Sunday, February 24, 2013

Wednesdaybusiness 2/20/13


I spent Wednesday the 20th immersed in Dwayne McDuffie's work. Then things got weird for a few days, and now I'm back. So here are my reviews for last week's comics.

There are a few books that I wanted to review - Captain Marvel, Thor: God of Thunder, Daredevil, X-Factor, and Captain America - where I still need to catch up on some back issues to know what the fuck's going on. But all of them seem quite good from what I've read so far. Expect to read my Opinions™ on those titles soon enough.


Nova #1 by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness

I'm gonna' start out with this week's biggest surprise.

Typically, if I see the names Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness on comics, I stay away. Jeph Loeb is the dude who wrote one of the most baffling X-Men comics of all time, wherein we learn that while humans evolved from apes, mutants evolved from wolves, and there will always be a large blonde wolf-person and a short brunette wolf-person, and there always has been, and that's why Wolverine has to chop off Sabretooth's head (At least that's what I took away from it. Don't bother correcting me because I don't care.). Ed McGuinness is the dude who draws Superman and Batman as though they are identical twins, and seems to think that all men have 2-foot-long arms and all women have eyes the size of grapefruits.

However, they've been promoting this new version of Nova since the beginning of Marvel NOW! as though it's going to be a flagship title, so I decided to check it out. And it was pretty good.

We haven't actually seen any superheroics yet, but we've gotten a new young character established... and established in such a way that he won't necessarily interfere with anything that's happened with the previous Nova character, which is a very good thing. We also get the return of Rocket Raccoon and Gamora, who I assume we'll be seeing a lot of in the year or so building up to the Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

The only thing that's a bit baffling is that this is very clearly the origin story of a new character... but we've already seen this character show up months ago, at the very beginning of the whole Avengers versus X-Men thing. I'm not quite sure what sort of "present" we're in here. But it doesn't particularly matter, I guess.

All in all, I'd say pick up this book. Get introduced to Sam Alexander, Marvel's newest in a long and wonderful line of brooding, troubled teenage superheroes.


Alpha: Big Time #1 by Joshua Fialkov and Nuno Plati

This comic was sort of the opposite of Nova for me. It's introducing an angsty teenage superhero into the Marvel Universe, but it didn't succeed in making me give a damn about him.

Alpha's a young jerk with superpowers, but not enough of a jerk to be interesting like The Hood. He's an inexperienced teenager with massive power, but is not too powerful or too inexperienced, which keeps him from being as fun as Invincible. And his whole schtick is that he can only use one superpower at a time, which is something that Ultra Boy has been rocking since 1962.

It feels weird to say it, but I honestly think that Nova - who is a legacy character through and through - felt far more original than this totally new character.

I don't really expect this guy to maintain his own title for very long. My best wish for Alpha is that he fades quietly into obscurity for about 10-20 years, then suddenly has a triumphant return at the hands of a really talented writer who makes him into something cool and interesting.


Savage Wolverine #2 by Frank Cho

I didn't quite know how to feel about the first issue of this series, as I couldn't quite tell if it was trying to be retro on purpose. This second issue delivered the point home a bit better, and it is definitely pretty fun.

I genuinely have NO IDEA how or where this comic is fitting into the Marvel Universe Continuity... and I think it's great. The first issue had Wolverine literally just fall out of the sky and plop into The Savage Land, where he is now running around with Shanna the She-Devil and fighting dinosaurs. That's, like, the whole plot. It's just pulpy adventure: It's like The Phantom with adamantium claws.

The dialogue is a little obnoxious with its quippiness, though I think that's intentional, and part of the charm. And I love the overwrought, melodramatic narration; it's straight out of the 1930s and makes me smile, even though I know it's all just smirky camp.

It's like Wolverine's dialogue is being written by Spaceman Spiff.


Indestructible Hulk #4 by Mark Waid and Leinil Yu

I'm just gonna' go ahead and say that Indestructible Hulk is an awesome series, and you should buy it. I'm not even going to summarize it for you. Just buy it.

The only thing about this issue that I'm going to tell you is that at one point a bunch of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents shove Bruce Banner into a torpedo tube and launch him at a sea-monster. Seriously, go buy it.


Superior Spider-Man #4 by Dan Slott and Giuseppe Camuncoli

Well, as I predicted last month, as soon as Mary Jane was removed from the story it got a lot more fun. I'm not quite sure why the book's already switched to a new artist so early in its life, but Camuncoli holds his own in the current semi-cartoonish Spidey status quo. He draws Spider-Man a little bulkier than I'd like, but it's not even close to Ed McGuinness bulky, so I can't really complain.

This issue advances the idea of Otto Octavius learning how to live Peter Parker's crummy life by having him find out - at a very inopportune time - that Parker never completed his Doctorate. Not only is he no longer an Octopus, he's no longer a Doctor either. So he goes back to college, and it is lovely.

The issue builds up the return of Massacre, a villain I'm not too fond of. His only "super power" is that he's brain-damaged, and incapable of feeling remorse, which... isn't totally okay with me. And beyond the ablist nature of the character, I also would much rather see Otto Spidey take on more classic Marvel villains. Thankfully, the Green Goblin shows up at the end of this issue, which is usually a welcome sight in a Spider-Man book, and especially in this one. I'm just hoping Massacre bums around murdering folks for one or two issues and then shuffles back off to the weird 1990s time-warp he popped out of.


Morbius: The Living Vampire #2 by Joseph Keatinge and Richard Elson

I didn't pick up this book when it first came out, because I kept hearing people saying how stupid it was and how it wasn't at all true to the character. But this week I got caught up on it and... I like it. I don't fucking get comic fans sometimes.

Dr. Michael Morbius is trying to lay low for a while in a bad neighborhood until some ugly business blows over and he can make his way back to his lab. He's living on the street, making friends with scrappy homeless people and occasionally ripping somebody's throat open. I dunno'... It's fun.



Dark Avengers #187 by Jeff Parker and Neil Edwards

 At this point, this book is so deep into the plot that it wouldn't make any sense at all to a new reader. That being said, I really look forward to this book every month, and think Jeff Parker is fucking excellent. I'd advise everybody to go back to the beginning of this series and start reading it, because it's been a good, solid, fun comic the whole way through.

Also, U.S. Agent is back! Most people probably don't care, but I do!


Avengers #6 by Jonathan Hickman and Adam Kubert

As I mentioned two weeks ago, this book sort of started out as an Avengers story, and then morphed into a series of one-shots introducing new members of the team and going over their origin stories. This one's about the new Captain Universe, which feels completely unnecessary given the fact that Captain Universe can literally be somebody totally different tomorrow. The transient nature of the character is what makes hir interesting, so I hope they don't plan to tie hir down to this one host-body for too long.

I really liked where this story was headed, but I feel like it's kind of ground to a halt, and I really want it to pick back up. Right now everyone's just sort of wandering around telling eachother their backstories while Tony Stark tinkers away on the plot in his little lab.

One thing that was interesting about this issue: There was a brief scene of Spider-Man being an absolute bully towards Cannonball and Sunspot, and I was surprised and offended until I remembered that Spidey is walking around with the mind of Doctor Octopus. I think somebody picking this book up in trade five years from now might be very put off by that scene if it's lacking the context of the Marvel NOW! promotional blitz.


Justice League of America #1 by Geoff Johns and David Finch

You guys... I don't think I'm ever going to stop laughing at this cover. The Justice League of New Hampshire, you guys! Seriously, you guys... seriously. This is a thing that was published and sold in stores. It is... the best thing.

As for the comic itself... I hated it.

I am really trying to find a DC comic that I can say positive things about on this blog, but everything is 17 issues deep, and things have already gotten surprisingly convoluted in that 17 months, and any time I think I see a jumping-on point the comic ends up being terrible.

So this story is about tall, skinny Amanda Waller (who is sort of like my favorite DC villain, except they traded "interesting character" for "generic sexy person who doesn't really ever do anything but pose sexily") putting together a sort-of-but-not-really Suicide Squad, with Steve Trevor as a sort-of-but-not-really Rick Flag Junior, to fight the other Justice League. Oh, but not the other Justice League like Justice League Dark or Justice League International... the other Justice League of America. I guess. I was skimming. Also, Martian Manhunter is like a scary semi-villainous guy now? I didn't know that.

Anyway, whenever I see the Nü52 version of Amanda Waller, all I can see if a red wave of ragevision for a little while, so I missed most of the story, which had an awful lot of words. The art was busy and had a lot of cross-hatching, and all the men were gritting their teeth and all the women showed me their butts.


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