The internet’s most opinionated (and Greek) comics column. By Dr Manolis V.
GREEK, LIKE MORBIUS
Morbius? Michael Morbius, pasty-rat-faced vampire in a unitard, THAT Michael Morbius? According to AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #699.1 (really MORBIUS #0.1 a backdoor pilot to the upcoming Joe Keatinge ongoing) he indeed grew up in Nafplio, his mother had a store there, yet they all spoke in english, everyone called him “Michael” (instead of the greek “Michalis”) and his best friend was a possibly immigrant boy called Emil.
This is of course the same Emil who would grow up to become the scientist who puts Morbius under the experimental procedure that transforms him into the “lamest vampire alive” and (apparently) also genetically alters his patient robes into a superhero outfit complete with red disco collar and silly under-arm flappy wings made of red fabric. Consider that my silly “it’s not the 60s anymore” NERD-RANT for the wee–
–Oh, whoamIkiddin’? You all know I’m going to rip AVENGERS ARENA #1 a new one. You’ll just have to wait until after the spoiler warning line.
Uncharacteristic balls-ifying of Havoc aside, CABLE AND X-FORCE #1 was a fun first issue, reintroducing Cable as an actually realistically grounded and grim-n-gritty soldier type, post-flashing eye, post-ridiculous T.O. arm, he’s actually an interesting guy to read about. Hope also finally gets a reading that takes into account her history of upbringing and experiences.
Please bear this positive review of Dennis Hopeless’ work in mind when we reach my AVENGERS ARENA rant.
SURPRISINGLY, SHE’S HAD WORSE
Poor Jan, always shrinking for the wrong man. Isn’t it time yet to retire the concept of the “DARK AVENGERS” (still hate that branding umbrella), along with the zillion different alternate reality books? This latest incarnation (officially taking over the old T-bolts book with #184) features the throwaway imitation team that in good faith should have never been mentioned again. On top of everything, do we still need to be reminded that at one point Reed Richards considered it ok to create a cyborg clone of his friend and ally to use as a weapon? Leave it to Jeff Parker to somehow make all this still somehow interesting.
JUST GO ON YOUR DAMN FOUR-MINUTE TRIP ALREADY
I mean, sheesh. Fraction’s “we’re only gonna be gone for four minutes but we might as well choose our replacement” thing started off as a goofy nod to roster changes past, but DAMN MAN GET THIS SHIT OVER WITH! This already-three-issue-long preparation for the trip has already eaten away at my suspension of disbelief. Are they all subconsciously (and rightfully so) accepting of the fact that none of their plans ever go right anyway (but they would still risk carrying the kids along?) or they that distrustful of the Avengers and the Earth’s Other Mightiest Heroes that they don’t think the world can survive without a Fantastic Four for four freakin’ minutes? (FANTASTIC FOUR #2)
Blink and you’ll miss them:
A CHANGE WILL DO YOU GOOD
I read through CHANGE #1 twice, back to back, and I really don’t have any idea what’s going on, but I absolutely love to. If you’re a fan of Cthulhu, Hollywood, possessed fetuses and/or drugs, you should take some and dive right in.
MAGNETO + TEENAGE GIRL HORMONES =
That Nomi is quickly growing into quite the rhymes-with-bryan-hitch as Brian Wood explores the true story and political impact of concepts like the mutant Decimation and Utopia in an Ultimate Universe where there are no rules and brand reservations. There are exactly twenty mutants left in the world, mostly teenagers and they have been exiled to start their own country in the middle of a barren radioactive desert. Everything will go wrong. (ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN #20)
I couldn’t resist posting this entire hysteric back-and-forth from X-TREME X-MEN #7.1 as Dazzler and her team of dimensionally-challenged X-Men unknowingly returns to “our” Marvel U, in the wake of AVX. It’s the same unsettling feeling as Bendis’ ALL-NEW X-MEN at 0.01% the word count.
AWESOMEST MID-FLIGHT ACTION SEQUENCE IN AVENGERS HISTORY
Lookitthem go! DeConnick and Stefano Caselli have created an action scene worthy of being included in the next Avengers movie. Plus, I’m digging the now conscious effort to make Miss- er CAPTAIN MARVEL one of Marvel’s genuinely major heroes. (AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #10).
RIDDLE ME THIS
How very Christopher Nolan this nu Riddler is! Snyder and Tynion are pushing the OCD elements of his personality forward in a very calm, controlled and manipulative manner. The main story in BATMAN #15 unfortunately spends too much time to make up for how uncoordinated the Bat-family comes out looking, if a single man can personally ambush each and every one of them without any of them managing to warn the others.
PATRICK GLEASON IS GIVING ME EVILS
Is this level of graphic horror still acceptable? BATMAN AND ROBIN #15 is horrifying enough to give Vertigo readers nightmares – and yet the art is so incredibly detailed and alluring and the Joker himself hits the exact notes of creepiness and geekboy dementia that Snyder originally intended with this re envisioning. It’s a gem, but it should come polybagged, with a MR rating on the cover.
MIND THE SPOILERS
You’ve been warned, no more crying in the comments section!
THE KILLING VOWS
This Batgirl/Joker meeting did NOT go as planned. Gail Simone releases a dark streak inside Barbara in BATGIRL #15, that feels both genuine and unsettling.
Ugh, sorry. Too far, SUICIDE SQUAD #15. Unlike the other books there were no redeeming qualities to offset the sheer amateurish gore of the thing. Adam Glass tried to topple the Joker-Harley dynamic much like what Gail did in BATGIRL, but this was a far less successful take, going against the grain of the character.
IN HIS SHOES
You’re not seeing double. That’s SUPERBOY in the Jim Lee-issue Kryptonian super-armour and SuperMAN in the Morrison T-shirt and cape combo. It’s complicated, read SUPERBOY #15 for the full story, bringing the “Super-Family” closer together in a way that actually works to flesh out each book and give us memorable self-contained issues within the framework of the larger crossover story that Lobdell is plotting with his devious Nu take on Bizarro.
Who gives two craps about Hal Jordan, Sinestro or whatsisname, Peter J Tomasi continues to make Guy Gardner the most relatable, powerful and interesting GL to read. In GREEN LANTERN CORPS #15 Guy Gardner is having a difficult time adjusting to life outside the Corps – and by that I mean he goes apeshit existential crisis crazy and bloodies his fists on the walls before deciding to become the Batman of Baltimore. Oh, that Guy.
HOLY SHITBALLS, KIRKMAN
Negan continues to fascinate me and THE WALKING DEAD #105 may be the single best issue of the series so far. After the horrible emotional beating that was #100 (keep it in mind as we edge closer towards the inevitable AVENGERS ARENA bashing), Kirkman here shows us a different side to Negan, through the surprising way he choose to “spare” young Carl’s life, yet still put him through an unbelievably intense volley of psychological torture, at times revealing a questionably deranged “human” side.
I’ve chosen not to spoil the sight of Carl’s deformed face here, it’s a very vulnerable and shockingly exploitative portrayal of the character that amplifies the horrifying nature of this story.
LOOK WHAT THE OLD ONES DRAGGED IN
The new scooby gang forming in BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #16 looks to be the most exciting yet – sure Dowling is almost as exciting as Riley before him, but the addition of Billy the gay slayer sidekick and now ILLYRIA (is she here to stay?) promise a very exciting 2013 indeed.
Justin Jordan pits DEATHSTROKE against an unkillable man in his first issue on the book (#15) – and, well, there really aren’t many ways to make them feel it. It’s an approach reminiscent of Kyle Higgins’ opening run on the title, without the benefit of a master storyteller like Joe Bennett proved to be.
AND HERE WE GO
Now, see, I understand the need to “amp up” your villain, create a sense of imminent danger, “anyone is expendable” and so on. When done right, it creates an intimate connection between the reader and the characters. This is not a striking and tragic last page shocker that Dennis Hopeless has earned.
X-FORCE #116 is the ultimate example of this. Pete Milligan and Mike Allred created an entirely new cast of characters, fleshed them out within the space of their first issue, did interviews on them, made the reader excited about their stories — and then they butchered all of them in the most graphic fashion on the last page of their first issue. BOOM.
In AVENGERS ARENA #1, it’s a different sort of dread – about how your favourite characters (that talented writers and artists before have struggled and sweated to make popular enough for them to have the discomfort of appearing in this book) are now in the hands of a creative team that won’t hesitate a second to just do away with them for the sake of cheap thrills.
Would this scene have had the same impact if it had been one of the new kids Hopeless created instead of the established kid? Of course not. They are all non-entities at this point, random codenames on random kids. But whose fault is that?
This is all in especially poor taste when you consider this is a book shamelessly copying a popular existing concept from other books and comics (Hunger Games and Battle Royale), by using existing characters from other creators who all share a certain “creator-owned” connection, even though they are still Marvel’s to waste. What are these creator’s ideas and contributions to the 1st issue of the series?
Arcade is hardly the real villain in this book.
SOME CHRISTMAS CHEER BEFORE WE PART WAYS
Ah, SCARLET SPIDER #12 made me feel the joy of comics again. Nothing like a bloody beating of gang of santa robbers to finish the day! Plus, Chris Yost has (dependably) built a fascinating supporting cast around this more violent and angsty version of Peter Parker (including a gay cop and his husband, a dangerously cute romantic interest and a dark-and-mysterious teenage girl sidekick).
It sucks to be the Joker this week, getting beat up by all those chicks, losing face. Thankfully there are so many kids around to torture and make cry, from Robin to poor one-eyed-Carl and of course those pesky Marvel teenage heroes.
Let’s mow down the lot of them!
My recommended reads from the last week:
1 THE WALKING DEAD #105
2 BATMAN AND ROBIN #15
3 BATMAN #15
4 BATGIRL #15
5 GREEN LANTERN CORPS #15
6 ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN #20
7 X-TREME X-MEN #7.1
8 CHANGE #1
9 BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #16
10 DEATHSTROKE #5
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