Thursday, April 11, 2013

Wednesdaybusiness 4/10/13

I've got some cheap wine, I've got some Boards of Canada albums loaded into iTunes... Let's talk about comics.


Age of Ultron #5 by Brian Michael Bendis and Bryan Hitch

I don't have much to say about this issue. It's a typical Bendis-y comic where it takes an entire issue for the characters to stand around and discuss their plans. Bendis apparently never took a semester of highschool creative writing like I did, so he never learned the "show, don't tell" rule.

The story also remains relentlessly grim and depressing. I literally regard reading this comic as a chore I have to complete every week. As expected, others are already starting to tell me it's one of their favorite comics.


This is the most exciting panel I could find.

Avengers Assemble #14(AU) by Al Ewing and Butch Guice

Usually a really fun, lighthearted comic, this issue takes Avengers Assemble into the Age of Ultron to bum us all out.

Basically, this issue explains how Black Widow got that funky-fresh scar on her face, and how she tricked Moon Knight into being her sidekick. Hint: It all has to do with Ultron taking over the world.

Not seen: Any sort of Avenging.

Ultron #1(AU) by Kathryn Immonen and Amilcar Pinna

In case you were wondering if I'm a fan of Age of Ultron... I'm not. Case in point: I actually got a little excited to see Kathryn Immonen - one of my favorite comic writers - doing a Runaways themed story. It seemed like it couldn't miss.

Unless, of course, the whole story is about Victor Mancha slowly losing his robotic mind after all the other Runaways were killed gruesomely.

Victor tried to atone by saving a bunch of kids during the Ultron-apocalypse, but then most of them got killed gruesomely too.

The end.

Age of Ultron is apparently never allowed to be fun.

Okay, we're done with Age of Ultron for the week, so we're finally able to reclaim some of the joy we lost in our lives.

Avengers Arena # 7 by Dennis Hopeless and Alessandro Vitti

This issue was an interesting departure. It completely steps away from the main narrative to provide a sort-of origin story for the new and improved, Battle Royale obsessed version of Arcade we've been seeing in this book.

I've said it a few times already, but this comic really had to win me over from a point of 0% interest, and it has managed to completely hook me. And because I am a dude who REALLY likes Arcade as a character, I loved seeing this issue's take on how he ended up orchestrating this particular death-trap.

One thing I really respect about the way this book is being written is that it wears its influences on its sleeve. It was very clearly a comic based on an editorial mandate: Marvel wanted to cash in on the current Hunger Games / Battle Royale craze, and drafted the concept of the book by committee. But by having Arcade constantly and openly talk about how he was totally inspired for all this by reading Battle Royale, it mitigates some of that Corporate feeling and makes the story feel a lot more organic and character-driven.

I could honestly read an entire ongoing solo title about Arcade, but I am still eager to see what's going on with the kids next issue.

I need one of those giant hammers.

Avengers #9 by Jonathan Hickman, Dustin Weaver, and Mike Deodato

Ex Nihilo has summoned Starbrand and Nightmask to Mars so he can explain that he's trying to turn the Earth sentient. He then sends them to go check on the giant brain he's growing. Starbrand gets in a big old fight with the Avengers, and only loses because he doesn't want to hurt them. In the end, Starbrand and Nightmask agree to go live in the partially-constructed Dyson Sphere that Tony Stark's been working on over in New Avengers.

Hickman's clearly got big plans for his two Avengers books, much like he did a few years back on his two Fantastic Four books. I fear that these comics will get more and more difficult to explain as they go on and begin to overlap more and more... but they are REALLY FUN.

It's a brain made of alien worms. DUH, Smasher.

Avenging Spider-Man #19 by Christopher Yost and Marco Checchetto

I haven't actually been following this comic, but I have a weird weakness for comics with Sleepwalker in them. I don't really know why.

Thankfully - since I was jumping in at issue nineteen - this story was a one-off that leaps right into the action, with Otto/Spidey already locked in psychic battle with some sort of nightmare demon and Sleepwalker trying to restrain the possessed Spider-Man in the real world.

In the dream world, we get to see a lot of Doc Ock's fears and daddy issues get played out, and in the end he gets his first glimpse at the mental remains of Peter Parker that are still living at the edges of his consciousness. This actually feels pretty important, so I'm glad I picked this one up. Also, Sleepwalker. I just like that guy.

No mercy for dream monsters.

Batman and Red Robin #19 by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason

I am really loving these dopey "WTF" fold-out covers that DC is doing this month. Though I think it was kind of a weenie-move to pull the actual "WTF" logo at the last minute. If you're gonna' put the word "fuck" on a Batman cover, just fuckin' go for it!

Anyway, this cover poses the question: Is the Dark Knight's new partner... Carrie Kelley?! The answer is... Nope. Sorry for the spoiler!

Nah, she was actually just Damian's English tutor, and she wore a Robin costume to a party one time. And... that's it. It doesn't seem like she's even going to become a recurring character or anything. Yyyyyup.

However, aside from the diversionary tactics of the cover, this comic was quite fun overall. Batman's not dealing very well with losing another Robin, especially one that was his son. So he tracks down Frankenstein's Monster to dissect him and figure out how to do the same to his dead kid... Which, frankly, is pretty awesome. Needless to say, Red Robin doesn't approve, but eventually it's the half-dissected Monster himself who convinces Batman that the life of a Frankenstein is no kind of life for a young boy.

I mean, this is obviously all going to all end with Damian being resurrected in one of his grandfather's Lazarus Pits - if you're directly related to a character whose ENTIRE DEAL is that he can come back from the dead, it's basically a given - but until then we may as well enjoy the crazy ride!

Awkward Conversation is Awkward.

Constantine #2 by Ray Fawkes, Jeff Lemire, and Renato Guedes

Another of DC's "WTF" covers that doesn't pay off. Constantine does meet The Spectre, and they talk for a bit, but Constantine does not so much die, or even, like, get a runny nose or anything.

Like Batman and Red Robin, however, once you get past the silly conceit of the publisher-mandated cover art, you actually hit a pretty solid story. John Constantine is trying to track down the pieces of some sort of mystical compass, and all of his usual magical enemies are trying to murder him in gruesome and creative ways, which is exactly how I like my Hellblazer stories to be.

My enjoyment of this particular comic does come with my standard Nü52 caveat, though. The characters all have costumes that are about 35% uglier than you remember them being, they often have powers and abilities they didn't before, and sometimes they're just entirely different people than you may recall.

Like, I have no idea why Fawkes and Lemire decided to turn Mister E into some sort of Colonel Sanders-esque Southern dandy, but that's what they went ahead and did. Also, I know that The Spectre's costume has always been a cape and underpants, and I get that that's not really an excellent starting point, but somehow he looks even sillier in his Nü52 apparel: Why'd he cover his whole body with belts?

Those are all just minor Nü52 gripes at the end of the day, though. The one real problem I had was that they all danced around saying the word "God" regarding The Spectre, instead using terms like "your boss" as a dodge. I understand that it doesn't represent a standard Christian theology, and some folks may get offended by it I guess, but c'mon. The Spectre's been around since 1939: If people are going to flip out about his origin story, they probably would have by now.

I get disproportionately angry when people write a Southern accent phonetically.

Fantastic Four #6 by Matt Fraction and Mark Bagley

The Fantastic Four go back in time to watch the Big Bang. It turns out that a future version of Blastaar the Living Bomb-Burst has been sent there as well to be executed for his crimes against the intergalactic community. The Fantastic Four try to save him, he tries to kill them, they kick his ass.

There isn't really a whole lot more I can say about this one. But it was a very entertaining read. I love the way Fraction is playing with these one-off stories after years of extremely complex Fantastic Four books.

The Invisible Woman is one of my favorite superheroes. There. I said it.

Fearless Defenders #3 by Cullen Bunn and Will Sliney

You know, I think I'm just gonna' repeat what I said about this comic last month:

As for the story itself, it's starting to feel like the first year+ of this series is just going to be them assembling the team. I have some mixed feelings about this: On the one hand, it makes for some occasionally pretty boring stories; but on the other hand, it means Marvel's invested in this book for the foreseeable future, and I really like that. Marvel is being bold, and taking risks on some oddball, character-driven stories without a specific "commercial" draw right now, which is something that big companies are often afraid to do in any entertainment medium. I respect that. So while this isn't anywhere near my favorite comic on the shelves, I think it really sums up what I am loving about the whole Marvel NOW! project.
Aside from the addition of Hippolyta, who is now going by the handle of Warrior Woman (because comics don't always need to be subtle, and I appreciate that about them), not much else happened. They're still basically just building the team, but I am becoming gradually more hopeful about the future of this book the more of it I read. Once the team gets a bit more complete, I think some great adventures can be had.


Green Lantern Corps #19 by Peter J. Tomasi and Fernando Pasarin

This "WTF" comic actually didn't have any dishonesty on the cover's fold-out, which was nice... though it kind of spoils the ending?

This was part ten of a ten-part story that I didn't read, so I'm not even going to pretend to know what was going on. But Mogo does indeed come through for his fellow Green Lanterns in the clutch, just like the cover implies, and that was good enough for me.

Hey, look! A DC book that isn't all grim and gritty! HOLY YAY!

Hawkeye #9 by Matt Fraction and David Aja

A (somewhat late) Valentine's Day issue, this comic's all about how bad Hawkguy is with women. If you think that sounds boring, you probably haven't been reading about Hawkguy, and you need to start. Seriously. Seriously, bro. Bro, seriously.

Mockingbird's in a robe and towel because she just finished kicking the shit out of some mobsters in the rain. FYI.

Secret Avengers #3 by Nick Spencer and Luke Ross

I am really coming around to this comic. I'm a huge fan of all things A.I.M.-related, so their building of a new, super-powered High Council for S.H.I.E.L.D. and affiliated superheroes to duke it out with is just right up my alley.

Also, I was quite happy to see Daisy Johnson (a.k.a. Quake) actually acting the part of Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. for the first time in a while. She's been in charge the whole time, but Maria Hill got to be in the movie, so she's sort of been at the forefront since then. And I know I talk my share of shit about Bendis on this blog, but he really does have a knack for creating genuinely compelling and strong female characters.

If this series continues in the direction it's headed, it could well become one of my favorite comics on the stands. It's already winning me over on the idea of Nick Fury Junior, it's funny, it has a lot of action, and it's working in characters and concepts that are frequently a hit with me. I will be keeping a close eye on this one.

I don't really have a comment for this, lol.

Uncanny Avengers #6 by Rick Remender and Daniel Acuña

Remender is beginning to tie this book into his amazing Uncanny X-Force run, and I - for one - am very happy about that. Remender is quite honestly the first writer who has ever made me give a damn about Apocalypse as a supervillain, and I quite like the idea of elevating his status from X-Men Villain to General Marvel Comics Villain. It's a leap that some characters just can't make, unfortunately, but I think Apocalypse can do it.

This issue takes place entirely in the past, where Kang the Conqueror is getting up to some time-traveling mischief, apparently meddling in a battle between younger versions of Thor and Apocalypse. The issue is mostly fight-scenes, and I am absolutely fine with that. Acuña's art is tremendous in this. I was going to also praise the inking and coloring as being outstanding, but it seems that Acuña handles that as well? Consider me impressed.

"The attack is intended to remove skull from spine."

Uncanny X-Men #4 by Brian Michael Bendis and Chris Bachalo

Um. This comic basically tells the exact same story as last week's issue of All-New X-Men, also written by Bendis. It's... not entirely necessary.

The only bit that stuck with me was Cyclops' new group of untrained mutant teens stumbling into the Danger Room without knowing what it was. That was a fun scene, and I really like the new characters in this series. I hope they have a decent X-Career ahead of them.


Wolverine #2 by Paul Cornell and Alan Davis

The story here is still maintaining a bit of mystery, making it hard to talk too much about. Basically, there is some sort of malevolent alien(?) intelligence taking over civilians and making them do evil things, and Wolverine's trying to track it down. In this issue, he gets some help from S.H.I.E.L.D.

I am very much enjoying this book, and am a huge fan of both Paul Cornell and Alan Davis. I know there is no shortage of Wolverine stuff on the shelves right now, but this is a comic worth checking out.

I laughed.

X-Treme X-Men #13 by Greg Pak, Guillermo Mogorron, and Raul Valdez

I'll just go ahead and admit it: I wasn't emotionally ready for ANOTHER Nightcrawler to die yet. Now we're down to just one, the Nightcrawler from the Age of Apocalypse universe, and I really hope he gets to stick around.

Prior to checking out this issue, I did finally go back and read the first twelve issues of X-Treme X-Men, and I'm really glad I did. This has been a really great series that's been flying under the radar. The idea of Dazzler leading a team of extra-dimensional X-Men (including a sexy leatherboy version of Wolverine who's in a serious relationship with his reality's Hercules) to kill Ten Evil Xaviers - including Magician Xavier, Cowboy Xavier, Steampunk Xavier, etc. - is basically a comic designed exactly for me.

I'm sad that this is the last issue, and even sadder to see that they seem to be killing many of the characters off, but I remain interested to see how the rest of the X-Termination event plays out. It would appear that they're going to transform the Age of Apocalypse Jean Grey into the new Apocalypse to do battle against the Celestial-devouring blue guys that were unleashed on the multiverse, and that has the potential to be VERY cool.

BAMF on, Kurt Waggoner.


  1. Hawkeye was definitely dead at one point, right? Wasn't Mockingbird dead at one point, too? Did they get re-married after that? Because wouldn't the whole "'til death do us part" thing invalidate their marriage? Or, I dunno, does it just start back up when they're pronounced alive again?
    If Marvel's version of Social Security hasn't instituted a special "superhero 'death' department" yet, that should really happen.

    I think I need to start reading X-Treme X-Men.

    1. Yeah, superhero marriage is a weird thing. I mean, Red She-Hulk HAS taken "til death do us part" literally, and no longer considers herself Bruce Banner's wife. So there IS some legal precedent!