Thursday, March 21, 2013

Wednesdaybusiness 3/20/13

This was definitely a HOLYSHITGOTTOREADALLTHECOMICS sort of week, so I'ma just launch into my weekly reviews. Is this getting boring? Well fuck you, I don't care.


All-New X-Men #9 by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen

I am really happy Stuart Immonen is back on this book. As good as David Marquez is, Immonen was the reason I first picked this one up. Considering that I judge all comics on the Nextwave Standard™, the presence of Immonen's art gives this book a huge leg up.

And I really have to say - as somebody who complains about the guy a lot - Bendis is really nailing this series. It's occasionally a little slow to action, and there are often a ton of word balloons around the place, but it's absolutely the best thing he's written in quite some time.

This issue introduces the Teen X-Men to the schmancy, Holodeck-esque Danger Room, which is a great way to get some of the talky-business out of the way while also keeping the pages interesting to look at. We also get to see Mystique apparently forming a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, which is good news to me.

I'm quite enjoying this series. I'm not so thrilled by Uncanny X-Men, or any of the other books Bendis is writing right now, but this one is something I look forward to each month.

Action! In a Bendis book!

Avengers #8 by Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, Hickman is bringing back the New Universe through his Avengers books, and I absolutely could not be more stoked about that.

When I was a nerdly youth, I - for some reason - followed along when they were trying to merge the New Universe books into the Marvel Universe Proper. I actually don't really remember much of that storyline, but I always wondered why nobody ever really did anything with the characters. It's good to see one of my favorite writers fixing that.

One thing I absolutely love about both of Hickman's current Avengers books is that he is telling epic, universe-in-jeopardy type stories, but with no overhyped crossovers or anything surrounding them. It's reminiscent of Grant Morrison's JLA run (very high praise, coming from me): When you have a group this big, with this much power, every day should be something massive and epic, and it doesn't necessarily have to be passed down by editors and splash all over every other comic in order to feel massive and epic.


Cable and X-Force by Dennis Hopeless and Salvador Larroca

Last issue I said I was bailing on this series, but when I saw that this one had a ton of Colossus / Shadowcat melodrama, I couldn't pass it up. I don't know why, but I really enjoy that. Scott and Jean always bored me, Rogue and Gambit usually make me want to barf, but when Piotr and Kitty get all moony I totally get into it. This is against my better judgment: Wasn't Kitty like 12 when they first hooked up? But I'm still a sucker for it.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, I tend to grade comics against the Nextwave Standard™, and this is the first comic I've seen Boom-Boom in since then where she wasn't somehow being victimized or rescued. Here she's helping her old friend Domino break into a top secret S.W.O.R.D. facility beneath The Raft, and she's back to being her fun, dippy, destructive self.

Dennis Hopeless reeled me back in, and that is absolutely to his credit.

"I gave him the explodo because I am clever."

Captain America #5 by Rick Remender and John Romita Junior

God, I don't even know if a description can do this comic justice. Cap has been stranded in Arnim Zola's "Dimension Z" for about twelve years, raising Zola's son as his own and protecting a tribe of giant mutant monsters, all while trying to hide the fact that Zola straight-up implanted a TV screen in his chest that constantly taunts him in Zola's voice.

In this issue, his hiding comes to an end, as Zola has tracked him down. Now he's gotta' fight off Zola, his armies, and his maladjusted daughter who thinks Cap is a monster who murdered her baby brother.

Guys, you're gonna' want to read this.

If this doesn't grab your interest, we shouldn't be friends anymore.

Captain Marvel # 11 by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Christopher Sebela, and Felipe Andrade

It will likely surprise absolutely nobody that I'm enjoying this comic. Carol Danvers is one of my favorite characters, and Kelly Sue DeConnick is one of my favorite writers, so it's kind of a no-brainer.

Captain Marvel is being prevented from flying - the one thing real constant in her life - by the risk of an aneurism in her alien-modified brain. It's some complicated fakey medical stuff, just go with it. She's learning how to super-strength jump, and Captain America gave her one of his old flying motorcycles, but she's still not handling it well. And she's fighting Deathbird, a character whose ENTIRE THING is flying.

Except it's not really the Deathbird we've seen the past few years in War of Kings and whatnot. It's some sort of mid-1980s Deathbird, which is a mystery that Captain Marvel needs to solve.

Beyond all the superhero stuff, I really love the supporting cast that DeConnick is assembling for Captain Marvel. She's pulling people from her military career, her time as editor of Woman Magazine, and her various Avengers stints. This issue also brings in Dakota North, a character that I don't think gets used anywhere near often enough. I think the last time she showed up in a comic was during Ed Brubaker's amazing and oft-slept-on Daredevil run of a few years ago. She's teaching Carol how to drive a flying motorcycle. I gladly welcome her back into my superhero life.

I love it when a sound-effect is used so well.


Constantine #1 by Ray Fawkes, Jeff Lemire, and Renato Guedes

Okay kids, brace yourself: I read a Nü52 book this week and I didn't hate it. I KNOW, RIGHT?!

I picked this book up at the urging of MC Lovely, who is an avid Nü52 supporter and the only person who really keeps me informed of what's going on in DC Comics nowadays.

While the book still has that disorienting Nü52 alternate-universe feel, the character of Constantine is spot-on. It's definitely a "T for Teen" book, so he doesn't quite smoke or curse enough, but he sloppily cobbles together spells and lets his friends get gruesomely murdered like an asshole, so that's alright. There's nothing quite so excellent as the time Swamp Thing popped out of his weed stash and he straight-up smoked a piece of Swamp Thing... but that's a high bar to hit.

The art also avoids the Nü52 retro-1990s feel, and is actually a bit more loose and reminiscent of the oldschool Vertigo books, which is really how John Constantine looks best. The super-crisp picture of him on the cover just doesn't look RIGHT to me.

Anyway, if there are any DC books that you're way into, drop me a line in the comments. I really don't like how Marvel-centric this blog is, but they're the ones putting out most of the best cape comics right now.

I wish I'd find a bulletproof cape. Then I'd show EVERYBODY.

Dark Avengers #188 by Jeff Parker and Neil Edwards

As far as the storyline of this book goes, I'm just going to repeat what I said last issue:
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.
To those that have been following along: We're finally starting to get a feel for what's going on with this alternate reality stuff. And it is wacky A.I.M. shit! I am totally serious when I say that I absolutely never, ever get tired of seeing wacky A.I.M. shit turn up in my Marvel comics. I feel like the Marvel NOW! initiative has had the unintended consequence of creating a sort of A.I.M. renaissance, and I am really happy about that.

Karl's Quantum Positioner didn't re-synch fast enough.

Indestructible Hulk #5 by Mark Waid and Leinil Francis Yu

This is easily one of my favorite comics in a long time, and in this issue the Hulk manages to defeat Attuma in a way that is so clever that I genuinely don't want to spoil it here. Go read this thing. It's a good one.

This issue also features some INCREDIBLE supervillain monologues from Attuma, the would-be ruler of Atlantis. I really enjoyed how melodramatic he's being: Is it weird that I only like the character of Attuma when he's ranting?

Also, I've been seeing Walt Simonson posting art from the next arc on his Facebook page, and it seems to involve the Hulk wielding Thor's hammer. I'm pretty siked for that.


New Avengers #4 by Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting

It's probably getting tiresome, but I really can't stop gushing about Hickman's Avengers books right now. As I said above, they're weaving a self-contained universe-spanning crossover, and it's a lot of fun.

The Illuminati have crossed the threshold to another Earth, to see what can be done to prevent the destruction of Earth-616... only to find it being devoured by that universe's Galactus.

Black Bolt is the first to notice the presence of the World-Devourer, and - being the Silent King of the Inhumans - he opts to point it out to the others in a two-panel sequence that made me laugh really hard. I may be mistaken, but I think this may have been the first time Black Bolt's ever been funny to me (even with the name Blackagar Boltagon, I usually take him pretty seriously). It was beautiful. Kudos to Hickman and Epting for managing to pull of such a subtle-yet-fun moment.

I may make a GIF of this.

Nova #2 by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness

Still surprised to find myself reading a Loeb/McGuinness joint. Still alarmed to find myself enjoying it quite a bit. I'm genuinely looking forward to seeing where this story goes.

Shockingly, I feel the same way.

Savage Wolverine #3 by Frank Cho

As much as I usually like the character, I feel like the inclusion of Amadeus Cho in this series is sort of gumming up the pulp fun with a whole bunch of pop-culture references. He's too modern a character for this book, which last month I said was "like The Phantom with adamantium claws."

However, it's still a very fun comic, both silly and way-overly-serious in perfectly equal measures.

It was a tough choice between this image, and one of Wolvie getting his head eaten by a dinosaur.

Superior Spider-Man #6 by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos

 I probably got WAY TOO EXCITED to see Humberto Ramos back on Spider-Man. Sometimes I have a tendency to get WAY TOO EXCITED about things. But there are certain artists that I just think fit with certain characters - Steve Dillon with The Punisher, Steve Epting with Captain America, Tim Sale with Batman, etc. - and Ramos absolutely feels that way when he's drawing Spidey.

In this issue, Superior Spidey finds himself up against a couple of Amazing Spidey's goofier foes, and as we well know from decades of comics, Otto Octavius does not take humiliation well. Consequently, he beats the FUCK out of them. This represents an interesting turning-point for the comic, because the character of Screwball tends to live-stream her "pranks" on the internet, so everybody saw Spidey go apeshit. Now the Avengers are looking to take him down. FUN!

One small concern: The ad copy for this issue read "The new super villain duo, JESTER & SCREWBALL, are punking heroes across the internet." With all of the controversy that surrounded the wonky sexual politics of the first two issues of this series, do you REALLY want to go and use prison-rape slang in your promo materials, Marvel? FUCKING GET WITH IT YOU GUYS.


X-Termination Part One by David Lapham, Marjorie Liu, Greg Pak, and David Lopez

This comic's a bit of a question-mark for me. I picked it up because it's a Big Event Comic in the X-Verse, and I really like what's been going on in the X-Verse lately. But... I didn't actually realize how many X-Men comics there WERE. I genuinely had NO IDEA that X-Treme X-Men was still a thing, let alone a thing where Dazzler leads a team of extra-dimensional mutants, which is a thing that I'd totally be reading. I also didn't know that Astonishing X-Men was still ongoing, either. There are characters in this thing that I've literally never seen before in my life, and I thought I was doing a really good job keeping up with the X-Men right now!

So in a nutshell, Wolverine is leading a slightly ragtag group of X-Men (who are apparently the team he leads in the Astonishing series?) to track down the asshole Nightcrawler from the Age of Apocalypse universe for all the jerkface shit he pulled during Uncanny X-Force. Meanwhile, Nightcrawler goes to Dark Beast - the only person he knows from his dimension - to try and find a way home.

Dark Beast hatches a plan involving the bigass unconscious Celestial that alleged-genius Neil Gaiman plopped down in San Francisco during his unreadably-boring Eternals series and never actually did anything with. Nightcrawler and McCoy teleport into the thing's head, McCoy does some mad science to it, and a portal opens up. But then the X-Men show up and wreck the deal, tearing the universe a new space-hole. Now there are a fuckton of X-Characters from a handful of different dimensions all panicking about it, and we're left on a cliffhanger.

All in all, pretty good stuff. I feel like I might have some catching up to do on my X-Books, though.


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