The difference between Grant Morrison and Warren Ellis is that Ellis knows how to coherently conveys his whacked out ideas. I think if this had been a Morrison story, I’d feel stupid after reading it. What this is is a clever Sherlock Holmes story that takes place in London in the early days of the 20th century. Oh, and space travel is possible. And England is at war. All that, though, is only background to the murder mystery. Ellis deftly weaves his interest in future science with his knowledge of the past, London, and popular fiction. The artist, Gianluca Pagliarani, is new to me. I thought his characters were a bit muddy, but his backgrounds and locations were expertly detailed.
Amazing Spider-Man #575
"Sweet ghost of Charleton Heston!"
Hammerhead is now a force to be reckoned with. I never thought I’d type or say that. Props to Joe Kelly for that. I’ve never thought that Hammerhead was a viable villain for Spidey. He’s got metal plate in his head? Fine, you hit him in the gut or the face or just web him up. Hell, he was more frightening as a ghost. Now his schtick is gone, and he’s just a badass.
Avengers: The Initiative #18
This is the best non-Brian Michael Bendis written Avengers book out there. I’d also say that, because it has an actual focus and doesn’t have to jump to various war campaigns, it’s a better read than the actual Secret Invasion mini-series. I like the military aspect of this crossover. You’ve got Nick Fury and his new soldiers and the Skrull Kill Krew and their guerilla tactics.
Battlefields: The Night Witches #1
If you’re a WWII enthusiast and haven’t read any of Garth Ennis’ war comics, then you’re doing yourself a disservice. I can’t speak as to the authenticity of the work, but it’s so prolific, so visceral, so moving, you just have to assume that the man has done tons of research. This book focuses on an all-female Russian bomber regiment. According to Wikipedia, "It was the most highly-decorated unit in the Soviet Air Force, each pilot having flown over 1,000 missions by the end of the war and twenty-three having been awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union title." Ennis also seems to have a type of artist that he likes to use. Russ Braun, the guy who’s drawing this mini, to me looks like a cross between Steve Dillon (Ennis’ go-to guy) and Howard Chaykin (War is Hell: The First Flight of the Phantom Eagle).
Captain America: Theater of War - Operation: Zero Point #1
"Bottle it fraulein. I don’t have all day."
Another great WWII story this week. Since I’ve only been a fan of Cap since Brubaker took over the title, I’m not up on how he used to be presented in flashbacks or even in his Golden Age appearances. I always thought of him as a boyscout, even during the war. It may be a total fallacy, but in my mind, these flashbacks with Cap using a gun is a relatively recent thing, but I like it. It wouldn’t have made sense if he were on the frontlines during WWII with just a colorful shield and no other offensive weapons. This story is very simple and very easy to get through, and it still shows us why Cap is the greatest soldier.
Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1
Johns is building up this Blackest Night storyline even more than he did the Sinestro Corps War, and I’m taking all the bait. The Lantern spectrum is blowing me away, and I’m enjoying how he’s making each color of the spectrum individual rather than just a Green Lantern clone. I’m glad we’re seeing a Blue Lantern. I want to see what this guy is all about. He recharged Hal’s ring, and up to 200%?
Angel: After the Fall #13
Okay, so Spike didn’t actually get staked, or he was resurrected...again? That part’s a bit unclear to me. Cordelia’s death was a bit rough. I was hoping Angel and the gang would be able to keep the dragon a bit longer. They’re really starting to thin the heard. First Cordy, then sorta Spike, then Gwen, and lastly Fred. I guess we’ll find out next issue if Illyria can actually die while she is Fred.
Incredible Hercules #122
It’s a testament to Pak’s writing that he can go from two pretty heavy and serious stories (Planet Hulk and World War Hulk) to the light-hearted fare that this book is now. The interplay between Herc, Cho and anyone they come in contact with is excellent. And the flashbacks and references to Herc’s mythological tales are a great touch. I’d love to see what Pak can do in other circles of the Marvel Universe.
Joker Hardcover Graphic Novel
"Abner...you’re scaring the fish."
Azzarello and Bermejo? On a story about the Joker? It’s a can’t miss. Forget the $19.99 price tag; it’s well worth it. Bermejo seemed to be influenced heavily by Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker, which is the most compelling portrayal I’ve seen since, well, that I’ve EVER seen. To me, the Joker never worked when he was slap-stick silly. He worked when he was bat-shit (no pun intended) crazy. The appearance and body language that Bermejo gave Joker just screamed Ledger. And I could hear him saying all of Azzarello’s words in that even, never losin’ it voice that Ledger used. I’m assuming this is an Elseworlds story, unless Azzarello and Bermejo were allowed to redesign Batman’s rogues gallery.
What a great and fast-paced issue. We’ve got the Worldmind back. We’ve got Quasar back somewhat. We’ve got the seeds of Death’s Head II planted. And we’ve got the return of the Nova Corps, which I’m hoping will be the focus of the next issue. I love it when forgotten heroes are brought into stories and used well and not just as cannon fodder. Nova really grew up through both Annihilation stories, and he’s carrying his own series well.
No Hero #2
It looks like we’ll be getting into the really good stuff next issue, as this was pretty much all talk, but good talk. We get a couple of nuggets about what it’s like to have powers, we learn that others are trying to replicate the power pill, and we learn a bit about what happened to Judex. I was surprised at the minimal amount of blood and gore in the issue, the Ryp made it all better in the end. It’s what I think of when his name is brought up.
Project Superpowers: Chapter Two Prelude
I love looking at Alex Ross’ raw pencil drawings, and I love books like this. These sketches are accompanied by brief character descriptions of people we’ll see in Chapter Two. Nothing meaty here, but nice to look at and teasable for the next book.
The Boys #24
"Dude, I think you got shit on the phone...!"
Now we’re getting into Ennis’ version of Marvel’s X-stable of heroes. Hughie is undercover with G-Wiz, who are the equivalent to the New Mutants or X-Force or something like that. We learn that they’re the ones who have been prank calling The Seven, and Hughie and his super gal almost have a run in. At the same time, M.M. is investigating Silver Kincaid’s death. So there’s lots going on in this storyline. Robertson’s artwork is as excellent as always, and Ennis effectively splits up the book between the different characters without making it seem like the book is overflowing with characters (ahem, New Warriors).
While Thor is in New York to visit with Jane and Captain America, Balder is doing his best to rule in Thor’s absence. It’s too bad that his main council is Loki. He seems to be doing a good job, but Loki is a master of guile and treachery, so why would anyone believe that just because he’s received a mystical sex change he’s also received a major personality change, too? Balder should know that no good will come of this, and he should be more suspicious after the needless death in Asgard. I’m enjoying JMS’s writing here, and Copiel’s art is beautiful. His rendition of Cap at the memorial was great, too. He looked similar to his Paradise X self.
Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #3
Some of the best stories of this series don’t have anything at all to do with Spider-Man, but are regular character interactions, mostly Pete and MJ. The pages of them together were better than any of the Mysterio pages. I don’t know if this is really how teenagers act or talk today, but it’s close enough to how I acted and talked in high school (half my life ago) that it resonates (although I can’t really sympathize with the subject matter).
Wolverine is leading a team of X-characters and he ISN’T the most blood-thirsty one on the team. It’s amazing that with all the violence going on, there’s still room for character development. And the theme of the book seems to be inner turmoil. Good stories, dark art, vicious cast, great combination.
Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes #1
I guess this is an Alterniverse kind of thing. The first story shows us what would have happened had the X-Men not succeeded in Chaparanga Beach. It’s pretty much the standard anti-mutant future with Sentinels and everything. The second story reminded me a LOT of Ellis’ other work this week, Aetheric Mechanics, but put Emma in the role of Holmes, or Raker if you want to get technical. I hope this ends up having some bearing on the actual series. If not, as with any alternate universe story, what’s the point? I know, I know, good storytelling should always be the point, but sometimes you want a payoff, y’know?
Captain Action #1
It wasn’t necessarily a bad issue, but I was a bit lost. I was into the third story before I realized it was an anthology and not three separate Captain Action tales. As an introductory story, they weren’t good. But had I known CA’s history, the first story at least might have been very good. I’m still going to check it out, though. It shows a lot of promise.
Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1/35
Decent issue overall, there just wasn’t anything about it (okay, I’ll always think Mike McKone’s artwork is excellent) that just jumped out at me. We learn Jackpot’s origin, but after her first few appearance, I don’t think anyone actually believed she was MJ. It’s nice seeing the annuals back, but I miss some things. I usually always liked the pin-ups, sometimes the back-up stories were clever, and these two sections were often done by writers or artists who either weren’t known for the character they were doing, or were a classic writer/artist of the character that hadn’t worked on them for a long time.
Teen Titans #64
"Who needs charm when you’ve got tons of awesome?"
Not a bad issue at all. The two stories flow well with each other, both dealing with fathers who want to help their daughters with the crises they’re in. Right now, though, I’d say that Wonder Girl is in it a bit deeper than bombshell. Lycus and his hellhound seem to enjoy bringing the pain, as Marvin could he attest to if he were alive and stuff.
A lesser issue than we’ve been getting the past few weeks. We found out where the scroll came from, and then we get back to the new world where super-heroes are being replaced by others after turning to dust. This almost seemed to be a place-holder issue, a bit of an info dump hiding behind a bit of action.
Ultimate Captain America Annual #1
That was pretty anti-climactic. After reading The Ultimates 3, we already knew that Cap was running around as the Panther. But I didn’t think a story like this warranted devotion of a full annual, maybe just some flashbacks here and there. I’ll say this, though: the Marco Djurdjevic art at the beginning was gorgeous.
DC Universe: Decisions #4
All of that just for Superman to tell us all that voting is important? That was a waste. The art was decent, but the story just didn’t cut it.
Justice League of America #26
"Excessive continuity is always a mistake."
I still don’t see the appeal of Vixen. This issue just flew by, and not in a good way. I thought scenes were skipped, opportunities missed, and the issue was just rushed. Let’s look at the first page. Vixen is complaining that the pain from her broken arm is back, so she calls on the healing abilities of a reptile. That’s all well and good, but why didn’t she just do that in the first place? Last issue, two and a half pages were spent detailing the origin of Paladin, but he didn’t do a damn thing that was special. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to focus on, say, Wonder Woman instead since it was her word that got the alternate JLA back together? The few panels with the Brown Bomber were awkward. In the bottom three panels, it seems like text is missing from the middle box; in the last box Vixen answers a question that it looks like hasn’t been posed. And then Anansi gives up so easily and brings the JLA back for a two-page spread of a fight scene that ends up going nowhere. Let’s hope next issue’s Milestone crossover (or is this their introduction into the DCU proper? I thought I read something about that) brings the quality back up on this title.
Listening to: The Roots - The Seed (2.0)