The internet’s most opinionated (and Greek) comics column. By Dr Manolis V
This is how it went down in comics during the past two weeks: both the proudest gay panel of the year and the most shameful, geek rantings, closing of school for young heroes and mutants, new starts for Iron Man and Deadpool, some penis mutilation and cake. Yummy, yummy cake.
Let’s dig in!
WHAT IT FEELS LIKE FOR A GEEK
Hey, it’s a frustration we all kinda share. I’ll safely vouch though, as a person who had never before read a copy of PERHAPANAUTS, DANGER DOWN UNDER # was indeed (that ever elusive) “New-Reader-Friendly”.The rather hilarious meta-comment of a recap page helped, I’ll admit, but the issue itself does a great job of introducing the very wide and ranged roll call of dimension-hopping special agents (that includes a cute pint-sized nerdy chupacabra), including some (I assume) old and new faces, some witty banter, some surprises and lots of irreverent sci-fi funny.
IT’S ALL DOWNHILL FROM HERE
It’s not (just) that VAMPIRELLA VERSUS FLUFFY THE VAMPIRE KILLER (sigh) is a trite piece of cheap tie-in parody that shamelessly rips off another popular vampire property without their creator’s consent while making sure the analogies are just blatant enough for everyone and their undead grandma to get the reference… It’s also done in such bad taste, filled with such a load of tired puns and hopeless dialogue, and worse of all, it goes the extra mile of poking fun at gay teen suicides (“haha”, right?). It wouldn’t have been ok even if it was funny or it fit the tone of the book. If you’re gonna stoop to this kind of scheme, you should at least put out a worthwhile read.
AS SIMPLE AS…
Jeph Loeb is the master of the catchy high concept. He leaves the execution to great artists with a fondness for big splashy pages and that partly works for A+X#1 (the follow-up to our darling VS tie-in book) as Wolvie and Hulk fight against their future selves: Maestro and Days of Future Past Logan for… someone we’ll reveal past the Spoilers barrier. Does it make sense? Well, decidedly NOT, but it’s a fun little punchfest that is over almost as soon as it starts. In the other feature of the issue Dan Slott makes up for all of this with a very packed and thought-through (to an OCD degree) time travel crossover between Cable and WWII Cap, filled with little nerdy easter eggs.
The rest of our weekly batch in brief capsules:
JACK BE NIMBLE
A clear contender for creepiest new character of the year, and the unsettling, vicious (and visible only to crazies) antagonist of Paul Tobin’s COLDER #1 from Dark Horse (you know, the book with the most freakin’ disturbing cover on the stands last week) http://www.darkhorse.com/Comics/17-260/Colder-1 , unraveling the rather intriguing mystery of a madhouse fire survivor who’s gone inexplicably catatonic and, well, cold.
There’s a bit of CHEW’s sense of irreverence in the new DEADPOOL #1 but it’s mostly unconvincing setup, hilarious zombie president antics and bad (not haha bad, just uncomfortably #fail bad) puns all around. Oh, and Deadpool is now a SHIELD agent.
NEW MUTANTS #50 closes the third (fourth?) and second longest running NM series with a fitting “House Party” reminiscent of the classic Claremont/Sienkiewicz slumber party that redefined the original book’s run. There’s an alien Technarchy invasion involved in this case as well, though it’s mostly barbeques, farewells and putting out loose threads from a magnificent and constantly enjoyable run.
MEET THE NEW BOSS…
…same as the old boss. And that’s a very ballsy move on Brian Wood’s part, seeing as how the new Ultimate President is the super-soldier himself, yet he still decides to propagate the separatist agenda of previous administrations. The reader’s heart breaks for Kitty Pryde, the new militant leader of the mutants in ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN #18.
IT’S SLOBBERING TIME
We will ALWAYS remember that one time the Thing and Spidey were totally gay for each other and indeed made out for a few pages of AVENGING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1.
STILL NOT THE GAYEST PANEL THIS WEEK
Double teen blond lesbian rainbow powers activate! AVENGERS ACADEMY #39 goes out more emotion, gay kissing and touchy touchy romance stuff than the rest of the Marvel U combined and it’s a sweet farewell to these kids we have grown to feel for before they are sent off to the character slaughterhouse that will be Avengers Arena. Sigh.
EVERYTHING DIES NOT WITH A BANG…
…but with a cup of tea. Matt Fraction’s grand plan to change the face of comics storytelling didn’t pan out as he (or we) would have hoped, the industry keeps moving along its tracks undisturbed, but the concluded DEFENDERS #1-12 is one substantial, confusing, admirable, revolutionary piece of meta-fiction in and of itself that manages to be both self-contained and completely universe-redefining.
SIMPLE SOLUTIONS FOR CLASSIC PROBLEMS
The Kryptonite Man (sorry, “K-Man”) is a man irradiated with Kryptonite. The solution seems kinda obvious, has this never been done before ACTION COMICS ANNUAL #1?
ALL THE BAT’S CHILDREN
Huntress vs Damian, it had to happen. And wait till you see the other team-up teased in WORLD’S FINEST #6.
THERE’S JUST SOMETHING ABOUT UGLY HOBOS IN FISHNETS…
… it makes my day! Just like the cutesy adorable flashback-up feature in Boom’s giant-sized (but still a $1) FREELANCERS #1, featuring two hard-quipping girlfriends raised together in a Kung Fu Orphanage (now there’s a concept) out to right wrongs and make a paycheck. It’s not the most original idea, but it’s handled decently and with a delightful freshness.
THIS WEEK IN – OUCH!!
HAPPY #2 is no place for a cute blue cartoon horsey to fly around in, it’s looking more and more like Morrison’s commentary on the insane violence and gore of today’s mainstream comics. We applaud, but that description — brrrr.
MIND THE SPOILERS
Seriously now, you’ve been warned!!!
General, nay, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES Thunderbolt Ross finally grows a decent moustache worthy of his legacy in his RED HULK form. And all is well in the world.
LET NO MOHAWK TEAR ASUNDER
As a comics fan who grew up on (the Greek reprints of) the Claremont/Cockrum/Smith Uncanny X-Men run of the 80s, all I have to state for the closing page of WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #19 (reuniting “Kitten” with her once-mother figure Storm) is: AWWWWWWW!!!
This is one fundamental X-relationship I had long missed, both characters were poorer for its loss.
You’ve never seen Rogue cut loose like this. Rogue has gone through a significant amount of evolution in both her character and her control of her powers during her stay as the lead hero of X-MEN LEGACY. Now that her run is over with #275, Christos Gage has her go out in spectacular style, in a big-ass super-villain prison throwdown that smartly juxtaposes where she came from (through her mentorship relationship with Mimic suffering through similar self-doubt issue as she once did and her interactions with the other super-villains) and where she is right now. Gage and Carey have struggled long and hard to get her to this point, where she is a strong character in her own rights without having to use the handicap of her powers to give her an interesting edge, I hope all this progress doesn’t get whitewashed now that she is moving over to Uncanny Avengers.
A SENSE OF BROTHERHOOD
AVX CONSEQUENCES #4-5 has brought the confused, defeated, pariah Cyclops from the end of AVX into focus as a very focused and ruthless new leader for a new era. The transition through #1-5 has been very organic to the character and has brought an intriguing reversal in the trademark opposite roles that he and Wolverine have kept for the best part of the past decade. Cyclops and Magneto are forming a new kind of Brotherhood, redefining the concept of the “Evil” and hated mutant, and Marvel Now suddenly seems like such a VERY exciting new era.
ACTION COMICS #14 pits Superman versus the tractor Daleks (sorry, “Met”aleks) and the (Weeping) Angels in a nonsensical ultra-epic battle that canonly be resolved with a last minute rudimentary understanding of basic quantum physics. The backup feature still (again) manages to snag at a geeky emotional nerve as Superman bids farewell to the light ghost image of Krypton dissipating from the telescope perception on Earth.
THE BOOKS OF — WTF?
I swear, if even the Books of Magic get turned into some silly Fourth World/Darkseid tie-in I’ll… oh, what’s the use. JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK ANNUAL #1 is just the sort of team-gathering storyline climax action epic that superhero books excelled at. Kinda ironic.
Yes, Nightcrawler does indeed teleport a MUTHAFRIGGIN’ SHARK inside Blob’s stomach tract and then gleefully watch one beast devour the other from inside in UNCANNY X-FORCE #33. It’s the sort of fan-fiction-y gore porn that takes away from the actually sweet moments of the issue, like Wolverine and Daken having a father-to-son heart-to-claws.
BLEEDING COOL BULLETINS
Take a deep breath now! I’m trying something different still. Everything else we read this week in one breath:
SHADOWMAN #1 a dark legacy passed down to a new host and heir – IRON MAN #1 the redemption of Greg Land and comic book technology taken to silly (putty) extremes – 47 RONIN #1 to know this story is to know Japan, and Stan Sakai knows Japan alright! – STORM DOGS #1 an all-new David Hine original sci-fi Image series featuring stunning character and culture designs by Doug Braithwaite – LOT 13 #1 observe how inappropriate colouring and art can ruin even a Steve Niles horror comic - THE HYPERNATURALS #5 a memory dangerous enough to end the world – DIAL H #6 a Golliwogg superheroic identity? What else lies in the book of dialed heroes rejects? – EDISON REX #4 attack of, well, Bizarro – HARVEST #4 illegal organ harvesting gone wrong-er – FASHION BEAST #3 the fall collection is a riot – WILLOW #1 solo, stranded on Quor’toth, armed with the scythe against a world of forced Wonderland references – SPIKE #3 just quiet drinks with a succubus aboard a starship helmed by giant bugs, of course – GRIMM FAIRY TALES ROBYN HOOD #2 noone gets raped or mutilated, hurray – AVENGERS #33 Wasp reveals the mystery (not) of her return – NEW AVENGERS #32 Bendis has one last wank over Brother Voodoo – ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #16.1 Betty Brant closes in on Spidey’s true identity and JJJ grows a… journalistic integrity? – GREEN LANTERN #14 Baz versus the JL – AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #14 versus Moon Boy & Devil Dinosaur versus firebreathing cyborg velociraptors (huzzuh!) – AQUAMAN #13 Black Manta’s final showdown – BATMAN LIL GOTHAM Damian’s first Halloween – SWAMP THING ANNUAL #1 Becky Cloonan continues her DC takeover of beauty – CAPTAIN MARVEL #6 more time travel and wasted opportunities – BATGIRL ANNUAL #1 versus Catwoman versus the female Talon – X-FACTOR #246 a special Doop issue, starring Pip the Troll (now THAT would have been a team-up!) – EARTH 2 #6 shoot for the moon – DETECTIVE COMICS #14 Batman and Ivy fighting with a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g – GREEN ARROW #14 Hawkman guest-stars without any politics being discussed… why? – X-MEN #38 Daredevil and Domino fight the bank – STORMWATCH #14 Apollo and Midnighter making googly eyes at each other while punching Etrigan – PHANTOM LADY AND DOLLMAN #3 Funerella will be, um, the death of you? – ROAD TO OZ #3 donkey means “smart” and cannibal soup won’t fill itself…
It still breaks my geeky geeky heart to see great books like NEW MUTANTS, AVENGERS ACADEMY and X-MEN LEGACY — nay, my FAVOURITE books get cancelled to make way for Marvel NOW. IRON MAN and DEADPOOL were essentially the first real new books of the new initiative to premiere (I’m not counting UNCANNY AVENGERS as a monthly book anymore for the time being) and they were both, well… DEADPOOL was a step back in terms of what we’ve seen being done with the character. IRON MAN was not different or new enough for my tastes, it built on Fraction and Ellis’ crazy take on new technology (that successively stops feeling like technology at all) while moving the characters (wisely) even closer to their far more succesful movie counterparts. Hey, at least we got to see Greg Land find his dream book!
My favourite books from the past two weeks:
1 WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #19
2 AVX CONSEQUENCES #4-5
3 X-MEN LEGACY #275
4 DIAL H #6
5 COLDER #1
6 AVENGERS ACADEMY #39
7 FASHION BEAST #3
8 ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #16.1
9 IRON MAN #1
10 PERHAPANAUTS TROUBLE DOWN UNDER #1