The internet's most opinionated (and Greek) comics column! By Dr Manolis V;
It's only a medium-sized AVX finale rant this week, followed by boobs, gays, lesbians, transvestites, transgender, trans-species, necrophilia, paraphilia, rape, more rape, mutilation and a cock crossed with a hula hoop. Comics everyone!
THIS IS ALL I'LL SAY ABOUT THE AVX FINALE:
"CAPTAIN AMERICA IS A JERK!"
Fine, fine. Here's the longer version:
AVX #12 is a VERY disappointing conclusion to a crossover that has indeed had its ups and downs along the way, but had remained an altogether rather enjoyable affair. In the end, it all comes back to that first encounter between Scott and Cap on the Utopia beachfront.
From the very start, it was Cyclops who was all happy hopes and dreams about the Phoenix's arrival reigniting the mutant race through its chosen host, Hope. Cap and the Avengers were the ones who instigated this war, attacked the X-Men on their home turf, kidnapped Hope, shot at the Phoenix Force, causing it to disperse onto the Phoenix Five, and then attacking the Phoenix Five for succeeding to bring forth peace and prosperity on Earth, nudging and prodding them into the Dark Phoenix – and then blaming Scott Summers for the whole thing.
In the end, the Phoenix Force is one-punched out of Cyclops by Hope (literally ONE punch, Batman would be proud) and the new White Phoenix Hope peacefully disperses the Phoenix over the world, reigniting the dormant mutant X-gene. Face facts, Cap:
CYCLOPS WAS RIGHT.
O ye of little faith, Cap.
WHITE HOT BOUNDARIES
You can bet Morrison would have played off the gutters of the page being the walls of the Phoenix's White Hot Room or something meta-modern and creatively pretentious like that. UNCANNY X-MEN #19 reads a bit like a bit of fan-fiction during its "Scott Summers, this is your life" segment, but it ultimately delivered a very redeeming view of Cyclops' actions during AVX's finale, juuuuust short of having a fanboy run across the page in a "Cyclops Was Right" T-Shirt on the last page. There is simply no denying the incredible power of the scene above, especially compared to the kinda hallucinogenic throwaway panel sequence in the main series.
P.S. What is WRONG with that Dark Scott costume design? Surely there must have been SOME creative way to male-ize the Dark Phoenix costume. Heck, I'll even take the crotchless wonder, Giraud.
At the end of the day, if there is one lesson we should take from AVX, it's this: ICEMAN IS COOL!
AVX VERSUS #6 is awesome for a great variety of reasons, most of which Rich already spelled out in his AVX review. Iceman defeating Iron Fist by forming icey little fists out of the falling rain is at the top of the list, but every single story beat from the gazillion one-page vignettes in here is just as creative and enjoyable (Jarvis vs Toad, Squirrel Girl vs Pixie, Domino vs Rulk, Jeph Loeb & Hawkeye vs Feminism, Bendis vs Himself). This is the event wrap-up book you SHOULD be reading.
[GEEK-RANT]I've fallen a bit behind on my SCARLET SPIDER, so I was in for a shock when Kaine (Spidey's dead-again-alive-again second bestest clone) is parading around a hospital with his mask off in MINIMUM CARNAGE: ALPHA. I mean, they have the same bloody face, it's not like he dyed his hair blond or wore some black rim glasses. Tres inconsiderate to the guy who gave him his genes and his dead clone's sloppy seconds threads. [/GEEK-RANT]
In the story itself, kicking off the crossover between this title and VENOM, Carnage has escaped prison and unleashed… some small people (?) into the Prometheus Pit (?!?) and it's all very bad and the two heroes are going to fight next issue due to a misunderstanding. It's all very… exciting????
GUARDING HER GLOBES
Who are these groping women? You wouldn't know from reading GUARDING THE GLOBE #2. What should be a fun comic for anyone to pick up and enjoy (it manages to balance the fun versus offensive scale of something called a RAPE BOMB!), sort of collapses in itself from the sheer mass number of characters you know nothing about and frankly can't be convinced to care, which are still mysteriously treated as Avengers-level household names.
CASE IN POINT
THE HYPERNATURALS #4 finally delivers on the promised coolness of "Clone 45" and, well, he's every bit as intriguing as he was built up to be. I call it the Wolverine effect, when developed successfully. The latest (or second-to-latest) in a long line of heroes who is able to access the "Sequence" of powers and knowledge from all his predecessors, individually or collectively. Nifty. This series has slowly and methodically built up its backstory (through admittedly sometimes confusing time jumps) and main cast within these few issues and it's exactly the type of well-crafted and involved superhero opera that fans of DnA have come to expect.
A.I. LOVE YOU
The toys have woken up in the chilling future of the new Image series by Whilce Portacio and Glen Brunswick, NON-HUMANS #1. Plush toys, ragdolls, automatons, even mannequins are achieving sentience through the power of, um, children's devotion and are protesting for equal rights, even as humans are doping up their kids to stop the new non-race from spreading. It's disconcerting, in the best of ways. This implausible sci-fi world draws you in and then traps you hopelessly inside. The setting and the protagonist are pitch-perfect noir, but it's the surprising humanity and quiet despair of these misnamed non-humans that really give this book its heart.
Chris Roberson and Dennis Culver's EDISON REX #3 is pure Silver Age goofiness and magic re-examined under a modern perspective. Edison Rex (our Lex Luthor type) is trying to take his world's Superman's place, but people seem intent on seeing his actions through a very narrow prism. There's a certain "Carl Barks" innocence and charming simplicity to the plot structure of this series, while also building up to a greater character arc. You can purchase this comic online only through Roberson's MonkeyBrain
The rest of the week in panels:
Chris Roberson is quickly out-MarkWaid-ing Mark Waid in the "digital comics race". His dreamy IDW mini-series MEMORIAL is getting a digital-only sequel with MEMORIAL IMAGINARY FRIENDS #1, to be released in bi-weekly 9-page segments. The first issue is a completely new-reader friendly (and delightful) story featuring senile grandmothers, recaptured childhoods and fantasy brought to life.
AVENGERS ACADEMY #38 is one of those sorta classic Claremontian geek-bait softball/baseball/whatever games where two teams meet and just chat away while the artist is kept busy drawing fake battle match-ups. Yeah, I LOVED IT! In the one-page sequence above Gage uses costume design of all things and a deft love for continuity (as in character history) to tackle the central themes of this book, growing up and maturation.
Slott and Gage are playing up Spidey's Spider-Sense, well, playing up to hilarious OCD extremes in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #695, in the new storyline bringing the Hobgoblin arc to a close. I'll miss "eeeeeeevil" Phil Urich, I enjoyed the early stories with him as a sort of broken mirror image of Peter.
PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE THUG IN GREEN EITHER
GREEN LANTERN #13 was a better #1 than the actual DCNu GL #1 was. Not weighed down by excess continuity and Johns baggage, this and #0 are a great introduction to Baz, the still very dubiously "extreme" new Green Lantern. It does feel a bit like DC trying to get their own Miles Morales, but edgier.
IT'S A CLASSIC WAR VET BUDDY MOVIE
…only one of the guys is a Tank, and the other a naked old man dressed in the american flag. I see potential in this. After all, there is something inherently cool about "the Haunted Tank" and Tomasi with Chaykin are surely the guys to deliver on its promise. G.I. COMBAT #5 thankfully takes a sharp turn into the more peculiar after a year of general disinterest.
Is it just me, or would Apollo and Midnighter make an amazing pair of companions for the Eleventh Doctor Who? Can't anyone at DC make this crossover happen? In STORMWATCH #13 the Demon Etrigan's (Gone Gone the form of man, rhyming, yellow pointy everything and so on) slumber in London's concrete belly is causing all sorts of foulness to surface in the weak-minded souls above.
FAIREST #8 kicks off a new storyline, starring Rapunzel, Jack and that Crow hairdresser brother on a mission in Japan. It was such a trip getting back into Fables vol.1 mindset in terms of who is doing what (or whom) and where everything is.
ALAN MOORE ON POST-APOCALYPTIC GENDER ISSUES
FASHION BEAST #2 is a very disturbed look at the world through the eyes of the fashionatti, in a dystopian future where couture rules over all. Even if you haven't read #1, this is a very enjoyable story in itself. This is everything you'd expect an Alan Moore movie script to be – Dave Sim must be pretty angry someone did Glamourpuss right, 20 years ago.
POWER GIRL BOOBWATCH
What was the point of getting rid of Power Girl's "boob window" if she's going to get her new costume ripped to shreds every month? WORLD'S FINEST #5 addresses this in a charming wink wink manner, in one of two self-contained solo stories about the two girl friends and protagonists.
NECROPHILIA IS IN
BLOODSTRIKE #31, erm, strikes that sort of unhealthy balance between superheroes, zombies and sex comedy. It's the team of endlessly resurrectible mercenaries that are just too sexy for their graves. Tim Seeley is milking the concept for all it's worth and really taking the time to get into the unlikely mindset of these once throwaway characters.
Damn, let's rein it back in!
MEET POLYCHROME, THE RAINBOW'S DAUGHTER
… just another brilliant interpretation of an L. Frank Baum character by Skottie Young, in ROAD TO OZ #2. It's like magically decanted loveliness and fantasy.
Andy Diggle is laying it thick with the expository foreshadowing in the new DOCTOR WHO (V.3) #1. That big honking mirror that is able to latch onto alternate realities isn't helping matters either. But hey, the voices are all dead on, the banter is lively and Mark Buckingham is drawing the Eleventh with the Ponds in Victorian England. What's not to like?
MIND THE SPOILERS
You've been warned!
A SUPERBOY'S BEST FRIEND
Can't really believe it took Grant Morrison (a phenomenal Silver Age Superman fanboy) so long to finally bring Krypto into play. The origin he comes up with here (Krypto following Superman around as a ghost during his entire life on Earth) has so much potential for gushy wet weepy reader eyes, but it's only Sholly Fisch who really banks on it, in the issue's fairly short backup story. Morrison was too busy babbling about sciencey stuff.
DAREDEVIL END OF DAYS #1 is an unconventional take on these kinda-missed "The End" limited series. It starts off with his hero's death and builds a very compeling mystery around Daredevil's last words, incomprehensible as they might seem, which ought to hold the key to the unexpected fall of Hell's Kitchen once greatest hero. Bendis returns to say goodbye to Daredevil and pen what looks to be his greatest Ben Urich story yet.
MIND YOUR DECENCY
… aaaaaand things get raunchier:
If Rich holds an awards category for most misogynistic comic of the year, Zenescope's ROBYN HOOD #1 should be the clear winner. Therein the orphaned teenage female protagonist is hit by a careless driver in an intersection and then dragged out of her car bleeding by some pissed-off spoiled rich boy schoolmates of hers who proceed to tear her clothes off and CUT HER EYE OUT with a piece of shrapnel because she resisted their attempt to gang rape her. In the following scene we learn the kids' parents are also suing her for the damage done to their car. WTF Zenescope!
Congratulations, BLACK KISS II #3, this is officially the most perverted horror/rape scene I've ever seen. It's a demented masturbatory fantasy of a book that just keeps pushing and pushing the boundaries of bad taste and acceptable depravity. This would be the Marquis de Sade's (or better yet, Garth Ennis') choice of beat-off mag indeed. And strangely enough, it's still a compelling read. More power to Howard Chaykin for having classy enough art to counterbalance his seedy (pun intended) writing.
COCKWATCH PART II
Part cockerel, part hula hoop, it's… the strangest bizarre (and fantastic) super-heroic identity to sprout out of the pages of DIAL H #5. This issue wraps up the first storyline of the book in a spectacular action sequence that offers new twists to the exciting mythology of this series that has really benefited from its DCNu reboot.
Sorry I just need a moment to compose myself after all this rampant deviant behaviour this week.
Looking back at the AVX event as a whole, the Avengers are clearly the oppressive forces of the status quo, versus the radical X-Men and their hippie peace-loving ways. The plot gains a fascinating undertone when you realize that, if it hadn't been for those pesky meddling Avenjerks the Phoenix would have joined with Hope, brought Utopia on Earth and saved the mutant race without any (completely inconsequential and sales-driven) casualties. Unfortunately this is never addressed or even hinted at in the series proper (which is too busy painting the Avengers as the winners), and the crossover is so much shallower for it.
AVX VERSUS #6 was a very welcome fun (piss) take on the seriousness and fatal banality of the whole event, I just wish the main event had stolen some of it's lightheartedness. AVENGERS ACADEMY makes the top of my list this week for the same reasons. They allow the characters' personalities to come through instead of suppressing and twisting them for the sake of the almighty event plot.
The rest of the week was either delightfully whimsical and old-fashioned (EDISON REX, MEMORIAL, ROAD TO OZ, ACTION COMICS), hauntingly mature (FASHION BEAST, NON-HUMANS, DAREDEVIL END OF DAYS) or downright NASTY with pent-up sexual undertones (BLOODSTRIKE, BLACK KISS II and the downright inexcusable ROBYN HOOD – even by Zenescope standards).
There is a way to portray these kind of extreme situations. Admittedly, BLACK KISS II was muh more extreme in both themes and presentation than ROBYN HOOD, but it was still classy in its own filthy way, there was a method and a purpose to it. ROBYN HOOD was just cheap and poorly thought through, exploitation for the sake of fast food characterisation.
Here are my picks for the best books of the week, check back with your retailer tomorrow if you've missed them:
1. AVX VERSUS #6
2. AVENGERS ACADEMY #38
3. NON-HUMANS #1
4. EDISON REX #3
5. FASHION BEAST #2
6. STORMWATCH #13
7. ACTION COMICS #13
8. DAREDEVIL END OF DAYS #1
9. GREEN LANTERN #13
10. THE HYPERNATURALS #4