Dr Manolis Vamounis writes from Greece on last week’s comics.
THE AVX UPDATE
I’m warming up to the main AVENGERS VERSUS X-MEN series, just as the main players are moving on to colder and deathly colder climates. Any issue (like #4 this week) that opens with Wolverine, covered by a dead polar bear, following a trail of beer cans in Antarctica and ends up with a showdown on the dark side of the moon is an instant winner. The dialogue between the characters and their justifications have improved from the macho nonsense of the first issue, yet the “action” remains just as directionless. Some Avengers and some X-Men mixed randomly together in generic action compositions. Over, and over, and over again.
A THROWING STUFF AT STUFF CONTEST
Even if the entire issue of AVENGERS #26 was Walter Simonson drawing Thor slinging Mjolnir at the Phoenix entity in deep space, it would be an awesome read. Oh, wait, it is! Can we really not get him to draw Journey into Mystery?
ANOTHER THROWING STUFF AT STUFF CONTEST
AVX VERSUS #2 finally brings the fun. Gambit throwing Cap’s kinetically charged shield back at him? Spidey versus Colossernaut? Smaller moments from the match-ups of the main series given space to breathe and play out properly without dragging on too long or feeling forced. A definite improvement over last issue. It’s worth noting how formidable and reminiscent of his original cool 90s super-popular self Gambit is in this book, compared to the ineffective bozo he comes off as in the main series’ recounting of the exact same confrontation.
SOMEONE CANCEL GREG LAND’S PLAYBOY SUBSCRIPTION
Kieron Gillen making the entire issue of UNCANNY X-MEN #12 about Namor’s prowess and Hepzibah’s cat-in-heat-ness didn’t help matters either. Namor fights the Thing, again. Namor is a man-slut, again. Greg Land traces porn, again. In the most interesting development of the issue, Boom Boom returns to active duty, for one panel, and is never seen again. Boo. Boo.
REMEMBER THAT GUY?
AVENGERS ACADEMY #30 is the first time in this crossover that anyone has brought up the Bishop prophecy. The only reason Bishop went all cuckoo traitor on the X-teams back in the day was his knowledge that the “mutant messiah” would one day kill millions and usher the apocalyptic future of the recent Cable series. You’d think the X-Men would now look back and give the psycho some credit. Christos Gage once again manages to take the opposing views in this confrontation and provide real leverage and an emotional anchor for both sides, while at the same time giving facetime to some forgotten cult favorites (Taki!) and juggle A LOT of disparate continuity threads from different defunct titles to make them all suit his storytelling purposes. And he’s such a classy act too.
SECRET SERVICE #2 is the most Mark Millar comic of the year. In a good way. An insanely loud, provocative and bloody bloody opening scene, followed by some fucked-up family dynamics, colourful (with an -ou-) dialogue and a heavy dose of crazy super-science exposition mixed with a sprinkling of pop culture satire and, well, sex.
SUPERMAN VERSUS THE WALL
I just love how subtly Geoff Johns has Superman overcompensate for all the grief he’s getting from Lois in his Clark Kent identity, by just pummeling through the walls of Arkham Asylum without any concern for public property or structural damage. “Stairs? Doors? Pfah, I’m SUPERMAN!”. Or maybe Johns just has a secret brick-breaking fetish. Imagine the gay-bashing possibilities when Supes meets the Teen Titans’ Bunker.
In other news from JUSTICE LEAGUE #9, Jim Lee is sloooowly ceding ground to Cliff Chiang’s (much better looking) version of Wonder Woman’s outfit, while Flash and Green Lantern steal the entire non-event of an issue with their charming back-and-forths.
PRAISE THE TALENT
There’s a definite method to Kenneth Rocafort’s frantic panel layouts in RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #9. The array of panels here would get a standing ovation from Eisner himself. Red Hood falling towards the sealed building (shown as time-lapsed figures moving inside the same panel), shooting a round into the window (with a close-up panel of the empty casing steaming out of the gun, over the figure corresponding to that instant in time), the window breaking (in a panel overlapping the instant of the main panel where he’s hitting the building, tilted to appear like the bleed between the two panels shattering), and then Todd finally dropping inside. Brilliant! Another scene inside with a character’s death is handled subtly and with class, unlike recent gory examples from various DC comics.
EVEN BOOBS GET THE BLUES
Red Hood shares a touching “moment” with his Talon opponent in his book, but the most heartfelt exchange of this week’s NIGHT OF OWLS books came from an even more unlikely source: CATWOMAN #9. Judd Winnick handles this with panache, and even some not-so-subtle Lady Gaga referencing.
MIND THE SPOILERS:
A DEATH IN THE FAMILY
Alas poor Bette Kane, you really were not made to fit into the DCNu continuity, but what a way to go, beaten into a coma and then flatlining away in BATWOMAN #9 while your mentor is making out with different women on cruise-ships. Tsk Tsk.
(Could someone explain the Kane family tree in the post-Morrison DC continuity, with the original Batwoman reinstated? Consider it your mission for the week)
LAW AND LANTERN
It sucks to be Jon Stewart right now. After a travesty of a trial, the ending of GREEN LANTERN CORPS #9 sees him get sentenced to death for the execution of the traitor Lantern a few issues back. Just when you thought these annoying Alpha Lanterns couldn’t get more corrupt… Tomasi is on a roll again, producing some of his best work on the book as Oa continues to descend into a military dictatorship.
THE OTHER JO(H)N SAVAGE
DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS #9 begins a new storyline introducing the modern version of VANDAL SAVAGE. This one has apparently been incarcerated by the FBI for the past 16 years after a series of ritual murders, while none of the feds acknowledge his immortality as anything more than a crazy person’s ramblings. This would all seem to imply that he has never faced any of the modern DC super-heroes, since they’ve only been around for 5 years now. This reboot will surely provide us with some entertaining continuity hiccups in the months (and years) to come.
TWISTY TIMEY WIMEY STUFF
THUNDERBOLTS #174 could give Back to the Future a run for its money. Last month, the Fixer managed to accidentally off his younger self, while stick stuck in the Thunderbolts’ past along with his teammates. This issue, in order to save the crumbling time-space continuum around them (oopsie), he makes the brave decision to undergo a mindwipe and take his younger self’s place, thus trapping himself in an endless time loop. This is comic book science fiction at its best.
SURPRISE TWIST THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING
THE 6TH GUN has been building up the mythology and the secret origins behind the 6 super-powered guns for quite some time now, but readers never saw THIS twist coming. I’ll only spoil half of it here, it’s something that links back to the very core concept of the book and the characters and I like to play fair to the creators of these indy books. Even if (like me) you’re not a great fan of westerns, if you enjoy books like LOCKE & KEY or Matt Fraction’s IMMORTAL IRON FIST, this will be your new must-read book each month.
I’ve enjoyed every single one of Cliff Chiang’s reinterpretations of the Greek Gods in the pages of WONDER WOMAN, and the one I was most looking forward to seeing was indeed that of Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, her being my island homie and all. Her very first appearance this week in #9 comes from the second artist of the book, Tony Akins, but it’s still as weird and elegant as I have hoped. A curvaceous naked beauty whose full body -and apparently stunningly beautiful face- are always obscured by the panel borders and page layout. The issue is brimming with visual delights, including the wedding decorations in Hell (with the whole city covered in the brightness of damned souls), the gorgon bridesmaids (as real six-tittied snake-haired bitches) or the surprise engagement ring in the end. Wonder Woman is still the most vibrantly imaginative book in the entire comics industry.
HIDE THE BLUE BULGE
The way Bleez keeps going around all the DC titles, attacking people’s laps in that skimpy outfit and her space garters, I’m surprised this sort of… happy accident doesn’t occur more often. Still, awkward times galore in BLUE BEETLE #9.
SOME GAY SHIT
LOCKE & KEY: CLOCKWORKS #6 is not just naked transgendered possessed dudes and inappropriate timed hard-ons. That’s what mainstream comics are for. This issue wraps up the fifth and penultimate chapter in the great epic storyline of Keyhouse Manor by pulling a “reverse LOST”: actually bothering to go back in the past and address all the great mysteries it has set up, answering the key (hehe) questions from the first books and even going to the extra trouble of showing how each of the major keys and players ended up where we first encountered them in the first book, all the while spinning the engulfing (and rather tragic) story of the original key-holders. (He he, boner!)
SEX AND GORE AND DEER SOUVLAKI
HULK #7.1 seems to have it all. A nasty nasty mass eye-gouging heist, along with an awkward sex scene between Red She-Hulk and the Hulk, an amusing “Hulk roasts weird stuff” montage and a final page reveal of the new status quo of the character.
(extra spoiler space)
The now disembodied/deceased Bruce Banner haunting the Hulk’s body and the Hulk being cursed to turn into Bruce Banner? Sneaky sneaky…
And now for some gratuitous Hulk on Hulk nudity (that we never had the chance to see before due to the incestuous nature of both potential same-coloured Hulk pairings).
Twisty. How appropriate was all of this for one of the supposedly new reader (and younger reader?) -friendly “point one” books?
WONDER WOMAN #9 was the prettiest and most rewarding book of the week, while UNCANNY X-MEN #12 was the most disappointing and offensive to the eyes. All in all, a rather great week, where even the randomest of crossover books and tie-ins had something special to offer their reader. Even if that was mostly throwing stuff at other stuff, punching brides and walls or getting inappropriate erections.