Thursday, May 10, 2012

What You Should Have Read #59

Reviews for Comics Released May 9, 2012

Between my new issues and a handful of back issues, this was a big week for me. Let’s get right to the reviews.

Bendis and Bagley together is usually a no-brainer for me, but I’m getting very tired of Bendis and his Avengers, but that’s something I’ll get to with my New Avengers review. I’ve got no problems with Bagley’s art here. It’s solid and clean, and it’s what I expect from him. He’s not a superstar artist, but he’s dependable, and you always know what you’re going to get. I’m giving a bit of an internal eye roll, though, that this title even exists. I mean, I get the reason for it, but titles created solely in order to cash in on something rather than because the creators want to do a particular story, well, I find that those tend to come off as a bit flat and emotionless. This team of Avengers consists of the characters from the movie, including Maria Hill (no Cheese…excuse me, Agent Coulson…yet, but I’m sure he’s not far behind). Hell, even the last page smacks of MOVIE CROSS PROMOTION!!! That said, I’m enjoying this title more than either of the other Avengers titles at the moment. Just because I don’t like the reason for something doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the finished product.
I’ve never been able to get into Batman as a solo character. I loved what Morrison and Waid did with him during their JLA runs, but I’ve never been able to get into any of his solo series. I decided to give it a try with DC’s reboot since I liked both Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. Although I enjoyed the first issue, I just couldn’t keep with it so I dropped it. After reading nothing but rave reviews, I decided to pick it up again this week, and I double-dipped by picking up the previous issue so I could get in on the ground floor of “Night of the Owls.” Dammit, looks like I’ve got to go back and pick up some back issues, because I’m officially hooked. I like that Bruce, while still a genius detective, is pretty damn tough. He’s a fighter, and not the kind who uses specially place nerve punches to quickly take out an opponent. He’s a brawler. I’m also enjoying the back-up stories with art by Snyder’s American Vampire cohort Rafael Albuquerque. Issue eight had an Alfred-focused story, and issue nine focused on Alfred’s dad. I’m loving this bit of history, and it makes me all the more eager to snatch up issues two through seven (my buddy bought the hardcover collection yesterday, and I’ll probably borrow that before I can pick up the single issues) of the series to see what else Snyder has done with Batman’s world and Gotham. It makes me think about James Robinson’s Starman, and that’s high praise indeed, since it’s my favorite series. If Snyder is going to continually give us a history lesson and make Gotham an actual “character” (and not just a dark collection of warehouses and alleyways) like Robinson did with Opal City, then sign me up. I do hope I can enjoy the current storyline without having to get the other tie-in issues. So far it looks like I’ll be able to. The flow between issues eight and nine was smooth, and a small blurb let me know that I can read about one of Bruce’s side missions over in Detective Comics, but it didn’t look like it had any bearing on the thread that’s running through Batman. So yay! I’m reading a Batman book, and that brings my New DC tally up to three!

I wasn’t able to hit up a comic book store last weekend to participate in Free Comic Book Day. Had it been the weekend that my kids’ mother had them, then I totally would have, but it wasn’t, so I couldn’t. My LCS had a few copies of Dark Horse’s contribution, though, and I grabbed one on my way out of the store. A Serenity story written by Zack Whedon? Yup, I’m in. And it was pretty awesome. It was short and sweet, and it really captured the voices of all the characters. I could totally see this as the opening of a new episode…and now I’m sad. The Star Wars story was good, too, but it felt extremely similar to the Serenity story.

I’m always surprised that enjoy Journey into Mystery so much. I’ve never been a fan of Thor or his supporting cast, and while I tended to enjoy J. Michael Stracyznski’s series, I was never really blown away by it. Kieron Gillen makes everyone so likeable, even “villains.” This issue gets a smidge confusing, but it’s explained away well enough. It’s part two of a crossover with the New Mutants (almost as bad of a name Cougar Town) that began with last week’s Exiled one-shot. There are a bunch of plotlines coming together, and it’s neat to see them all lead back to the same place. As excited I am to finally be involved in Batman’s world, I’m also excited to be learning about this new-to-me corner of the Marvel Universe.

I am disappointed in the current storyline in New Avengers. I assume there will be a decent payoff, but wow, Bendis is not doing his best work here. First of all, there is not a single appearance by an Avenger, new or otherwise, in this book. At least we got a panel or two of Iron Fist last issue. Between the Kree stuff going on in Secret Avengers and the K’un L’un stuff going on here, it looks as if the mythology of the Phoenix is being rewritten as to have a larger connection with the mystically cosmic part of the Marvel Universe. I guess that’s okay. It’s something you have to come to grips with in comics. Retcons happen. The Kree stuff makes sense. This, though…this just feels forced. And hey, let’s throw Leonardo da Vinci into the mix, too. Jonathan Hickman’s S.H.I.E.L.D. was confusing enough, but it mostly existed in a vacuum. Sure, Nathaniel Richards and Howard Stark showed up, as did the Brood and Galactus, but I was okay with that. The story, while trying to give S.H.I.E.L.D. a larger history in the Marvel Universe (unnecessary), was surprisingly insular. It didn’t (at least it hasn’t yet, and I don’t know what additional plans there are for the series) have any interactions with any regular Marvel characters and instead dealt more with inserting various classical thinkers and scientists into Marvel’s history. One of the main characters was da Vinci, and now Bendis has brought him over and shoehorned him into this crossover. After the wonderful Osborn stories, the past two issue of this series has really killed my enjoyment of the title. This storyline is back-up material at best.

Wolverine and his hit squad are having a hard time of late. This is a team that shouldn’t work. The characters don’t work well together. There are too many conflicting personalities, ideals, and motives. But writer Rick Remender does a wonderful job of smoothly making this dysfunctional team succeed where they have to. I love Deadpool here, more so than in his regular series. I like him playing off of other characters rather than just his internal monologues. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it, he and Fantomex need a spin-off road-trip mini-series. The team is down to a skeleton crew for this issue, but Wolvie isn’t worried since he’s assuming the mission will be a cakewalk. Of course it doesn’t turn out like that. After a bit of a confusing stumble with the Captain Britain stuff, I’m back on board with where it looks like this book is going: massive murder, moral conflicts, and the eventual wringing of hands and pulling of hair.

Wolverine and the X-Men is still my favorite post-Schism X-book. It’s weird to see Wolverine in the role of headmaster, but it works, and the kids are all amazing. There’s a bit of dissention in the ranks this issue, and it doesn’t seem forced at all. Jason Aaron does a good job of explaining why certain characters make certain decisions. So far I’m enjoying this little slice of the Avengers vs. X-Men crossover than anything else happening with it. I also like that Aaron isn’t abandoning current plot threads to focus on the crossover. We still get a good dose of Angel and Genesis and even a bit of Quentin and Idie.

I also picked up a couple of back issues for my collection, and I picked up a few issues for my oldest son. We sat on the floor of my comic book room (read: my walk-in closet) bagging and boarding our new issues. I got him Justice League Adventures #s 2 and 3 and I ended up getting:

Amazing Spider-Man #656 (Captain America 70th Anniversary variant cover)
Amazing Spider-Man #665 (I Am Captain America variant cover)
Amazing Spider-Man #671 (my favorite cover in quite some time)
Justice League Adventures #1 (it actually came with my son’s grab pack, but I kept it because of the Alex Ross cover)
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #4

Here are the new comics I’m expecting to get next week:

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