Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wednesdaybusiness 4/3/13

And then some comics happened.


Age of Apocalypse #14 by David Lapham, Andre Araujo, and Renato Arlem

Yet another series I didn't even know existed. As I said last week, the very fact that I'm picking some of these books up means that - to me - this crossover is already a success. This series apparently spun out of Uncanny X-Force, which I loved. In fact, this whole crossover is spinning out of Uncanny X-Force, so if you liked that series you should probably give this a look.

The one problem remains that I don't know who a lot of these characters are, as these comics have been flying pretty low under the radar. Why do Dazzler and Sage have their own team, and why does it contain weird steampunkish versions of the X-Men from other dimensions... and Hercules? I have no idea... but I think I love it.

This crossover also finally killed off Neil Gaiman's stupid Celestial, and I am really happy about that. Now I can merrily go back to pretending that Gaiman never wrote anything for Marvel.

Maybe someday, if you're lucky, I'll write an article here explaining why you're stupid for liking Neil Gaiman so much.

Anyway, the X-Termination crossover remains surprisingly strong, and has left me inspired to go back a ways and check out some of these X-comics I've been missing. I consider that pretty high praise for a crossover book, especially one starring Gambit.

My one beef is that - like all crossovers - they're using this as an excuse to kill off a whole bunch of characters. Granted, I don't know most of these characters, but if I go back and read their comics and really like them, I'll be a little pissed. And I was sad to see Age of Apocalypse's Sabretooth go. The Exiles comics really gave me an appreciation for that guy.


Age of Ultron #4 by Brian Michael Bendis and Bryan Hitch

OH MY GOD THIS FUCKING COMIC WON'T LET UP. Seriously, does this shit need to come out every week or two? They don't even have the decency to give me a month to recover from the relentless darkity-dark-dark grim dystopian blah blah bullshit bullshit.

Ultron's not really in the Age of Ultron, he's manipulating the world through Vision from the future, somehow. We still haven't been given any details of how he took over the world or anything, but details would just get in the way of the ass-shots and the murders anyway, so fuck 'em.

Bendis is doing some really good work on some of his other books, but this thing is just aggressively stupid. It's boring, it's violent, the art is not-very-good, it's pretending like it's Important without actually providing any reasons why it ought to be viewed that way... This comic is basically a perfect representation of why a lot of people don't like comics.

Here, have a picture of She-Hulk getting shot in the head:

Comic books are SUPPOSED to suck all the joy out of your life, right?

All-New X-Men #10 by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen

This is the other side of Bendis, where he's writing a really solid, entertaining, and fairly lighthearted comic. I really feel like Marvel should force Bendis to stick to character-driven stories with small casts; It has always been his strong point, and when they give him world-shattering action-packed super-adventures to write, he almost always whizzes them.

Immonen's art is still totally on-point in this book: His action scenes are wild, and he even brings a kinetic quality to the talky scenes that makes the pages really pop. Also, I feel like he's the first artist to draw Wolverine as an ugly little hairy guy since Hugh Jackman came along and made Wolverine hunkified in the first X-Men movie.

Guys, it really is starting to seem like Cyclops Was Right.

Dial H #11 by China Miéville, Alberto Ponticelli, and Dan Green

As part of my ongoing attempts to give the Nü52 a sporting chance, and at the recommendation of my pal Collin David, I spent some time this week catching up on Dial H... and I'm awfully glad I did.

This comic is delightfully strange. It takes a high concept that I've always loved - a rotary telephone dial that can turn anybody into a seemingly random superhero - pulls it from the realm of Silver Age wackiness, and gives it a decidedly 1980s Vertigo feeling. The crazy Brian Bolland covers only add to that bit of Animal Man nostalgia for me.

The book is too oddball for me to summarize without spoiling all the twists and turns it's taken, but suffice it to say that it has my heartiest endorsement. This is the first thing from the Nü52 that I've considered genuinely GOOD, and not just good-for-the-Nü52.

On a tangential note: Whoever at DC Comics that came up with this month's "WTF" promotion should probably be slapped around a little. All month, it's just been right there on every cover of every comic, inviting jerks like me to openly mock their brand with an ease that is frankly a bit embarrassing.


Indestructible Hulk #6 by Mark Waid and Walter Simonson

I already love this series, but they REALLY had me at Walt Simonson illustrating a Thor story. I've actually been following the progress of the illustrations for this issue on Simonson's Facebook page for the past month or so, because I'm just that geeky. For those not as nerdly as I, Simonson's run on Thor is basically considered by most to be one of the best superhero comics of all time, so having him return to Asgard in the pages of Indestructible Hulk is really fun.

The story so far is that Bruce Banner has led his new S.H.I.E.L.D. research team into Jǫtunheimr, land of the Frost Giants, to mine a few metals that aren't on the standard Periodic Table. They run into Thor, who mysteriously is wearing his old costume and has no idea who Banner is, and then they are - of course - set upon by Frost Giants. During the ensuing battle, Thor is knocked for a loop and drops his hammer, Mjolnir (a weapon so badass that it has its own Wikipedia page).

And then Hulk screams "HULK... WORTHY!" and picks the thing up, and the comic ends.

So next month we're either going to see a Thor'd-up Hulk, or find out that they're not dealing with the real Thor, and either way I'm looking forward to it being well-written, beautifully-drawn, and a whole lot of fun.

I'm not using any sort of hyperbole when I say that this is one of my favorite comic book panels ever.

Red She-Hulk #64 by Jeff Parker, Carlo Pagulayan, and Wellinton Alves

Basically, I can only repeat myself when I talk about this comic. Red She-Hulk and Machine Man are trying to track down Holographic Nikola Tesla to try and save the world, while being pursued by Captain America and the U.S. Military. Red She-Hulk is one of my favorite new characters, Machine Man is one of my favorite old characters, this is one of my favorite comics on the stands right now, and you should be reading it. This series just keeps getting better and better, and I am growing more and more unashamedly fanboyish about it.

Such a fun duo.

Superior Spider-Man #7 by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos

So this comic has returned from last week's foray into dumbass crossover territory, and picked the plot back up quite nicely. Though this issue didn't deliver the Avengers versus Spider-Man throwdown that I was hoping for (that seems to be taking place next issue), we instead got a really solid story about Cardiac: a character I honestly always enjoy checking in on from time to time.

Cardiac is an interesting foil for Otto/Spidey: Pitting him against a criminal vigilante whose primary goal is to end disease and save lives is a really solid way to expose SSM's violent methods as being not-so-great for New York.

It's also fun watching Otto eventually lose himself to his supervillainous ways over the course of this series. My favorite villains are always the ones with the damaged egos; the people who can't help but try to prove their awesome might and tremendous intellect at every turn and always, always, always fail to impress anybody. Octavius is rapidly tipping his hand, and at the end of the issue - when confronted by the Avengers - he basically goes full monologuing supervillain.

At the same time, Peter Parker's trapped consciousness is finally starting to go from being a passive observer to regaining some control over his own body, as demonstrated in a scene that was basically cribbed from Being John Malkovich, except without Catherine Keener's breasts.

I'm looking forward to seeing how Spidey fares against the Avengers next issue.

I love supervillain alliteration.

Thanos Rising #1 by Jason Aaron and Simone Bianchi

Was the world really clamoring for a miniseries about Thanos' childhood? I know he was the big reveal at the end of the Avengers movie (um, spoilerz?), but I don't really think the average moviegoer is going to need the character established THAT well for them. A reprint of The Infinity Gauntlet would probably do the trick.

That's not to say this isn't a good comic, because it is. Aaron and Bianchi are both quite good at their jobs, and always turn out quality work. The story is compelling enough, I just don't really understand why it's necessary. Right now it's just the adventures of Lil' Thanos and his pals. Hopefully things will become clearer as the book progresses. At least so far it's been 99.9% Starfox-free.

Thanos having a fear of scalpels is a weird plot-twist. Warning: Not a joke.

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