Thursday, May 9, 2013

Wednesdaybusiness 5/8/13

This week I read every single Nü52 release. It made my head hurt. I'm not going to review them all, because bleargh.

You guys, I really never thought I'd become such a Marvel person.


Astonishing X-Men #62 by Marjorie Liu and Gabriel Hernandez Walta

Gonna' start off on a bit of a low note this week.

The tagline for this issue was "Iceman is changed after his multi-dimensional ordeal. What aftershocks will this have in his life?" Well, apparently these aftershocks include feeling up Mystique without her consent, and harassing all his ex-girlfriends. I guess this is all happening unconsciously or something, but I don't think that's a very good excuse.

The issue ends with a cut-away to some Avengers playing cards, and Thor suddenly goes catatonic and starts mumbling about the Fimbulvinter, so maybe Iceman is going to go all Omega-Level again and try to end all life on Earth? Frankly, after he acted all rapey in this issue, I'd like to see some superheroes knock him around.

This is not how superheroes should behave. Do I need to have a sit-down with every single comics writer?

Avengers #11 by Jonathan Hickman and Mike Deodato

I know it's still a bit early, but this MAY be my favorite single issue of the year.

Apparently A.I.M. is holding a secret super-weapon sale at a casino in China, and a group of Avengers attempt to infiltrate in their civilian identities to find out who the buyers are and confiscate said super-weapon. The story jumps between each Avenger and their various methods, and oh man it's so much fun.

Captain Marvel gets dealt into a poker game and tries to bluff some evil super-scientists. Cannonball and Sunspot hit the craps table, and end up befriending some rank-and-file A.I.M. beekeeper-goons. Spider-Woman and Black Widow start covertly grabbing people to interrogate, but then can't decide whether torture is okay or not; Black Widow is for, Spider-Woman is against. And Shang-Chi ends up fighting a shitload of ninjas, because OF COURSE HE DOES.

There is not a single thing in this comic that didn't make me nerd the heck out. I literally read it three times in a row. I love that Marvel NOW! is focusing so heavily on A.I.M. as they are totally my favorite villain group; They can function as funny or scary, sometimes in the exact same story. I love the character studies presented here. I love that we're being given a break from the beautiful-but-complicated storyline to spend some time relaxing in a casino. I love the art. I love the writing. I love anything with Shang-Chi in it, because he is the motherfucking Master of Kung-Fu.

If you're wandering into a comic shop any time soon, buy this issue. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

It was hard to pick just one highlight, but I really loved Doug, the snippy A.I.M. Agent.

Avengers Arena #9 by Dennis Hopeless and Kev Walker

It strikes me as a bit odd that this comic is becoming mostly about the kids from The Braddock Academy, since they were the characters invented solely for this comic and thus the ones I expected to get killed off first. Instead it's the well-established characters who are getting iced, and these new British kids who are dominating the storyline. I don't really mind; It's just a little surprising. I can imagine that when you create brand-new characters, you would sort of hope that they get a long life in their comic book universe.

Anyway, in this issue the kids keep killing eachother. Chase is still running around as Darkhawk, which is making a lot of fans really angry apparently. The real Darkhawk is still missing: Maybe dead? Nico and X-23 are still trying to keep the peace, but are mostly failing. Kev Walker is still killing it on the artwork.

This remains a comic that I can't look away from, even when it's mercilessly killing off characters that I like.

I just really hope Nico survives this thing.

Avengers Assemble #15(AU) by Al Ewing and Butch Guice

Oh, dear, another Age of Ultron tie-in story. I figured we'd be done with these, since last week's AoU issue was all about how this reality no longer exists, but I guess release schedules are getting us again.

This one takes place in London, with Captain Marvel helping out the remnants of MI:13 with... y'know... the whole Ultron thing.

Now, Captain Britain and MI:13 was one of my favorite comics of the last decade, and because of its unfortunate cancellation I was geeked to see some of the characters in ANY comic, in ANY reality, even this crappy one. I personally think that Faiza Hussain should be a member of the Avengers by this point; She wields the actual Excalibur for fuck's sake!

So in some ways this issue felt like a reunion with some old friends. However, it's an Age of Ultron tie-in, so most of those old friends are getting murdered horribly. Yeah.

Here's Captain Marvel dying. This crossover is no fun.

Batman and Robin Red Hood #20 by Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Cliff Richards

I'm really enjoying the whole idea that Batman lost his son, so now instead of his usual heroic insane, he's getting scary insane.

Ostensibly, he's taken Jason Todd along with him on a mission to maim and cripple the entire group of snipers responsible for Damian's death. But his ulterior motive is to get Jason to the exact spot where the Joker beat him to death with a crowbar, in the hopes that the trauma will conjure up some kind of memory of how he came back to life. This obviously sets off some triggers in Jason, and he - appropriately, in my opinion - beats the shit out of Batman, steals the Batmobile, and peaces out.

It's refreshing that this particular series just straight-up has nothing to do with the Nü52. I don't quite know how or why it dodged that particular bullet, but it's just plugging along like no reboot ever happened. Even despite getting renumbered, everything feels like it's in the DC Universe that I know and love. I hope it stays that way.

Also of note, Carrie Kelly has actually stuck around. In my review of last month's issue, I totally thought she was just a boneheaded gimmick for DC's fold-out cover promotion. However, in this issue Alfred has hired her on as Bruce Wayne's dog-walker, which makes me feel like she's actually being established as a supporting character. Whether she'll end up becoming Robin or not remains to be seen, but it's nice that it wasn't just the throw-away fan-pandering I thought it was.

Scary Batman is Scary.

Constantine #3 by Jeff Lemire, Ray Fawkes, and Renato Guedes

This remains a solid little comic about John Constantine. It still needs more swearing, and not calling it Hellblazer is a totally wimpy move, but I'm enjoying it.

Seriously, just call it Hellblazer, you wimps.

Deathstroke #20 by Tony Bedard, Justin Jordan, and Edgar Salazar

Apparently in the Nü52 they've retconned Jericho - who, and I know it's an odd choice, has always been my favorite Teen Titan - into a murderous supervillain. Also, apparently Mr. Majestic exists in the Nü52? I didn't even realize he was one of the Wildstorm characters that got folded into the new universe: I always thought he was an Image Comics character.

Anyway, Jericho has possessed the body of Mr. Majestic and is trying to kill his whole family, or something? And some of The Ravagers are there to stop him even though their book totally got cancelled this same week.

I dunno'. I only mention all this because it was kind of weird. Whatever.

I legit can't even identify most of the characters in this comic.

Fearless Defenders #4 by Cullen Bunn and Will Sliney

I'm still having a hard time getting into this series. I really want to, as I love a lot of the characters in this thing. And it's funny at times, and has decent action. It's just... It all feels weirdly forced.

Bottom line, I guess, is that it's a Girl Power book being written and drawn by dudes, so it all sort of rings vaguely false.

Wha-Krash, I suppose.

Justice League of America #3 by Geoff Johns and David Finch

So this issue was supposed to come out before Catwoman #19, I guess, but that comic came out almost a month ago. So the whole plot of this issue, including the teaser cover (which was supposed to be an April thing) is totally spoiled already if you actually keep up with this shit.

Ed Brubaker jokes pretty frequently on his Twitter about how he and Darwyn Cooke tried really hard to create a less sexualized, more functional costume for Catwoman, yet ever since they left she's been forgetting to zip the darned thing up. That's pretty apparent in this comic, where her breasts threaten to overwhelm the entire issue.

A few other brief notes:
  • The Justice League of America fought robot versions of the Justice League in this issue for no apparent reason at all.
  • It's really awkward when characters actually refer to the Justice League Dark in a sentence.
  • Stargirl is actually kind of awesome in this comic.
  • I still ragebarf whenever I see the tall, skinny Amanda Waller.

This was the only panel of this comic I actively enjoyed.

Secret Avengers #4 by Nick Spencer and Luke Ross

While I'm still not 100% behind the idea of a group of Avengers volunteering to be mind-wiped after every mission, this comic is pretty fun. It has clever dialog, plenty of action, and a lot of A.I.M. stuff, which - as I established earlier - I am a huge fan of.

This book does a good job of being a movie tie-in book without screaming MOVIE TIE-IN at you. It's got Agent Coulson and Maria Hill, but Quake is still the official director of S.H.I.E.L.D. It worked in the Iron Patriot armor, but not in any way similar to Iron Man 3. It's pretty well-done while still being a comic people can pick up and say I KNOW DESE GUYZ FROM DAT MOVIE!

In this issue, Bruce Banner joins the team to Hulksmash a ton of robots, while Nick Fury Junior leads a small team to attempt to assassinate A.I.M.'s Scientist Supreme. It's fun.

I get happy every time I see the words "A.I.M. Island".

Uncanny Avengers #8 by Rick Remender and Daniel Acuña

I am literally just going to copy/paste what I said about the previous issue:
This issue is a bit of a toss-up for me, personally. On the one hand, it's sort of being billed at the forefront of Marvel NOW! and yet would be completely, utterly baffling to a new reader. On the other hand, it's continuing the storyline from Remender's Uncanny X-Force run, which is one of my favorite comics from the last ten years.

It basically seems like this storyline will be very rewarding to anybody who followed several years worth of the author's previous work, but will severely alienate anybody who didn't. So it's good, while also not good? I don't know how to feel about it.

The writing's solid, though, and Acuña's art is REALLY pretty.
There isn't much more to say. If you didn't read Uncanny X-Force this book would make zero sense, but if you did, it's pretty great.

Acuña's art is really nice to look at, whether you know what's going on or not.

Uncanny X-Force #4 by Sam Humphries and Ron Garney

As much as I rave about Rick Remender's Uncanny X-Force, I wouldn't really recommend this iteration. It's basically a bunch of my favorite X-Men doing a whole lotta' nothing.

At one point Storm zapped Bishop with a big lightning bold and he started talking some sense, so maybe Bishop will finally go back to the way I like him instead of being a fanged, snarling beast-man?

I dunno'.

I thought this was kind of a nice moment.

Wolverine #3 by Paul Cornell and Alan Davis

I love Paul Cornell and Alan Davis. This comic is pretty fantastic. The plot is hard to describe beyond the idea that it's building up to some sort of big cosmic something. Also the writing is so self-aware that it runs the risk of becoming a sentient entity.

It's also the only comic addressing the fact that Nick Fury Junior has only been in the superhero business for like three months, which is fun.

"You DON'T know what The Watcher means."

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