Thursday, March 4, 2010

What You Should Have Read #15

It’s been a nice and stress-free week, and I’m looking forward to some good comics. What will the day bring me?

Amazing Spider-Man #622
Avengers: Initiative #33
Blackest Night #7
Deadpool #20
Flash: Rebirth #6
New Avengers #62
Thor #607
Thunderbolts #141
Ultimate Comics Enemy #2
X-Factor #202
X-Force #24
X-Men: Legacy #233

I’m not looking forward to as many books as last week, but this is still a very impressive list.

Two quick questions, though: 1) Didn’t we just get a new issue of Deadpool last week? Not that I’m complaining, ‘cause it’s a Spidey team-up and Hit-Monkey is involved, and Deadpool is hilarious…and 2) When did issue number 5 of Flash: Rebirth hit the stands? I had all but forgotten about that book.

I’m hoping that Thor finally hits the Siege crossover with this issue. I’d probably know if it did or not if I read the solicits, but I don’t. I like to be surprised.

Books Based on Books

I didn’t know what to expect with Dark Tower: Battle of Jericho Hill. But it looks like we’re starting the journey to the Dark Tower that might possibly end with one of the best opening lines I’ve ever read. I won’t spoil it; go read The Gunslinger. This issue quickly reintroduces us to the major players in this game: Roland and his Ka-Tet, Sheemie, John Farson and Marten Broadcloak. Peter David and Robin Furth have really taken to this world that Stephen King created. They have totally built on this mythology. They haven’t stolen it, they haven’t shit on it, they took it and added to it to make it deeper and wonderful.

Is Ender’s Game: Mazer in Prison from a short story, or are we getting some original material in the same vein as Peter David’s foray into the Dark Tower series? If were getting some original stories, then kudos to Marvel. It was great to get a bit of backstory on both Mazer and Graff. It doesn’t make Graff any more relatable, but it shows that he was put in a position where he had to do the unthinkable in order to save the planet. Shades of Ender.

Fall of the Hulks Books

Fall of the Hulks: Red Hulk fills in some blanks that have been popping up in the Hulk book over the past year. This one deals with how he recruited Thundra and why the Wizard recruited her daughter for his latest iteration of the Frightful Four. It’s a good issue that puts a more human spin on the Red Hulk, something we haven’t seen yet. I did have the same thought as him, though, after Thundra kissed him. Will we see HIS daughter showing up at some point?


Realm of Kings Books

I don’t know much about the history of the Inhumans before the Secret Invasion, so I’m not too up on Maximus’ history of betrayal. So what am I supposed to feel by this in Realm of Kings: Inhumans? Acceptance? Hurt? Betrayed? Nah. I can’t bring myself to care much about royal stories. The characters are just too far removed from reality, and that’s saying a lot about characters in a comic book.

Siege Books

Avengers: The Initiative is dealing with two different fronts of Siege: Asgard and Camp Hammond. On the Asgard side, this issues shows us stuff we’ve already seen, such as the rescue of Thor and the death of Ares, just from different angles. I thought Osborn dismissing Taskmaster was spot-on. Osborn has this thing all scripted out already, so he’s not going to want Taskmaster to be a variable and screw things up. Having Diamondback stay, though, is a head-scratcher. As for the Camp Hammond stuff, we know that Donyell isn’t going to turn on his teammates, so that’s not an issue. And he and Dwayne are pretty much interchangeable for me anyways. No, I’m waiting for Penance to cut loose. And hopefully he’ll be back on the road to becoming Speedball.

I’m putting Dark Wolverine here instead of with the X Books because it relates more to Siege than it does anything that’s going on in the X-Universe. Also, I don’t like him. I want the final battle between him and Wolvie not to end with hugs and reconciliation, but with a little snickity snickt and Daken’s head rolling across the ground. And I can’t get behind Ragnarok in a comic. How many times has that been a storyline in Thor, only to have the universe and the pantheon of Norse gods resurrected. There’s no shock and awe if it’s only a punch on the continuity reset button.

“I went to the living legends store and this is all they had.” A most excellent line by Mr. Cage in a most disappointing issue. Captain America is back and this is the reception he gets? I realize that there’s shit going on, but c’mon! A little emotional resonance? Somebody? And what was the deal with Carol? Did they have a thing I wasn’t aware of? And I’m all for Nick and his team hooking up with Steve and the New Avengers, ‘cause we saw that happening in the Siege series, but he’s still dealing with Hydra stuff in his own book. I wouldn’t say that I’m a continuity freak, but let’s have some stuff line up here. Little things I can let pass, like Spidey dealing with stuff in both his book and New Avengers, but Siege is a big deal. That’s going to carry over into everything, and it’d be less confusing if storylines would have wrapped up before the big event happened. I’m just saying, is all.

I’m all for letting supporting characters shine, but it seems that Thor has been more about the supporting characters lately than the God of Thunder himself. He didn’t even appear in this book. And Clor has never been an adequate substitute for Thor. I guess since he’s taken Heimdall out of the picture, it’ll be difficult for Loki pass off much of the blame for the invasion of Asgard. Unless of course Heimdall is killed. And maybe it’s the romantic in me, but I’ve been enjoying the love story between Kelda and Bill. I’m wondering if something was done to her when Loki resurrected her. I hope not, and I hope she becomes something of a regular character.

I think Thunderbolts missed an opportunity for laugh and/or uncomfortableness by not directly addressing the end of last issue. C’mon! Scourge killed the Headsman after attempting to assassinate a holographic image of Norman Osborn. How does that not get addressed? Everybody just accepts it? Nah, that’s not what I was expecting. Other than that letdown, though, the book ended up being pretty good. I love that one Asgardian arrow was enough to destroy the Zeus. Mr. X’s reaction to the weapons and killing a good was great. I try not to read future spoilers, so I usually stay away from interviews about upcoming storylines and such, but I read about the new take on the Thunderbolts after Siege is finished up. I’m wondering what’s going to happen to this crew. It’s not that I care about the characters, I just wonder if we’ll get to see some awesome deaths.

Spider-Man Books

Ha ha! I called it last week, didn’t I? Spider-Man and Black Cat are friends with benefits! Good for him, he deserves it. Other than that little tidbit, both stories from Amazing Spider-Man just felt like filler. I was left wanting more from the Morbius story, and I would almost rather have Flash be a cybernetic worker monkey for Reabilify, but seeing Sha Shan brought back some fond memories. One of the oldest back issues in my collection deals with Flash and Sha Shan and their relationship woes. The Vulture shows up next issue, though, so I’m hoping for a more engaging story then.


Ultimate Books

There’s not much to say about Ultimate Enemy. It’s everything you’d expect from a Brian Michael Bendis-penned book, but not much more. Spidey gets the best lines, of course. There’s a smidge of emotional resonance when Johnny goes after Sue and when Spidey somewhat realizes what’s going on. But there’s nothing spectacular about the issue. I’m worried that this mini may end up as mostly questions with quick answers at the end that don’t satisfy.


X Books

Spidey and Deadpool team-up, how do I love thee. Let me count the ways. 1) Deadpool almost constantly breaking the fourth wall. It’s one of the things I loved about Boston Legal. 2) Hit-Monkey. He’s such a tragic character. 3) Deadpool in a French maid outfit, and the fact that it’s about five pages or so before the topic is even brought up by ‘Pool or Spidey. 4) Spidey’s original idea for getting rid of Hit-Monkey, complete with photo ops. 5) I didn’t really get the Terminator X-It gag but realized it was a bit of wordplay. 6) Deadpool’s bullet-time.

I was hoping for SOME sort of a fight against Doom in X-Factor, so I’m a bit disappointed that there was none. Layla continues to confuse me, so I kind of just ignore her. I enjoyed Guido’s unintentional dispatching of the faux Mr. Fantastic, but the art was a bit muddied and I misunderstood it at the time. When Jamie said his head was in Latveria, I assumed he was exaggerating. It took the explanation of the next panel for me to understand what actually happened. There were also a few panels on the last couple of pages where I was confusing Monet with Layla. Again, it took the text to set things straight. Let’s hope that doesn’t become a regular thing.

I am both in awe of and disappointed in X-Force. The story was great. Vanisher and Josh and Rhane each having their moments. The team going up against impossible odds. The ascent of Selene. Great stuff. And really the art is spectacular…I just wish the wasn’t so dark and murky. Crain is doing some excellent work, but it all seems to be in shades of black and indigo. I don’t know if this is Crain’s fault or…well, a look at the credits show ALL of the artwork is his, including the color, so yeah, I guess it’s his fault. Maybe things would be better if X-Force ever had a mission during the daytime.

I liked the way Magneto dealt with Proteus in X-Men: Legacy. As opposed to characters like Venom or Sabertooth, I’ve always enjoyed Magneto more when he’s been on the side of the angels, or at least more about protecting the mutant race rather than just killing or enslaving all the humans. Destiny had two great moments with both Rogue and Blindfold. With the events of the past few issues and what Destiny told Blindfold in this issue, should we assume that Moira MacTaggart was Blindfold’s mother? That should make for an interesting origin story at some point in the future.

Well the free X-Men: Second Coming – Prepare book was a surprise. There’s only about four or five pages of story, but it teases the next X-event pretty well. A few of the X-Men are interviewed after-the-fact about where they were when everything went down. We get responses from Iceman, Magneto, Cable, Cannonball, Wolverine and Cyclops (so maybe it’s six pages), and we learn that someone has died. Magneto was in the room with the body, and Wolverine was pretty pissed off about it. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Rogue’s going to buy it. That’s the only person I can think of who would have close ties to both of those men.

Other Marvel Books

This issue of Fantastic Four suffers from the faults of the previous issue. We’re introduced extremely quickly to the brand new world under the surface of the Earth, but all the ideas just fly right as us with not much follow-up. I’m assuming we’re going to revisit these places as the plot of some big storyline and Hickman is just quickly getting their introductions out of the way so he can get right to the aforementioned big storyline. And he can’t even show us everything he wants to, so he has to give us a bit of a text endcap. Good and fascinating idea, poor execution.

The fighting between characters who will eventually become allies and teammates in Marvels Project is just kind of tedious. There’s a little bit of interest in Toro’s appearance and Red Skull’s partnership with Meranno. I don’t know anything about Golden Age history, so I don’t know if this is a retcon or not, but I find it somewhat difficult to imagine the Red Skull of that era teaming up with someone who is so far removed from Hitler’s Aryan master-race. Now, tell me later that he was just using Meranno for his own gain and is going to betray him once that gain has been achieved, then it makes sense.

Well, it’s good that Nick is finally making the Secret Warriors a little pro-active, but damn, what they did to Sebastian was cold. I’m assuming that that won’t be the last we see of him, and I’m guessing it was just a way to throw everybody off. Hell, he’s on the cover. He’s probably the most important member of the team (but for the life of me I can’t remember what his powers are).


Blackest Night Books

Shocks abound in Blackest Night, and not all of them are good. Luthor with a ring was a great surprise, but what was better was him taking Scarecrow’s yellow ring and then going after the others. Guy and Hal showing up with an army of multi-colored Lanterns was a beautiful shot. The Entity was a shock, but I didn’t much care for it. Earth is now where life began in the universe? Mmm, that’s a pretty major retcon from Oa being the beginning of everything. And the SINESTRO being the White Lantern? I’m sure it won’t last, but, even for a second it doesn’t seem right.

Well, Blackest Night: JSA seemed a bit trite. A difficult time was had by all JSAers, but the solution to the super-zombie problem, when finally achieved, of course cannot be duplicated in Coast City. So Mr. Terrific made light? I’ve got some pretty bright light bulbs at home. Could that save me from super-zombies?


Justice Books

I didn’t get the good feelings at the end of Flash: Rebirth that I did with Green Lantern: Rebirth. I enjoyed Johns’ turn at Wally West, but I never had the connection with him that I did with Hal Jordan. And Barry was dead a gone years before I started reading comics. So Barry is back, whoopity doo. I’m more interested in what the Rogues are going to be up to now that their original foe has returned from beyond.

A LOT of stuff happened in Justice Society of America, almost too much. We’re quickly introduced to a future run by Nazis, Green Lantern is killed, and we’re introduced to a whole host of Nazi-themed villains. I think I recognize Captain Nazi and Baroness Blitzkrieg as WW II era villains, or in Baronesses case a variation on Baron Blitzkrieg, but I’m assuming all of the others are new creations. Either that or Willingham really mined the DC Golden Age vaults for these characters. I’m making two statements regarding this storyline: 1) the JSA will stop whatever events result in a Nazi-run America, and 2) Alan Scott is not dead. Sigh, I think we’re in for a bit of time travel.


Superman Books

I can’t get behind this month’s Superman. We finally have the line-up and identities of the Legion’s espionage squad, but they just ran off with a promise of a later conversation. Then we get almost a full issue of filler. All for Conner to show up and have Mon-El meet the squad in the next issue of Adventure Comics? That’s kind of lame. I’m ready for this storyline to finish so we can start on something new.


Other DC Books

I am officially done with Teen Titans until the next shake-up or creator change comes along. It’s just so boring, and as much as I like Blue Beetle, I’m not going to read a team book on the off chance of seeing him for a bit.

I think I’m enjoying The Web the most out of these Impact/Archie/Red Circle reinventions because it’s the most straight-forward superhero book. The cockiness of the main character also doesn’t hurt. This was a good issue; nothing crazy-spectacular happened, it was just a good issue. Hero takes on a mission, meets a new villain, fights said villain, and accidentally…well, I can’t tell you EVERYTHING. I like the new villain, whom I’m guessing is some sort of vampire. She and the Web had some good banter going, and I like her upfrontitude (Like that? I just made that up. You can use it.). Also, I like Andrew Robinson as the new artist, but I like him more as a cover painter. Maybe it’s nostalgia for the work he did on the Starman series, but it’s good stuff.

G.I. Joe Books

Okay, Chuckles is awesome. We all thought he was captured in G.I. Joe: Cobra II, right? Turns out he’s even more badass than his undercover work in the previous series implied. I think I need to do a quick re-read of the series, though, because I didn’t realize that Chameleon was still trying to pass as Jinx. I thought she was just supposed to bear a passing familiarity in order to shake up Chuckles.

I’ve been enjoying the IDW G.I. Joe revamp, so when Operation Hiss came out, I thought I’d give it a try. As soon as I realized it was part of the movie continuity and not the comic book continuity, I closed it. No thank you.


Other Books

How can Warren Ellis’ stuff seem so new and old at the same time? I guess Captain Swing and the Electrical Pirates of Cindery Island deals with steampunk. It’s surprising technology in an untechnological time. The most interesting parts of this book are the text pieces by Captain Swing. The alternative history does more for me than the mystery of a flying boat.

I don’t think I can take Garth Ennis seriously anymore. What is he doing anymore, war books and torture porn? Sure, the story Wormwood told in Chronicles of Wormwood: The Last Battle about how he and his rabbit hooked up was touching, but the rest was just shock for shock’s sake. Right now, I just don’t see the point of it besides riling people up.

With his military background, I would guess that Gravel is not just tapping people for a new Minor Seven, but he’s also drafting an army of magicians. And the people he recruits this issue are pretty hard-core. One kills people who lust after her, and the other eats pieces of corpses and takes drugs. With the power he’s amassing, it’ll be interesting to see what he’s up to.

Okay, a way to beat Tony has been revealed in Irredeemable. Let’s find that piece of wax and get this over with. The series seems to be dragging a bit. Why doesn’t Tony pick off these heroes one by one? I somewhat understand his need to visit his past, but if his goal is to show Sam his good side, I think it’s backfiring. This guy was apparently messed in the head as a kid.

Hmm, might Walking Dead be somewhat good again? You
root for these characters and hope that they find peace and safety, but at the same time, that makes for an extremely boring book. So yea, they found peace a safety. Now I hope that that is just an illusion and this ends up being a nightmare community for our gang. There’s obviously something going on there, and Kirkman is doing his best to keep all the characters at ease and possibly off their guard, so I’m hoping for some big-time shake-ups to happen. Maybe not next issue or the next, but relatively soon.

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