Saturday, August 18, 2007

August in London (Part One)

Well, back in London and I bought some comics. Many, many comics. I think it’s something like 18 single issues and two trades, so I’ll be doing in this in three parts. Today, I’ll discuss the mainstream superhero stuff (minus a book or two). Tomorrow, the non-superhero stuff (although really still mainstream and some still superhero). And, Monday, I’ll give a nice long rant/review about New Avengers: Illuminati #4, which features Noh-Varr, the lead from Marvel Boy. Oh, it will be fanboyish no doubt.

But, that’s a couple of days away.

The Order #1

Some interesting ideas, some solid scenes, but lacking that certain Fraction-ness that we’ve all come to know and love. But, this is also his first straight solo superhero book, so he could be going for that more standard approach. I do enjoy how he’s taken the celebrity superhero group concept and tweaked it slightly. Unlike Milligan and Allred’s X-Force/X-Statix, the heroes in this book are doing it primarily for heroic reasons and that standard bullshit celebrity boozing it up and doing stupid things in public isn’t tolerated. We’ll have to see how it goes.

New Avengers #33

Funny thing, the other day, I was reading a column where Timothy Callahan and Douglas Wolk were discussing issue 32 and one of them (I honestly can’t remember which) pointed out that we, as readers, only know that Elektra turning out to be a Skrull is only a big deal with huge consequences because Bendis has told us. There’s no reason for us to automatically assume that there’s a big conspiracy. Thinking about it that way, Luke Cage comes off even more paranoid and insane. This is mostly a lazy issue where half of last issue is rehashed. How long are they going to go through the whole “Any of us could be Skrulls, are you a Skrull, fucking Skrull bastard I kill you!” thing before they move on?

Captain America #28-29

I liked these issues. This is a good comic book. I enjoy reading every issue.

Punisher War Journal #10

The Hate Monger story wraps up and I’m still not sure about this book. It was nice to see Frank back in his regular outfit and there are some nice moments of racist assholes getting killed, but . . . I dunno. Just isn’t clicking with me. We’ll see.

Thor #2

Wow, so nothing happens. Again. Really, Thor restores Asgard and buys the land he just does it on. And then he flies off to search for the other Asgardians. That’s all that happens. I’m giving this book until the end of the first arc to turn things around and that’s just because I’ve got a sick soft spot for Thor.

Batman #666-667

Wow, I should separate these two issues because they’re really not related, are they?

Issue 666 jumps into the future where Batman’s son, Damien, is now Batman and fighting against another Batman who also happens to be the Anti-Christ. It’s full of fun ideas, other brand new Gotham psychos and ties into what’s come before and, quite possibly, some upcoming stuff.

Issue 667 has some good writing, but the real star is J. H. Williams III and the fact that he is an amazing artist. A different style for each character, all distinct, all amazing. Can’t wait for the next two issues.

Avengers: Disassembled

Got this in trade today. Seeing how I’ve been buying New Avengers and Mighty Avengers lately, I wanted to get everything else Bendis had done with the book(s) and that meant going back to the beginning of his run.

So, this is what all the fuss was about? This was Bendis raping the Avengers? Really?

I rather enjoyed this in that “everything falling apart at the same time” sort of way. The writing itself isn’t that spectacular as the goal of ending the team takes the front seat. The Scarlet Witch thing was good, except when it’s finally explained, you’re wondering where the fuck it came from, because the issues before it gave you indication whatsoever that it was coming. It was a twist that came out of nowhere and was only revealed because Dr. Strange showed up and explained it. It reads like a deus ex machina more than anything else. The ideas are good, but the writing itself is rushed, sloppy and not that great. In the “Avengers Finale” story, I didn’t even bother reading the dialogue for the flashback splashes, because why bother, the point was showing these major moments of Avengers history, wrapping it all up.

Ultimately, this story had a job to do and it did it.

New Avengers: Breakout

And this is the result of that job. I don’t like David Finch’s art. I really don’t. It’s not that good. I don’t see the appeal.

The interesting thing about this story is that Bendis does pattern the creation of this team on the original Avengers, but he also tells us that, almost as a defensive action. A “See, I’m really tying this back into tradition!” Makes a little less cool, but still a nice way of putting the team together. I do wish we hadn’t learned the line-up of the eventual team ahead of time as at least then the creation of the team would have had a more magical element to it. But, knowing that Sentry, Wolverine and Ronin are on the team ruins it a bit. We finish this story and Ronin hasn’t even been introduced at all, but we’re expecting the character to show up. That’s lame. And Wolverine’s entrance would have worked much better if you’re not thinking “When is Wolverine going to show up?”

I don’t know what happens in the third and fourth volumes of New Avengers (but I plan to get them soon), so I don’t know where this whole “evil faction inside SHIELD” story is going necessarily, but I can see how it could provide some clues for the Skrull invasion.

However, I found most of this story boring and, like Avengers: Disassembled, more aimed at doing a specific job (building the team and setting up future plots) than telling a good story.

And that’s that. Tomorrow, the less mainstream, less superhero type books.