, did you know you can read the first issue for free at Image Comics? https://imagecomics.com/read/criminal
Very light week for me, and not enough independent comic books.
ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN JOSE LUIS GARCIA LOPEZ HC VOL 02 – Garcia Lopez’s work was the first art I was drawn to. I hope I can pick these hard covers up later (but soon)!
FAR SECTOR #1 – Buzz is that this book is great. I’ll be getting the trade.
SEX CRIMINALS #26 – The beginning of the end. I’m really curious if this series sticks the landing.
FANTASTIC FOUR GRAND DESIGN TP – I haven’t read any of the Grand Design books, but I want to eventually.
Post these under the title makes them sound like fun comics to read:
ALICE SECRET AGENT OF WONDERLAND YR GN
APOCALYPSE GIRL #1
GINSENG ROOTS #3 – I can’t wait to read the latest work by Craig Thompson in a collected format.
NILS TREE OF LIFE HC – I thought about getting this when it was solicited. Maybe down the road.
Best comic I read recently
IMMORTAL HULK: HULK IN HELL v3 by Al Ewing, Joe Bennet, Ruy Jose, Balardino Brabo, Rafael Fonteriz, Eric Nguyen, Kyle Hotz, Paul Mounts, and Cory Petit
Despite my love of the late 70s television series starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno (did I ever tell you I met Ferrigno once at a car show in Spokane, Washington?), I do not care for the Hulk as a character. It just goes to show you that under artful hands, even mediocre IP can be part of a damn good story. Issues 11-13 especially were magnifique! I loved how everyone melded words and art in such a heartbreakingly beautiful way that transcended the sum of its parts and made me care for this dumb, green guy. I highly recommend this series.
Because Travis & I reviewed the first two weeks of DC’s new 52 comics in episode 10 & 11 of the LBR podcast, I’ll toss the first two weeks of non-DC comics into the review here. To find out what I thought of the first 26 DCnU comics*, have a listen.
Episode 10: DCnU, week 1
Episode 11: DCnU, week 2
Now on with the rest of the comics I read from the first two weeks of September.
Mystic #2: Sigh. While I was impressed with issue one, issue two’s plot devolves into familiar territory: odd girl fitting in (or not really) where she’s not wanted, and odd girl’s best friend works with others against her for a perceived betrayal. Then there’s the problem with the magic MacGuffin: I’m not sure if that’s yet interesting or just overly trodden ground–we’ll see. I still like the alternate reality aspects as well as the art. At times it reminds me of tv animation stills, but I find it very clean and accessible.
New Avengers Annual #1: I do believe I’m starting to get tired of Brian Michael Bendis. I have not been liking the Fear Itself tie-in stuff on this title in general, and in particular, I do not care for this turn in Wonder Man’s character. Not that it’s a bad move necessarily, but I guess it just wasn’t handled with any panache, i.e., it’s your typical former ally turns on you story. I did like in one way the five double-page spreads at the beginning wherein Wonder Man outlines the top five worst things that has happened in the Marvel U because of the Avengers (I assume he means recently). How I did not like the double-page spreads is that I have been reading a lot of comics lately that take use splash pages or two-page spreads (mostly DC books). I think it’s an overused technique that the artist uses to have to draw fewer panels, i.e., we get “less” art, in a way. The rest of the issue is essentially a fight scene and the issue ends with a To Be Continued in Avengers Annual #1, which I will not be getting.
Alpha Flight #4: Ok, 1) this comic needs more Northstar in it and 2) oh my god, what the hell, Vindicator? While she seemed to be motivated in her actions because she wanted her children back and safe, Heather has now just turned into the classic, murdering villain, and what’s the fun in that? This is turning out to be what I was afraid of: you can’t go home again, eh.
Buffy, S9 #1: I’ve said this a few times, wait. Let me start by saying I love Joss Whedon. I think he’s a visionary and a genius, BUT he shouldn’t write comics. Come up with the ideas for them, sure, provide insight and plot points, yes. But write the scripts? I don’t think so. This first issue was ok, and I can see why Buffy is acting the way she is considering the events of last season, but the chronology of this story could have been tighter and better drafted, and I lay at least part of the blame here at artist Georges Jeanty’s hands. I was really hoping Joss and Dark Horse would go with a different artist in Season 9, but here we are. And wtf is up with that ending? Joss is known for pulling the rug out from under you, but that last page was just dumb. It’s a very lovely Jo Chen cover (and maybe the only one?), don’t you think?
Criminal: Last of the Innocent #4: Overall, I enjoyed this tale of lost (and found) love, infidelity, betrayal, and murder. This issue wraps everything up, along with some revelations (including one that came out of left field, so I didn’t care for that). It’s so weird about these kind of stories. In the hands of a good storyteller, you can come away sympathizing with a murderer, and that’s exactly what happens in this comic. So, when you get to the end, and Riley has achieved his goals (killed his unfaithful, bitchy wife, ruined his asshole father-in-law financially, covered his murderous tracks by killing his old, junky friend who figured out what he’d done, and got the girl), that last page of art that transforms the happy couple from the “now” style to the “Life with Riley”, “Archie” style, I was very satisfied with the story since Riley got his happy ending. Side-note: in one panel on that last page, where Riley and Lizzie are walking down the street arm in arm, I was reminded very much of a panel in the Miller/Mazzuchelli Daredevil “Born Again” arc. It’s probably just coincidence, but the possible homage sure lept to the front of my brain when I saw it. I’m looking forward to Brubaker’s and Phillips’s next project, Fatale.
Daredevil #3: Speaking of Daredevil, here’s another great issue from Waid, and the Riveras. I love the look of this book, and Waid is writing some good stuff here. That whole bit with Daredevil and Klaw was masterfully done. Every sound effect is used not just to convey “sound” to us, but to represent how it is sounds to Matt. I even like the legal stuff, which usually bores me in Daredevil comics of the past. Matt and Foggy are being very creative in how they deal with Matt’s courthouse ostracism, though, how will they pay their bills? I was trepidatious about this book when it was announced, but I am fully on board now.
Fear Itself #6: It’s rare that I actually exclaim out loud when reading a comic. After all, I’ve been reading comics steadily for over 30 years–what can possibly surprise me? But every once in a while, I get a little tidbit that does, and in this issue, I got Captain America ordering Odin, king of the Norse gods, around. When Odin protests and starts blustering about who he is, Cap cuts him off. Insert exclamation. :) There’s a nice little scene between Spider-Man and Aunt May (though, I’m not sure by the way this scene was shown: does Aunt May know that Peter is Spider-Man now?), and the rest is just moving the plot along to the big fight at the end of the series, next issue.
New Avengers #16: So, between this title and the few Avengers issues I bought recently (grumble, grumble**), I’m a little tired of the talking head, “interview” panels. Bendis has long been criticized for his talking head scenes in his books, but I haven’t minded them until now. And part of the irritation I’m feeling is that I’m not sure who everyone is talking to (look at the scene with Luke Cage talking about DD), so Bendis using that device to push the plot forward is either amateurish (lazy?) or hasn’t yet been revealed (I hope it’s the latter). Other than that, I enjoyed the spotlight on Daredevil in an Avengers book, plus DD gets the call to join the New Avengers. If that isn’t yet another good reason for me to read this book, I don’t what is.
Spider-Island: Amazing Spider-Girl #2: I really hate it when a story feels padded, and this issue does because it takes the whole issue for the lead character to come to the realization that she would have to team up with the Kingpin when I knew that she would from last issue. Normally, I don’t mind character progression over time, but we only have three issues here, so either issue 2 is wasting the story, or the story isn’t really here to begin with. However, I like Paul Tobin’s portrayal of Anya and that makes up for a lot. Pepe Larraz’s art is a little too heavy handed on the inks, but Andres Mossa’s colors help make up for it by giving a real depth to the art.
Unwritten #28-29: I finally got issue #28 from my comic book shop, but it’s been worth the wait. I got caught up in the mostly flashback tale of Tom’s father and his relationship with a woman comic book artist. This is Mike Carey at his best, when he writes about characters that take over in my head as I read them and they become more than just pencil and ink in front of me. And I’ve just bought into the Cabal’s world view! :D Of course this tale of a comic book creator within a comic book about stories is just about metatextual overload, but it’s so much fun! The covers are great homages to 1930s superhero and pulp magazines, even down to the “wrinkles” and “skuffs” on the “covers”. Great stuff.
* These are the titles we reviewed:
Action Comics #1
Animal Man #1
Detective Comics #1
Green Arrow #1
Hawk & Dove #1
Justice League International #1
Static Shock #1
Swamp Thing #1
Batman & Robin #1
Demon Knights #1
Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1
Green Lantern #1
Legion Lost #1
Mister Terrific #1
Red Lanterns #1
Resurrection Man #1
Suicide Squad #1
** I bought Avengers 16 & 17 because they were both solicited as having a story featuring Spider-Woman, and neither issue had anything of the sort. It royally pissed me off.
Alpha Flight #3: Hrmph. The plot continues on, with the capture of the team from last issue being undone this issue, but what I find interesting this month is 1) Puck is back! Yay! 2) Why are the non-human characters so derisive (Snowbird) and almost anti-human (Namorita)? Did I miss something over the years when I wasn’t reading any Alpha Flight? Or is Pak and Van Lente wanting to play up that aspect of the two women? If so, to what end? It makes the characters one-dimensional and ineffectual. In fact, ALL of the women on the team are being portrayed as antagonistic. It makes me go hmm.
Batgirl #24: As I tweeted when I read it, “heartbreaking, bittersweet, beautiful”. Check out Episode 7 of the LBR podcast (coming soon!) for more of my and Oddfellow’s thoughts about this fantastic, wonderful, amazing book. Even though it’s over, you can still go buy the trades. In fact, I may buy all of the trades so I can read the story arcs whenever the mood strikes me, which I think will be quite often. And check out the great Dustin Nguyen cover featuring every major character from this two-year-old comic.
Batman & Robin #26: After Grant Morrison left, this book lost all its steam. A few writers tried to pick up the dropped ball, but it never really worked. This last issue was more of the same, but I also enjoyed it as a stand-alone Batman comic. The whole Dada angle was enjoyable, and for this dumb reader, an unexpected reveal when I got to the end of the issue. For more about this issue, listen to Episode 7.
Birds of Prey #15: No Gail Simone? Who cares? This two-parter was such a waste of the characters and my time. I’ve never cared for Lady Blackhawk, and Black Canary was little more than scenery. Seeing an aged Phantom Lady was kind of interesting, but not that much. Poor ending to what was a really good series.
Criminal: Last of the Innocent #3: Not to detract from what a good story Brubaker and Phillips are crafting, but I can’t help it. The best thing about this issue is the artricle at the end of the book by Jay Faerber on Magnum, P.I. Squee! Here’s a guy who just gets it–gets how great this tv detective (er, private investigator) show was. In fact, we share a love for one fo the show’s finest hours, “Home From the Sea”, which never fails to choke me up, even after all this time.
Fear Itself #5: This is mostly a fight issue, but there’s still some great moments:
Tony Stark telling Odin to give him access to Odin’s workshop because Tony makes really. great. weapons.
Thor having Mjolnir punch a hole through the possessed Ben Grimm, while telling the possessed Hulk, “And him I liked. But you? You were always a giant pain in the ass.” Hah!
Capt. America throws his unbreakable shield at the Serpent, who catches it and BREAKS into pieces!
(Hmm, I just noticed this: Thor and the Serpent both make the same guttural yell when the former strikes Hulk and the latter shatters Cap’s shield. Is there something to that, or is Fraction just word echoing?)
Spider-Man leaving to be with loved ones (and not sticking out the fight) and Cap, at the end, admitting defeat. The second bit is too much for me. It’s only in there to make the situation sound very dire–If Cap is ready to give up then it must be bad, Billy!–but besides losing the battle, the war continues, and who knows that better than Cap? This reads false to me, Fraction. Fix it next issue, please.
Flashpoint: Citizen Cold #3: So is the lightning strike at the end supposed to be poetic justice (is that Wally exacting revenge in a Flash way?), or just deus ex machina (I suppose it’s both)? Eh, it ended.
Flashpoint: Deadman & the Flying Graysons #3: This also ended, but in slightly better fashion. The art in this story was one of the better of the tie-ins, and even though Boston Brand’s character arc is rushed, he still gets there by helping Dick Grayson, who becomes the new Dr. Fate. Now that’s a Flashpoint tie-in that I want to read!
Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman #3: I didn’t care for the third-person narration appearing on the first page and then more than half-way through the book–it was too distracting and telly, not showy. I enjoyed this and the Wonder Woman tie-in for the back story it gives me regarding the Atlantean/Amazonian war, but that’s about it.
Flashpoint: Frankenstein & the Creatures of the Unknown #3: If these tie-ins were a way to drum up interest in Frankenstein as a character in the new 52, I would say DC failed to hook me. I did like the monster squad aspect to the tie-in, but Frank is a one-note character in this title. And I hate that the creatures’ creator is still alive thanks to the restorative factors of his new home. Ugh.
Superman #713 & 714: For some reason, I didn’t receive 713 last week when I should have from my CBS, so I’ll write about both of these issues now. Hmm. In 713, Clark tells his proteges they should stop being public heroes and help behind the scenes, like he used to, convinced he and they could do more good that way, and not a risk to their loved ones. But then Clark goes through a kind of It’s a Wonderful Life arc in that a guide shows him that Superman is important to everyone. If you can’t tell, I was not too impressed with this bit of story telling–it’s so overdone. 714 is the finale of the “Grounded” arc. You may recall that mysterious woman who has been dogging Superman and affecting him in some way for reasons heretofore were unrevealed? Yeah, she’s just an Earth woman under the spell of a Kryptonian sunstone. THIS is what J. Michael Straczynski (and later Chris Roberson) was heading towards? Meh. As always, JMS started strong (I know this story had its many detractors, but I enjoyed it for a while), but the ending suuucked. Good thing Grant Morrison is back helming the Man of Steel in Action Comics.
War of the Green Lanterns Aftermath #2: What is with the ending where the Guardians go to Ganthet and approach him with these wide, threatening eyes, their hands reaching for him? The next panel shows the central power battery and Oa’s sun with Mogo’s lantern insignia surrounding it with a caption that reads “The end . . . for now”. I know that the new Green Lantern books come September will pretty much be intact from we have read already, so I hope that this mystery gets answered at some point–it’s just an odd way to end a mini-series that I thought was supposed to tie up some loose ends, but really didn’t.
I also read New Avengers #15 and Teen Titans #99 (17 pages of fight scenes ends on a two-page splash showing Titans Tower being protected by pretty much any other Titan from this latest volume). I have not read Unwritten #28 yet since my comic shop somehow missed giving me the issue.