Last Weeks Comics In Twenty-Three Pictures

Dr Manolis Vamvounis writes for Bleeding Cool…

SO THE EGG REPRESENTS ALAN MOORE’S WISHES AND HIS RESPECTABILITY WITHIN DC AS THE CREATOR OF WATCHMEN

Guess who the Comedian is.

To be fair, I could have just gone ahead used this panel as my header:

…but BEFORE WATCHMEN: MINUTEMEN #1 is really not. Terrible, that is.

The project is in bad taste and disrespectful to the original writer and all that, but it’s not bad in itself. Darwyn Cooke is probably the greatest living comics storyteller. This book features many smart narrative choices (and snarky meta-winking) that are a testament to the man’s storytelling ability, but it still fails as a book, for one simple reason that has nothing to do with its content:

It tries to pass itself as the official prequel to WATCHMEN, thus attempting to affect the way readers will later go out and read and experience the original series, revealing information and characteristics of the characters that weren’t in Moore’s intentions. I don’t think I’d have such an issue with the book’s existence if it was alternatively marketed, as a collection of stories OUTSIDE the book’s continuity, featuring the book’s characters reinterpreted by some famous and talented fans of the original work.

It also unfortunately features an annoying multitude of high-stakes superheroing, acrobat-ing around on flag lines and improbable jumping about which flies against the face of the original series’ set of rules, much in the same way that the movie did. The original adventurers in that book, much like Nite Owl and the Comedian and Rorschach, didn’t possess any special abilities of their own, and they certainly weren’t super-physically able to punch through walls or jump on and off running cars. Their superheroic escapades were quite plain and boring, and that was the beauty and the core point of it, feeding into what Alan Moore was trying to say about the nature of superheroes inside a “real world” context, and illustrating the gap between their “innocent”/naive generation and the one that followed with their technology-enabled flying cars and atomic-powered “gods”.

DIAL C-O-O-L

Just when you thought it was impossible to top Boy Chimney and Lachrymose Boy from the debut issue of the book, DIAL H #2 introduces us to FIVE new cool designs, including by new absolute fave, the Iron Snail! How soon can we get a crossover with Squirrel Girl?

THE BAT WILL BREAK…

…some change. It’s hard NOT to spoil the big twisty thing in the new digital-only LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #1, when the thing is written right there on the cover! Lindelof seems to be writing a different drunken, cocky, naggy version of Batman than the one we know, specifically tailored to match the needs of his little story. It’s still a hoot to see how well Jeff Lemire’s unconventional scratchy inky blotty artwork fits with the Dark Knight and his world (and how badly it works on Catwoman! euch).

HOW DID RICH MISS THIS?

The dark, industrial God Manchester and its fuming brethren Birmingham are polluting the Otherworld in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #639. And yes, it’s written by a Brit. Now, I’ve lived in Manchester for many years, and find this all very appropriately hilarious.

THE WHORE-ALD OF GALACTUS

Sue me. I totally enjoy how Galactus treats the Silver Surfer in THE MIGHTY THOR ANNUAL #1, like a pimp and his ho’, simply lending him out to the Scrier or whoever to use and abuse. The issue itself is steeped in what I assume to be obscure dangling plot threads from DeMatteis’ Silver Surfer run that I never read. The Scrier is this apparently omni-powerful being that makes Galactus shiver and was involved in both the creation of the world AND the Spider-man clone saga. Brrrr. Talk about eeeeeeeeeeevil!

I LIKE THIS NEW SPIDER-MAN KID

…he’s a good egg. Bendis is as good on ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN COMICS #11 as he was the first year he started. No, wait, better. The pacing, the jokes, the dramatic tension. This the best Spidey book we’ve ever had the chance to read. In your face, Puny Parker! (what, too soon?).

WHOTHEHEY!?

Must we keep falling back on old poor habits? THUNDERBOLTS #175 gets renamed into DARK AVENGERS #175 in another one in a long long line of confusing Marvel rebrandings or renumberings, introducing the crew of the poorly developed New Dark Avengers from Bendis’ latest NEW AVENGERS storyline. This issue, despite the “1st issue of a new era” blurb on the cover, also fails to properly introduce these characters or make me care for them.

NOT YOUR GARDEN VARIETY MIND EXPANDING DRUGS

It’s not joke. This IS the Silver Surfer on psychotropics. DEFENDERS #7 is playing to both its creators’ strengths. Matt Fraction and drugs, cool lines and improbable super-action. Terry Dodson and sexy Black Cat poses.

MIND THE SPOILERS:

THAT OTHER JUNE EN-GAY-GEMENT

I’m assuming the only reason DC didn’t make a big deal about their own gay engagement proposal this month in EARTH 2 #2 is that Alan Scott’s boyfriends, whatsisname, is probably not going to make it into the next issue alive. We can all still look forward to the “first gay widower in comics” press release next month. I like this new gayer Alan Scott. It feels organic to the character. Heck, thisisapanel from his very first appearance. The new Jay Garrick on the other hand, I didn’t much care about. If you want to do Wally West stories, bring back Wally. Perhaps on the eventual Earth 3 book?

GO GO FIRE RANGERS

OK, I actually enjoyed the whole “Phoenix-powered everyone” twist in AVX #5. Sure, it wasn’t THAT twisty and ground-breaking (hell, Emma Frost has been possessed by the Phoenix Force before, and we’ve seen it have multiple hosts before in the Stepford Cuckoos), but this is the first time in MANY years that Marvel has kept the lid on its mid-event twist surprise and hasn’t tried teasing it with poorly silhouetted figure teasers or just outright spoiled it a day before the book’s release. Plus, I LOVE the new JRJR designs: the slutty Phoenix Namor, the gothy Phoenix Illyana, Cyclops’ Phoenix visor, and the fact that Colossus’ flat top hair REGREW once he got possessed!

Phoenix Force: better than Rogaine.

[GEEK-RANT] I could still do without Scott’s insane zealot-y mis-characterization throughout this event.When did the Avengers last try to “snuff out” all the mutants? Well, apart from that Scarlet Witch thing, if you have to blame anyone for that, try Bendis. Also, what IS the status between Wolvie and Cap? How awkward must the small talk have been on the moon? “So, um, sorry for beating you up and throwing you off my plane over the Antarctic, I guess I overreacted back there. Ha ha”.[/GEEK-RANT]

 

 

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

 

AVENGERS ACADEMY #31 delivers some more of the usual rich characterisation backed by an insane amount of continuity-referencing (while still remaining surprisingly accessible), making a solid argument FOR putting kids in harm’s way. Plus, another entirely pointless hero versus hero battle that’s completely rationalized by the plot AND chock full of retumblr-able moments. Gage gets it. We’re way past the point where it’s enough to simply have random characters shoot energy at each other for page after page. Instead, why not take this as a chance to showcase the way these characters play and function against each other…while of course having them shooting energy at each other for page after page.

DEAR MARVEL

 

Re: UNCANNY X-MEN #13… please stop giving work to Billy Tan. I know you made an ass of yourselves when you announced him as a “Young Gun” 6 years ago, and his art is still as stiff, stale, emotionless, inconsistent, all-around amateurish as when he first started. #hater

SUPERDICKERY

Grant Morrison has a very slim grasp of real world issues and etiquette. In ACTION COMICS #10 Clark Kent investigates a child murderer, takes the TRAIN to his house, confronts him (inconclusively), calls the police with the evidence he has on him and then turns into Superman and breaks through his door punching him against the wall. The man of Steel, versus a defenseless unarmed criminal who wasn’t even attempting an escape. In the following scene he brings up real world problems like starving children in third world countries to his JLA buddies meeting, causing some super-awkwardness. The thing is, unless as a writer you’re planning on tackling these issues in your story, there’s little point breaking the reader’s suspension of disbelief this way and making all your characters look like jackasses for a problem the rules of shared universe storytelling won’t let them tackle.

SUICIDE ROBOT GIRLS

Ann Nocenti finally delivers on the expectations from her run with a self-contained, almost procedural, issue in GREEN ARROW #10, and the story of a suicidal girl who thinks she’s a robot (or a robot who thinks she’s a girl) and a cartel of illegal human/robot trafficking, making a rather painful comment about the alienation of today’s youth. Pity about the art failing to coordinate with the script and plot.

IT’S A GAY THING

STORMWATCH #10, much like previous issues, only seems to work when dealing with Apollo and Midnighter, everyone else still feels completely disconnected and, well, DULL. Gay characters and twisty psycho-issues have always been new writer Peter Milligan’s forte, I wouldn’t mind it if DC simply ditched this book and relaunched it as an adventuring gay couple book. I’d buy it.

DA      X CODE

There is a perfectly justifiable reason for the existence of this sequence inside the Thelma & Louise girl bonding road trip issue of X-FACTOR #237. Am I going to spoil it here? PFEH! Peter David is really pushing the level of drama each month and I’m so glad to see Polaris finally being written as a sane and interesting character.

SOME INCREDIBLE DEVELOPMENTS I CAN’T TALK TO YOU ABOUT

MORNING GLORIES #17 features one of the regular cast members hunting down another one with a knife and one of the biggest twists in the book’s history. and I really can’t tell you more after the creators of the book specifically asked all reviewers to keep mum about the exciting stuff inside this issue. But I still like to tease.

RAPE WHISTLE COMICS

I can’t be the only one to realize that having the lead character of Valiant’s all-new HARBINGER #1, a teenage telepath fugitive, coerce his childhood sweetheart into fall in love and then sleep with him constitutes rape. If you can get past that (but should you?), the issue offers a great introduction to the new concept and a fascinating opponent. Plus, it’s great to see more regular work from the talented Khari Evans.

PROPHESIED COOL

Dynamite is following IDW’s succesful strategy of pulling ALL their licensed properties into one, gigantic, improbable crossover and then sitting back and watching geeks’ heads explode. Red Sonja, Vampirella, Dracula AND Sherlock Holmes, all in the first issue of PROPHECY alone. In a way that is actually respectful to each character’s natural environment… so far at least.

SO BAD IT’S AWESOME

The cat-woman with the “high cali-BRA CAT-ling guns strapped on her boobs is not even the weirdest thing going on in TAROT WITCH OF THE BLACK ROSE #74. This book goes so far beyond a guilty pleasure each month. I suspect the only reason we haven’t seen a live porn version of it yet is because it’s already such a succesful and witty XXX Parody of itself, there’s not a lot more you can do.

 

What a messed up week.

 

Rape, suicide, self-flagellation, drugs, beatings, snail tanks and machine gun bras.

 

X-FACTOR #237 gets the book of the week praise for the sheer enjoyment of it but MORNING GLORIES still had the best dramatic build-up and twist ending. The Gods of Manchester and Birmingham in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY get a nod for best villain of the week, but DIAL H’s Iron Snail is the best character of find of the year… so far.

 

The WTF moment of the week is unceremoniously awarded to good cop/bad cop Clark Kent/Superman in ACTION COMICS. Yes, it even beat Ro-Bama-Tron and Silver Surfer on Acid.

 

Show me some love on Twitter @thecomicsgreek and share your opinions on the best and worst of the week in the comments section.