Last Week’s Comics In Eighteen Pictures: Before Watchmen, Spider-Men, Ends Of The Earth, Buffy On Buffy Action, Bendis Rants And Massive Wood

Posted by June 20, 2012 Comment

Dr Manolis Vamvounis writes for Bleeding Cool;

Last week in panels (in a hurry):


The 2003-06 era Joe Quesada would have lots of choice snarky comments about this year’s SPIDER-MEN #1, the first official 616/Ultimate Marvel crossover. All I’ll say is that I was disappointed by the non-eventness of it all. This first issue is the comic book equivalent of biding time for the big moment everyone was waiting for (Peter and Miles meeting for the first time), which should have been on the very front of the book. I still appreciate the little touches like Peter’s reactions to the way his younger counterpart is now revered over there.


It’s so hard to stay pissed off and righteous about the BEFORE WATCHMEN project when you have such pretty, fluffy, cutesy coming of age stories like SILK SPECTRE #1 and creators like Amanda Conner and DARWYN COOKE involved. This book (unlike MINUTEMEN last week) is very different in mood and approach from the original WATCHMEN series, focusing on fleshing out the younger miss Jupiter’s character as a teen. If you half-squint and pretend this is a Black Canary book it’s an entertaining read. Hey, DC, why ISN’T this a BLACK CANARY book?!?


Oh shush, I’m not even the first one to crack that lame joke. Three new Brian Wood books in a single week is a darn impressive feat. The first is THE MASSIVE #1 (he he) from Dark Horse, featuring a trio of radical environmentalists out in deep ocean on their own searching for their mysteriously disappeared sister ship after a world-wide environmental apocalypse. Yes, it’s basically Battlestar Galactica at sea. It’s a pretty standard Brian Wood indy book by all accounts, which is to say, it’s up to his usual high standards, but there’s not enough hook there yet, not in the characters or the concept.


The other two new Wood first issues this week are both X-books. X-MEN #30 sees the book finally move away from its failed claim to lure in the Twilight crowd and get a real team line-up and purpose. Said purpose is a thinly veiled “the Cyclops camp’s version of X-FORCE” and the line-up is mostly borrowed from every other X-book. This is both Storm and Psylocke’s THIRD current team membership, with Psylocke having the honour of being a member on the covert action teams of BOTH opposing mutant camps. Sneaky. Wood loves writing Pixie and he has a great take on her, but the real stand-out here is Storm, finally making it back to the big leagues and showing some tasty defiance against the all-knowing Cyclops’ rules. This is also the first time she has looked this good in ages, thanks to the new take on her tiara and some subtle costume tweaks by the always dependable and classy David Lopez. This book just jumped from the bottom of the X-pile to (near) the top.


ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN #13 (the last of the week’s Wood books) manages in one issue to encapsulate everything outgoing writer Nick Spencer had been struggling to establish since the new book launched. A small group of mutant teens forced into sudden maturity, forming a militant force against a world that is truly guns-blazing against them. This is the X-men concept taken to the extreme. Others have tried this before, but this is the first time it “feels” right.


I was on the fence about Frenzy’s sappy child abuse backstory (gods, I’m so P.C. today) in X-MEN LEGACY #268. Thankfully, it took an unexpected turn that really brought this whole issue around and made a believable sympathetic protagonist out of her without sacrificing her “unique” behavioral quirks. Yes, she is still an ill-tempered racist mutant supremacist bitch. Is it cool if I adore her? I like how joining the “good guys” has not dulled her edge and she can still balance between conflicted and downright offensive.

Какого хрена они говорят?

Um, translation please? AVX VERSUS #3 was underwhelming for the sheer predictability of the match-ups (yet again Colossus versus yet again the Thing, here I thought these Avengers and X-teams were big and varied) and their outcomes (did Black Widow EVER have a chance against Illyana?). Strange versus Illyana would have been a much more interesting battle to see. Then again, the good Doctor is neither Russian nor a babe.


Superboy and “Wonder Girl”. These two star-crossed lovers will NOT be getting it on anytime soon in the DCNu. I like the twist on the tired old “young and horny teens stranded on a remote mystery island find love” recipe that Lobdell has managed to pull TWICE in the past few months. First in RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #6 and now this week in SUPERBOY #10. This was the first truly enjoyable issue of the book, finally taking the character outside the stale NOWHERE labs and out into the real world. Or at least as real as a question mark-shaped upside-down island populated by dinosaurs can be.


It’s Damian versus Nightwing and Red Robin and Red Hood in BATMAN AND ROBIN #10, but sadly still no Stephanie Brown. Damian is out to prove himself and Tomasi is surely out to make this personal. Lots of high points this month, and it’s all the little details that make this issue: the legion of deformed bat-crooks, the Wayne family portrait, the continuing grimness of Titus the bat-hound, Bruce and Alfred spending quality time sharpening batarangs in their cute little twin mills down in the Bat-Cave.


The head may detach, but I got it for free from the fine folks at Travelling Man Manchester a few years ago! Seeing the costume in action in AME-COMI BATGIRL #1 I can safely conclude that a) this is the best Batgirl costume we’ve ever seen Babs in, especially compared to the current armor-rific mess she’s in and b) Sanford Greene should take over the regular BATGIRL book. Clean, fun and youthful. Qualities any Batgirl* desperately needs.

*Cassandra Cain notwithstanding


Did Scott Snyder just out-Morrison Morrison? Instead of Thomas Wayne, the long lost black sheep of the Wayne family from the 17th century, we now get Thomas Wayne Jr, Bruce long lost (twin?) brother from some forgotten silver age story that everyone claims “totally knew about all along”. Has there never been a single Wayne man or woman able to resist the urge to put on body armour and go about the night dressed like a flying furry? (I’m counting Flashpoint Batman into this equation).


Don’t you hate it when your innocent childhood comic book characters get turned all evil, dark and twisty? Even if it’s someone as dumb as bricks as the Rhino. He was always so fun and goofy. Guys like David, Milligan and Van Lente did a stellar job of putting some drama inside the man inside the irremovable dorky Rhino suit and it’s all been leading organically into this monster psychotic Rhino that we witness in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #687 (the finale of the riveting ENDS OF EARTH storyline). The major death inside the issue was so shocking, not because of the character him/herself (frankly, who EVER cared) but due to the immense lead-up to it with Spidey’s determination to avoid any more victims (“noone dies”) and the horribleness of those two quiet little panels.


AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #4 just brought us the awesome. I do hope the monthly GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY book makes a return following their exposure in this movie-inspired book. It’s Bug and Rocket Raccoon and a bunch of murderous green space people with EXTREME!!! eye-shadow. You know you love it!


Let’s just clarify. This is the AVENGERS! Betrayal is what they cope with best.

[GEEK-RANT] Was that the full culmination of the plot behind the Protector’s (formerly the radical and interesting new MARVEL BOY by Grant Morrison) inclusion in Bendis’ AVENGERS line-up? #27 sees the space Avengers team simply go crazy on the poor guy’s ass for “oh no betraying the team”… for 5 seconds before he actually sees right and saves the world. I mean, Beast is literally gnarling at his face. No trial, they just simply abandon him to his death. This is the same team that has taken back in Iron Man, Ms Marvel, Ms Masque, Wonder Man, Moondragon, Jocasta, Hank Pym, oh yeah, and the freaking genocidal Scarlet Witch! And how the hell is this tying into AVX or the other Hala-based AVX tie-in starring the same characters and running concurrently in SECRET AVENGERS? [/GEEK-RANT]


It’s insane Buffy on Buffy action as the one-armed Buffybot containing Buffy’s consciousness does battle with the original (but currently brain-washed and mind-wiped) Buffy body. That’s probably just as much Buffy as you’ll EVER need. And there’s some deeper stuff dealing with Buffy’s (either Buffy’s) current no-direction-ness, lack of future prospects and general chronic fuck-things-up-itis. All in BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 9 #10. Buffy Buffy Buffy. Buffy.


UNCANNY X-FORCE #26 is the most disgusting book I’ve read all year. It’s sick enough to make Garth Ennis cringe. Face-skinnings (and washing said face scalp with a garden hose), graphic decapitations, vomiting and acts of general graphic violence. Its only redeeming quality is good old obese Wolvie (Fat Logan as we like to call him here), who abruptly stops being that funny once he moves to CLAW OUT his own lard fat as a disturbed alternative to weight-watchers. Back in the 80s they would have simply let him sweat it out in the desert or something, creators were far more humane to the concerns of the obese community. Now they just say in your face: “are you fat? Might as well grab a knife and rip your guts out”.


Then again, MARVEL ZOMBIES DESTROY #3 is rated 12+ and has a VERY graphic eye gouging sequence. Someone should really sit Marvel down and have a word about their ratings. Would they really feel comfortable handing this book out to a 13-year old?


Let’s end on a high note.

COW BOY #1 by the crazy hip Nate Cosby and Chris Eliopoulos is your typical hard-boiled western story… only so much cuter! You want to run away from him screaming for your life and pinch his cheeks at the same time. Only, the latter would undoubtedly lead to the former. You can read the first four chapters for free here.

I’d say this was a very uneven week.

Brian Wood pretty much nailed it out of the gate with (most of) his three new books, making a dynamic return to superhero comics,with a better understanding of mainstream comic storytelling than during his last go at them (the still underrated GENERATION-X revamp with Steve Pugh). Maybe this new launch will lead to a resurrection of his NYX pitch (also known in certain circles as “the one with Rogue’s dildo collection”). Bendis didn’t fare as well, botching the (already boring to read) AVENGERS book and his usually classy work on anything to do with Ultimate Spidey.

MARVEL ZOMBIES DESTROY features this week’s WTF moment, counterbalanced only by the sheer cuteness of COW BOY and SILK SPECTRE (even with that pseudo cumshot sequence near the end).

Despite the big reveal in BATMAN, that character’s death in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN was the most dramatic, uneasy moment of the week, followed by the much louder turn of events in X-MEN LEGACY.

And then of course there’s Fat Logan, but the sooner we forget that book, the better.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the special journalistic screening of the new AMAZING SPIDER-MAN MOVIE here in Athens. Follow me on @theComicsGreek for updates!

(Last Updated June 20, 2012 2:28 pm )