Last Two Week’s Comics In Twenty-Five Panels

Dr Manolis V writes;

The internet’s most opinionated (and Merry) comics column of the New Year!.

This week: Amazing Spider-man #700, crazy Sif, sci-fi volleyball, gay Wolverine’s BF, and the second issues of Avengers Arena, FF and Avengers! How do they stack up?

DON’T YOU FORGET

[shamelessness] YOUNGBLOOD #75 is out tomorrow (on January 2nd), by McLaughlin, Malin (and Vamvounis). It’s got colorful superheroes, black and white gangsters, selective nudity and glossy magazines! Read the Bleeding Cool review here: bcool.bz/Uhm588 [/shamelessness]

THIS IS GONNA MESS UP MY PANEL COUNT SOMETHING FIERCE RIGHT OUT OF THE GATE

On the other hand: #aaaaaawwwww.

It’s been 6 issues and HAWKEYE is still Marvel’s freshest, most innovative book. Taking Chris Ware’s storytelling techniques and applying them on a modern Avengers book. Madness! In this Kwanzaa tale, told in brilliant mixed-up chronological order, Hawkeye debates running away from the angry mobsters he stole his apartment building from and struggles against the nefarious gordian tangle of his DVR. And yet it’s surprisingly not at all yawn-y but visually exciting and character-revealing, with Hawkeye hardly even throwing a punch on-panel.

It just goes to prove, there’s really no such thing as a bad character, just writers who are not Matt Fraction.

ARACHNOCK-BLOCK (ASM #700 SPOILERS)

I might start getting some death threats myself after that pun.

But seriously, what is up with you people? How could you be “surprised” with the “twist” of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700 after all the fuss around ASM #698 (where the real twist takes place) and the publicity around the mystery identity of the new “Superior” Spider-man? And still, even if this was the most Unexpected Development Ever, how many readers out there seriously think that the real Peter Parker is not going to be back in 10-12 months tops? I’m being generous here, considering Captain America’s and Batman’s more “permanent” deaths lasted even less than that.

Dan Slott has served a neat new concept for his new series, one I’m anxious to see him explore. It’s nature versus nurture at its worst. Examining how someone inherently “evil” (or at least foul) would handle not only Spidey’s powers but also his life experiences and memories.

The issue itself is a fitting finale for the book, although Slott tends to get carried away with the sappiness and Arachnock’s grandiose monologuing, but I love the way he sort of pokes fun at his own tropes as he reexamines Peter Parker’s most fundamental bonds and values through a hipster-y new set of eyes.

The real highlight for me was J.M. DeMatteis’ backup story, featuring a retired Peter (or Otto?) trying to piece together pieces of his past as he “comes out” to his great grandson and reestablishes what he has (wisely) come to consider his greatest responsibility. I miss J.M. on Spidey, I hope we get to see more of him during the next year.

P.S.. I’m with Doc Arachnock, MJ’s reaction in the above panel makes absolutely no sense.

OUR LADY SIF

Sif the righteous, Sif the brave, Sif the beautiful, Sif… the blood-thirsty Berserker?

I admit, it’s an intriguing premise for Sif’s solo residency on the JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY book with #646. Sif’s been tainted with a berserker rage of her own choosing that she already has a hard time controlling in #647, making for a grizzly yet fascinating read. The art by newcomer Valerio Schiti is nothing short of breathtaking and the editorial recap and letters pages help give this book a very distinctive identity, following from the fan-favourite Kid Loki run.

Oh, Sif, you crazy crazy warrior woman, what have you gotten yourself into this time?

LIGHTNING ROUND:

So many books, so little time:

KILL BILL 2 FOR DUMMIES

Well, I honestly appreciated the added sentiment about the fundamental difference between Bats and Supes. In other news, Superman and Wonder Woman still make for the world’s most perfect(ly boring) couple and the Captain Marvel (I will NOT call him Shazam) backup feature is still the best reason to keep buying this book.

PLAY BALL

MARA #1 is a sci-fi comic about an enigmatic professional Volleyball player in a war-ravage dystopian future where the masses have turned to sports as the ultimate distraction from destruction. A sci-fi volleyball comic. Hey, if anyone can pull it off, it’s Brian Wood! Surprisingly engrossing and with a bit of a punch to it. (sorry, I don’t have any good volleyball puns)

GOOGLE TRANSLATE JAPANESE

What makes the horrible Japanese translated “accents” of X-MEN LEGACY #3 even funnier is Si Spurrier’s clear intent to just say %#$%#$@% you all and have fun with them. Legion a.k.a. Notnormal-hair man didn’t seem like a character capable of maintaining his own series at first, but this book has been nothing but enjoyable, crazy imaginative and often-touching since its relaunch. I enjoyed the nice twist/wrench thrown in to limit Legion’s theoretically omnipotent power base, by making him actually fight (albeit in the plane of his own mind) for every single power he wants to access.

SAM AND BOBBY, TOGETHER AGAIN

AVENGERS #2 is all about the origin exposition and the gathering of the new team. Sure, Spider-man, Wolverine and the Hulk are still glossed over and continue to make little to no sense storywise (and are there really still people buying a book because Wolvie is in it?) but there’s no measuring the sheer geek joy of a kid growing up with X-Men comics from the 80s seeing Cannonball and Sunspot get the important call from Captain America.

RIPPED

I think I just had an impure thought about GILES! Christos Gage is not messing about in ANGEL & FAITH #17, fleshing out a classic Buffy villain and giving us a glimpse at the what-might-have-been of the aborted teen Giles “RIPPER” TV series (another possible spin-off?). Kudos to Rebekah Isaacs for a stunning likeness of what we had no idea a teen Giles would look like!

SOME LIKE IT GREEK

Ah, Hercules, the Marvel Multiverse’s bicycle! Him and Howlett (a.k.a. the golden-clawed queer Wolverine) do make for a cute couple . And wait till you check out alterna-Dazzler’s disco boots and the rainbow cupcake-covered My Little Mutant Pony alternate world of X-TREME X-MEN #8, now officially the GAYEST MARVEL COMIC OF THE YEAR!

DEATH LOCKET

Damn you, Hopeless. This girl could seriously grow on me. In a Terminator Mary Marvel kind of way. AVENGERS ARENA #2 keeps pushing on with the senseless teen slaughter, still without managing to generate any real interest in the premise. And what’s wrong with you, Braddock Academy kids? Why so bland?

AND NOW HOW TO DO IT RIGHT

Paul Jenkins’ DEATHMATCH #1 plays around with similar concept with a different twist, mixing Battle Royale survivalism with concepts as classic as Secret Wars. He builds a whole new superheroic pantheon here with great finesse, establishing connections and personalities without getting too exposition-y. By the end of the first issue you’re already invested in the mystery and the fate of these characters.

YOU KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS!

Damn right! The newest EMPOWERED SPECIAL #3 HELL BENT OR HEAVEN SENT is all glossy and colour-y, examining one of my favourite concepts from the cheeky/raunchy mangasploitation series, the super-powered STDs!

TOO MANY CAPTAIN MARVELS

Sure it’s fun to see Monica Rambeau (the original female Captain Marvel) guest-star in CAPTAIN MARVEL #8, even in that disconcerting lesbian innuendo-packed manner, yet– I would prefer if Carol got a chance to do her own thing and establish her new place in the current Marvel U. No time travel, no other Captain Marvels flying in, nothing else distracting from Carol herself and how cool her new look is :)

NEVER REALISED HOW MUCH I MISS YOU

CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND THE MI-13 was a damn good and under-appreciated book, mainly for how cool Pete Wisdom, Black Knight and Faiza, the new yielder of Excalibur were in it. GAMBIT #7 recaptures some of the magic although Diogenes Neves’ left foot must be cramping something foul by the look of the art inside.

TILL EVENT DO YOU PART

Storm and Black Panther may have never really gelled as a(n editorially and sales-mandated) married couple, but they still didn’t deserve the one-panel divor- sorry, ANNULMENT (for there is no talk of the dreaded D-word in Marvel Comics) treatment they got in AVX. A+X #3 takes a look at the two characters after the event and manages to rework all that nasty business to make sense for these two without any needless drama and stale villainizing.

SEE THERE IS THIS MACHINE…

…and it goes “BOOP BOOP” when there’s danger! It has its own room in FF #2 and it aptly encapsulates the silver age-ish pop art meets modern irreverence crazy nature of Allred and Fraction’s magical synergy on this book. BOOP BOOP.

MELTS YOUR HEART

Can we make an award up to give LOCKE & KEY: OMEGA #2? Just for how special every single appearance by Rufus has been, culminating in his standalone issue from a previous volume and his return in this issue, hinting at an actual important role he will be playing in the much-awaited grand finale of the series. WTF LOST, why couldn’t you have been this good in you final season? Or ANY season.

LOVE AT FIRST PANEL

Capturing the dopey look of love at first sight? That’s all there &^$%ing is to it. Courtesy of BKV and Fiona Staples, SAGA #8. That’s really nothing compared to how quickly they manage to make us care about the damn meddling in-laws!

PRESIDENT CAP NO CAN PUNCHY?

Are all these snippets from President Cap’s term consciously leading to a profound revelation that he is a muscle-bound idiot and this was all a terrible idea with unintentional allusions to harsher military dictatorships? ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES #19 still has one thing going for it, and that’s the last page reveal of… Well, scroll down past the SPOILERS barrier for that!

MIND THE SPOILERS

This could be something merely in-jokey, but still:

ULTIMATE WHITE NICK FURY!!?

After they went to SO much trouble to establish a movie-friendly Black Nick Fury in the main universe, why on any Earth would anyone change the black Ultimate Nick Fury that inspired the movie version into the original white one? My head hurts, but my curiosity is indeed piqued.

ALL SORTS OF MESSED UP

Just when you thought it was safe to get back on the internet, Fantomex gets resurrected in three (!) different cloned bodies to match each of his brains, as Remender wraps up his run on the book that essentially launched his Marvel career with UNCANNY X-FORCE #35, leaving no character un-dead and no plot thread unresolved. I still don’t see the point of this character other than a very ironic joke on Wolverine’s popularity – as I assume he was always intended to be. Is this Remender’s way of admitting he’s always been in on the joke?

A TERRIBLE SPOT

Huh. So the Spot has not magically been transformed into a remorseless drug trafficker and criminal mastermind. Daredevil is not secretly insane. They’re still both quite effed up though, as DAREDEVIL #21 attests. Mark Waid has a knack. He can give you an unexpected turn and make you fall in love with it, only to later pull a twist on the twist, negating it and still keep you as excited as you were before or more, never once compromising his devotion to these characters and the quality of his stories.

LOVE IS H’EL

On the one hand, it’s nice to see SUPERGIRL finally exhibiting signs of teenage girlyness, even this late in her run. Then again, isn’t the Nu-Bizarro, “H’el”, a bit too Krypton Scissorhands (translation for the youngsters: Ugly Pattinson) for her? I could totally see this working.

THE THREE FAIRY TALE LAYINGS OF BUFKIN AND LILY

That Willingham is nothing if not meticulous and thorough. FABLES #124 serves as an epilogue to those cute (but seemingly never-ending) three-page “Bufkin in Oz” vignettes from the past year, by examining just what Bufkin and his “girlfriend”, the miniscule Barley Bride Lily, got up to in the following, oh… 742 years (!) after the events of last issue, including all the adventures, the transformations, the resulting how-do-you-dos and of course the birthing of an empire of progeny!

THE TALLY

I’m unsure how I feel about Marvel’s strange commitment to pumping out issues of their Marvel NOW books on a bi-weekly (or weekly!!) basis. It feels like just last week we were all ranting on about AVENGERS ARENA #1 (re: it was!) and now #2 is already out, along with like the 12th issue of the new IRON MAN book. For some of them, the fastest they come out, the happiest I am (ALL-NEW X-MEN #4!!! FF#2!!!) while for others it kinda acts to kill their momentum. It’s been a month and I’m already 4 issues behind on IRON MAN? I’ll just wait for the next reboot.

ASM #700 was the big highlight of the week. The ironic bit of news (and Slott might blackwall me for this) is that a tribe of readers managed to read it un-spoiled by the mass media thanks to it leaking online a week or two before publication time. Isn’t it time Marvel reconsidered it’s same day massive spoiler press release strategy?

My top ten favorite books from the past two weeks:

  1. HAWKEYE #6
  2. DEATHMATCH #1
  3. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700
  4. AVENGERS #2
  5. X-MEN LEGACY #3
  6. FF #2
  7. EMPOWERED SPECIAL #3
  8. ALL-NEW X-MEN #4
  9. SAGA #8
  10. MARA #1