Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Sunday Open: Second Week of March

This week is a very Marvel-centric week. That's just the way the shipping schedule goes. Hell, the one non-Marvel comic I picked up this week actually came out last week. What's up with that, Other Comic Publishers?

Fantastic Four #555

I have no idea what the point of this comic is. I really don't. What is the goddamn plot? Why have Reed Richards's old girlfriend and her super-rich husband contacted him about this Nu-World project? What is it they need him to do? WHO KNOWS! Why, if Reed is so damn smart, did they not contact him sooner? Why do their really stupid ideas not get a "What the fuck are you talking about?" response? What is the disaster that will make the world uninhabitable within ten years? Why is Reed going to a wormhole on the other side of the universe? Since when do people meet, punch one another and then begin fucking? Why is there a giant splash of Reed's face? Why does this Alyssa girl always have her tongue sticking out? These are but a few questions this comic raises. The only way I'll pick up another issue is if it ships on another slow week where the effort of going to the shop along with the cost of bus tickets causes me to go "Aw, fuck it, I came all this way, I want more comics than this, dammit!" as happened this week.

The Mighty Avengers #10

I really enjoyed this issue. The Benday dots lost their charm quickly, as did the plugs for other Marvel books at the bottom of each page, but Bendis's Sentry made it all worthwhile with his freaking the fuck out in the past, not knowing what the hell is going on. Particularly when he sees himself fighting the Void. Bendis uses his psychological problems to his advantage really well. The solution for getting back to the present is pretty clever, using the Sentry's absence from people's memories as a way to avoid altering the past. Although, that does point out why the Sentry got sent back with Iron Man and Doom (at least from Bendis perspective). Nice little trick on his part to ensure some interesting moments and a resolution. Bagley's art is quite good here, too.

Thunderbolts #119

Issues are infrequent, but I love them when they do come out. "Everything falls apart" is a phrase overused, but really does apply here. Telepaths are fucking with everyone's mind and have set the Thunderbolts against one another. Venom is eating people, the Swordmaster is slicing them up, Norman Osborn is just fucking crazy, and Robbie Baldwin seems to actually be getting a little better with Doc Samson's help. I love the little touch of one of the telepaths being slightly obsessed with taking on Samson--which then fucks her over as he counters her probes. Plus, that showdown between Swordmaster and Venom at the end of the issue... Ellis continues to deconstruct the team and demonstrate why it was a totally retarded idea.

Wolverine #63

This issue didn't wow me as much as last. Wolverine continues his efforts to hunt down Mystique with the odd flashback to the two in the past. Some nice moments, but nothing terribly impressive. This is a good story, though, and I look forward to the last two(?) parts.

Young Liars #1

I picked this up partly because I meant to last week and didn't, and partly because of reviews I read online. The reviews were really mixed, but all seemed to suggest that this was worth looking at nonetheless. And it was. I'm not sure exactly what I think about it yet, though. The issue has both good and bad elements. I find the character of Sadie interesting as she has no impulse control and Danny's influence over her is intresting. But, honestly, not much else in the issue does anything for me. I don't find myself caring about anyone else--and even with Sadie, I don't care much, I'm more entertained. This book, though, seems very much about flawed types, rather than flawed characters. The supporting cast are all drawn very broad (and I don't meant picture drawn, just to be clear) with nothing really new or original about them. That, of course, could easily change. I'm torn on picking up the second issue. I guess we'll see what my mood is like when it comes out.

ClanDestine Classic

I picked up this hardcover collection of Alan Davis's original run on ClanDestine (and the two-issue crossover with the X-Men) while in London based purely on the first issue of the current mini-series. The quality is basically the same (although I'd argue Davis's art is better now)--so similar, actually, because the story isn't all that different. This collection has the family come together, but, mostly, not much happens. But, who cares, because the real focus is on the characters, not the plot. Davis has an amazing sense of who these people are and writes them better than a lot of writers would. It's nice to see a bit more of Pandora's character since she hasn't gotten much panel time in the current mini--one moment that's really well done is during the X-Men crossover where Rory is excited to move to the mansion and begin training and she points out that maybe she doesn't want to do everything Rory does.

Another great issue is a crossover with Spider-Man as he gives the twins a chance to be his sidekicks--if they can catch him before he catches them. It really shows off Spidey's character--that he's not much older than them and knows how to speak to them on their level--and sets up his teaching position, in a sense.

The good news is that you don't need this collection to follow the current mini-series, but these are some great issues and do provide some specific details that enrich the characters.

Punisher MAX Volume 4

The fourth hardcover collection continues on with the same direction as the previous three. Ennis continues to build on previous storylines as characters begin to bounce off of one another with the Punisher caught in the middle. His focus on his mission is evident here as he doesn't let personal feelings get in the way nor does the idea that he may die stop him. When the Russian general godes him in a very obvious manner, he tells the reader he knows it's a trap, but, fuck it, the man deserves to die and it's Castle's job to kill him. Ennis has really stripped the character down to the essential "man kills bad people" concept, eliminating anything that doesn't add to that. The second story has the widows of various members of the mafia try to kill Frank and has a woman bent on killing those women save him and give us a female Punisher... and one of the most fucked up endings to an Ennis story I've ever read. Seriously, it really bothered me... and still does. And if you've read a lot of Ennis, you'll know how big a deal that is. While I'm sad to see that Ennis is leaving the book after the current arc, I cannot wait to get the final hardcover collection so I can sit down and spend a day reading the entire MAX run. It's been a fantastic 60 or so issues.

DMZ: Friendly Fire

What impresses me most about this story is that Wood does his best to adhere to realism. You keep expecting some hidden conspiracy behind the Day 204 massacre of protestors by US soldiers, but there isn't. It really just comes down to whether or not a protestor had a gun--a fact no one will ever know for sure. This story is about Matty's struggle to find meaning and truth in a meaningless and truthless event, unable to find anyone to blame and an endless supply of people to feel sorry for (on both sides). I've been enjoying DMZ a lot, but this arc is, by far, the best work I've seen on the book so far by Brian Wood.

As always, not much to say about the things I like. I'm working on it.

This week, the standard posts. I'll be continuing my look at Joe Casey's run on The Incredible Hulk and Scott Lobdell's Wildcats (where Joe Casey scripts two issues).