Wednesday, September 26, 2012

EXCLUSIVE! Chad Nevett's Comic Book Mini-Reviews and Star Ratings for the Week of September 26, 2012

Can I fit all of this in during a break at work? Let's see...

Batman, Incorporated #0: That makes two very good zero issues, one decent zero issue, and one pretty bad zero issue for me this month. Pity poor Tim who read them all. No wonder he wants little to do with weekly comics. He gets sent those, I got sent the new Prison Pit. Somehow, I'm happy one and he's the miserable bastard. Though, now that I've said that, he'll tell me he also got sent Prison Pit and I'm not so special. [****1/4]

Fury MAX #6: Having read American Tabloid in August, I enjoyed this recent arc and now can't help but wonder: Fury vs. Pete, who wins? Discuss. [The essay portion is worth 25% of the test]

Happy! #1: From Fury to Happy... I love that. I rather enjoyed this comic. Not all what I expected -- but what were we to expect from this comic? No one really knew. So, thanks, Grant Morrison, for keeping your mouth shut during interviews. [****]

Journey into Mystery #644: The lesson of this story: everyone betrays everyone and then the world burns. FUCK. [****]

Prophet #29: Excellent use of colour (or lack of colour most of the time). Interesting visual choice and I loved the punchline at the end. I swear that this series could go on forever and tell any sort of story. [****1/4]

Secret Avengers #31: Decent, but there's only so much dread and fear that mind control stories can raise in me. I did like the Venom stuff... fuck, maybe I should go back and check that book out? No? Okay. [***]

The Ultimates #16: There's a certain thrill in seeing Captain America fly around and fix the country with hitting, while telling corrupt politicians to fuck off before threatening them into doing the 'right thing.' It's what we all want to see happen in government at some point. And it's fine given the state of Ultimate USA: fractured, corrupt, at war with itself in a dozen places... At this rate, though, he'll have the whole thing back to normal in two weeks and then what? And then what? Also, the final 'twist' wasn't really one. Apparently Thor sired David Bowie. [***1/4]

Winter Soldier #11: Weird visuals and a hell of a final page. Now that is an interesting endgame for that other Winter Soldier to be working towards. [***3/4]

Wolverine and the X-Men #17: Judging from the 'next issue' tease, the scheduled Avengers vs. X-Men tie-in issue has been pushed back to issue 18. Instead, we get a rather funny issue spotlighting Doop and his role at the Jean Grey School. Jason Aaron brings the odd and the funny, while the Allreds supply the perfect visuals. A really great issue -- one that I thoroughly enjoyed. [****1/4]

X-Men #36: As a piece, Brian Wood's brief time on X-Men has been interesting. The same idea tackled in a few different ways along with some unexpected inner team dynamics -- and the Storm/Cyclops stuff has been fantastic. I think it ends next issue, right? I'll miss it. Not every issue lands, but every issue contribute to the whole and that's where this run shined. [***1/2]


Friday, September 21, 2012

Riding the Gravy Train 24 (Avengers #30)

I have only a limited amout of control over what these posts will be like. That's a counterintuitive thing to write, but it's also fairly obvious. After all, I'm not 'choosing' what to write about each week (beyond choosing to continue this series of posts). That's determined by Marvel's release schedule -- and, then, by the people involved in actually making the comics. Last week, there was a wealth of material to explore and an approach that I could latch onto with ease. "Scott Summers is the hero of Avengers vs. X-Men!" Just say the opposite of what is generally believed and, boom, instant material. Helped by the four comics released last week, specifically Avengers vs. X-Men #11. This week, the Avengers vs. X-Men comic released is Avengers #30 and it takes place after the event is over. How am I to write about the event then? This is an issue where Spider-Woman spends much of it acting as a means for Brian Michael Bendis to convince you that he's an awful writer before she turns around and acts as his in-story critique of that sort of portrayal of women... for no real reason. You could lose the first half and probably have a stronger comic. In the end, it's a comic that's not terribly good or memorable or worthwhile, even when taken out of the context of Avengers vs. X-Men and placed back in the context of Bendis's Avengers work. Were I reviewing it for a site like Comic Book Resources, I would probably spend 500 words saying those things in, possibly, nicer ways, but not too many people would read those words, because the one-and-a-half- or two-star rating would be enough.

But, here we are and I guess I should try to get something out of this comic...

I'm a little fascinated by the fact that both New Avengers #30 and Avengers #30 seem to take place after the end of Avengers vs. X-Men and... things are fine. We all expect that to be the case, but it's more than that. Things aren't just fine, they're almost 'normal.' You could put either issue in a different place in Marvel's history and not much would change. You'd need to rework some of the specifics in New Avengers #30, sure, but the basic idea of that issue was, after a big superhero to-do, Luke Cage struggles with what it means to be a husband and father while also being a superhero, and joins some other Avengers in fighting some bad guys before quitting the team. Take out Emma Frost and the fact that the bad guys hate mutants and... nothing that matters would change. The same thing applies in this issue, except in an even bigger way. You literally just need to take out the opening double-page spread and I'm not sure there's a specific Avengers vs. X-Men reference in the comic.

This is the event that Matters (capital M, of course) and Will Change Everything Forever (for now) and, before it's over, we're being treated to comics that demonstrate just how much it doesn't matter. At all. It's just another crisis -- another big event. Another giant threat to the planet that the heroes have to stop. The specifics don't matter. Phoenix? Might as well be Thanos or the Beyonder or Norman Osborn or an act of congress or the Scarlet Witch or Apocalypse or Kang or Ultron or Dr. Doom or the Skrulls or the Kree or the Kree and the Skrulls or Galactus or anything else. Because it doesn't matter.

Do you know the sort of balls it takes to put out comics that send that message before the event is even over? Avengers vs. X-Men #12 comes out in 12 days and Brian Michael Bendis has already moved on. Marvel clearly has with its promotion of Marvel NOW!

That's the reality that we all know when it comes to event comics. No one really thinks that this is the end-all, be-all of the shared superhero universe we are dropping in on. Next month, Avengers and X-Men comics will come out. And the month after that and after that and after that and after that... We know that. Marvel knows that. The creators know that. And we all know that everyone else knows it, too. But, I guess what I'm struggling with is this:

Do they have to be so obvious about it? Can we not at least pretend that this matters until it's done? Do they really not have the stamina to keep up the bullshit through to the end?

Tony Stark has the answer to all of those questions and more: "I'm zonked. [...] Can't SHIELD take care of it? [...] Ugh... Avengers Assemble."

Next week: Wolverine and the X-Men #17. (In the solicitations and house ads, this is listed as an Avengers vs. X-Men comic, but it doesn't have the 'AVX' code on the Diamond list like every other Avengers vs. X-Men book so far. So, we'll see if it's actually an applicable comic or not when it ships on Wednesday. If it is, great. If not... well, I guess I'll have to do something quick thinking, eh?)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

EXCLUSIVE! Chad Nevett's Comic Book Mini-Reviews and Star Ratings for the Week of September 19, 2012

Daredevil #18: It won't end this way, but there's part of me that wants to see the conclusion to this story be that Matt has gone insane finally. Just fucking lost touch with reality. There are many reasons why that won't happen, but it would be fitting. What are the odds that the cause of Matt's problems also caused the death of the gangster guy? [***1/2]

Godzilla: The Half-Century War #2: This issue had a little more meat on it than the first. The backdrop of Vietnam, for what little the comic did to address that conflict, allowed for the American presence to bring something to this issue. It's also helped by the main characters knowing what they're doing to an extent. Stokoe's art continues to wow. Great settings and his Godzilla is fierce. [***3/4]

The Mighty Thor #20: The way Loki brings down Volstagg is masterful and we see him already pushing towards his turn back to the good side. A more low key issue than last week's installment. An adjusting issue as we prepare for the big push to the end. But, Alan Davis, motherfuckers! [***3/4]

Spider-Men #5: There are two types of people in the world (for the purpose of this post): people who find the whole "And, most of all, I have to tell you that--" tease cute and those that don't. I do not. But, hey, it beats actually having to say something then, eh? I did like the final page and am curious what that will lead to. [***1/4]

The Ultimates #15: Americans would vote Ultimate Captain America President, too. [**1/4]

Untold Tales of the Punisher MAX #4: That twist was easy to spot (immediately) and this issue didn't offer much else. An empty exercise. That's all this was. [**]

The Unwritten #41: At what point does a supporting character get to be pissed off that they're a supporting character? After all, Savoy's actions put him in this place -- he chose it. He chose to be Tom Taylor's sidekick, so is it fair for him to turn on Tom here? Fair to blame Tom for what he is and what Tom is? Tom has a strong influence, yes, but it's unintentional. His reaction is so hateful in many ways... and futile. We know that he won't become the protagonist of this story now. The sooner he accepts that... [****]

Wonder Woman #0: Excellent issue. Nice to see War take a central role here after he's mostly stayed off the sides in the present (perhaps in part because of what we see here). Interesting that Azzarello only refers to the character as 'War,' too. I haven't checked thoroughly, but his proper Greek pantheon name isn't used, I don't think. Cliff Chiang's art is simple and clear, but conveys a stunning amount of emotion. A light tone on the surface from both the writing and art that makes the darker, deeper stuff below the surface hit harder. [****1/4]


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Riding the Gravy Train 23 (Avengers vs. X-Men #11, New Avengers #30, Uncanny X-Men #18, and Wolverine and the X-Men #16)

Scott Summers is the last sane man. The last true believer. It's all a matter of perspective. He's touched the hand of god and had his faith rewarded with more power than he ever imagined. He can remake the world, he can save his race... and all he sees are the weak, the tempted, the jealous, wrongheaded, so-called heroes that see it as their mission to preserve the status quo, to maintain the rule of humanity, to wallow in endless conflict, death, and misery. He sees his 'father' proclaim his love for everything and everyone before deciding that the ability to make that love manifest is 'too big' and 'shames' him. And it's understandable why they would suspect those with the power of the Phoenix, because the others were corrupt and brought low by the power. It was too much for them. Not for Scott Summers, though. He was never corrupted. He stayed the course, maintained the path... no matter what. The rest embraced the destructive side of the Phoenix in the most cliched and obvious ways. They sought to destroy things literally. Scott simply seeks to destroy the ideas and practices that drove his people so close to extinction. He's greeted by betrayal and scorn. So were all true saviours and prophets. So were all who could truly change the world for the better. The test of Scott's faith is remarkable and he never strays. His focus is always on a specific endpoint and it's only when everyone abandons him that he truly looks like the bad guy, the villain. But, of course, he's not. He's the saviour of mutantkind, of the entire planet. The man driven to do so much good, surrounded by such weak and fallen individuals, that he can't help but appear evil. His actions are defensive until he cannot simply react anymore. Beaten down and persecuted, he did what any true hero does: he musters his strength, redoubles his effort, and overcomes the odds. You see Dark Phoenix, I see Scott Summers, the mutant son of god refusing to be sacrificed for the sins of the world.


That perspective on Avengers vs. X-Men #11 is part exercise in amusing myself and part a reading of the comic that makes far more sense to me than it probably should. Honestly, I've yet to see Scott doing anything villainous or corrupt. He's insane, no doubt -- a true zealot. But, that zealotry has also kept him from succumbing to the same flaws as the others. In Avengers vs. X-Men #11, he doesn't do anything 'bad' until he's pushed so far that it seems justified to take the remaining Phoenix power from someone who has admitted to corruption (Uncanny X-Men #18 lays it out quite a bit) and lash out at someone trying to literally shut down his brain. I don't know... he seems like the hero of the story at this point to me somehow.


The death of Professor Xavier is done in a pisspoor fashion. It's not clear that he's dead. Emma looks worse off than Xavier. Had there not been a newspaper story about Xavier's death, I don't think many would have assumed he's dead. It's like someone at Marvel read this issue and went "Oh shit... we better spoil this so people actually understand that it happened!"


New Avengers #30 isn't a great issue, but the Luke Cage stuff is fantastic work by Brian Michael Bendis. Another step in this large story he's told with this character where he's grown so much. His internal conflict during Avengers vs. X-Men has mostly sat under the surface -- introduced at the beginning and resolved here. It's basically the endpoint that most superheroes would face: giving it up for his family. It's the place where Spider-Man ends. Where you realise that "With great power comes great responsibility" applies to more than superpowers. It applies to the choices you make, the relationships you foster, and the power you have to create life and the responsibility that comes with it. I won't be surprised if Bendis has Luke Cage 'rejoin' the Avengers in his final stories in those books, but I hope he doesn't.


We're almost at the end of this story and I'm not exactly expecting a lot from the final issue of Avengers vs. X-Men based on issue 11. The fall of Scott Summers no doubt. The continued depiction of heroes as thugs. Tonight, I saw Captured Ghosts, the Sequart documentary on Warren Ellis (and enjoyed it quite a bit) and, when they got to talking about The Authority, I realised just how much damage Ellis's tenure on that comic has done to superhero comics (through no fault of his own). He spoke of how the Authority was a team made up of bad people who just happened to be fighting against worse people. They seemed like the heroes because they were the lesser of two evils. They still killed large numbers of people, destroyed cities, and did awful things.

And they became the new standard for superheroes.

My biggest problem with Avengers vs. X-Men is how awful these characters all come off. How quick they are to use violence, how quick they are to sink to the lowest forms of paranoia and hatred and idiocy when confronted by a friend who has a different opinion. I mean, come on, there shouldn't even be a story here! Captain America should have arrived at Utopia, explained his reservations about Hope and the Phoenix, and Cyclops should have listened and said, "Well, how about we take Hope into space to meet the Phoenix before it reaches Earth in case something goes wrong? And, if something does, then the combined Avengers and X-Men will be there to stop it before the planet is placed in danger." And then the heroes go do the logical thing that any child over the age of six could have thought of. And that's a story with potential for drama and adventure and excitement that doesn't make the 'heroes' look like fucking assholes. Because they have to simply hit things until they don't move.


Scott Summers is an evil motherfucker. But he still seems like the most sane one of the bunch right now to me. And that's fucked.

Next week: Avengers #30.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Riding the Gravy Train 1964 (The X-Men #9)

This is the original "Avengers vs. X-Men." The one that sets the tone for every meeting the two teams would have from that point on. It's basically the first rosters of each team pitted against one another in a battle to the death as the fate of Earth hangs in the balance! It's the original five X-Men (Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Angel, and Iceman) against the second (third?) iteration of the Avengers (Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Giant-Man, and the Wasp), all because Professor X demands it!

The fight is actually a quaint affair, like most superhero vs. superhero fights of the era. Both teams are trying to stop Lucifer from his evil schemes, but, when Professor X learns that Lucifer has connected a bomb to his heart, he has the X-Men pick a fight with the Avengers to delay their interference. The two teams weren't even going to fight at first (aside from Iron Man -- he wanted to beat up some punk teenagers). It's a far cry from the subsequent relationships we've seen -- and the two teams hadn't even met before! That's a little backwards, don't you think? Here, they meet for the first time, and their first impulses aren't to attack one another, but, later, after they've worked together dozens of times, any sort of disagreement immediately causes violence? Have superheroes somehow devolved over the years? We like to think of them as unchanging, yet there's clearly a more civilised tone to the behaviour of both groups here. When they cease fighting at Xavier's command, the Avengers sort of shrug, concede jurisdiction to the X-Men, and walk away back to their own comic, concerned more about who is the chairman this week than the danger facing the world.

The two teams don't fight for a sustained period of time; just long enough to compliment one another on their fighting ability and get in a few other quips. The best part is when Iceman encases himself in a giant block of ice as a defence against Thor. That, and Beast catching Captain America's shield with his feet before using his body as a projectile against Iron Man. It's like his performance here (the only stand-out of the team) sets ups his eventual Avengers membership. You can just see the Avengers walking away laughing about Iceman hiding in a block of ice or Cyclops's lack of certainty, and adding at the end, "Yeah, but that fella with big feet was pretty good..."

Besides the larger sense of civility, the lack of a larger philosophical motive for the fight stands out as a difference from the other Avengers/X-Men fights we've seen. There's a difference of perspective with the X-Men knowing more about the situation than the Avengers, but the basic goal is the same for both teams: stop Lucifer. There's no issue of mutant rights, no weight of the world on the shoulders of the X-Men, or anything there except being a superhero team. That's not meant to position this as 'better' than what we've seen in the decades following. It reminds me of the line X-Men: Schism where Idie looks at a picture of the original X-Men and wonders why they're smiling. It's very much a case of things being simpler 'back in the day,' and this will not doubt come up again post-Avengers vs. X-Men in All-New X-Men when the original X-Men are brought to the present. Putting this comic next to Avengers vs. X-Men is like a sneak preview of the culture shock.  After all, this is the team that stands behind Professor X as he says "Because we X-Men are pledged never to cause injury to a human being -- no matter what the provocation!"

How will those X-Men cope with the future we've seen? Hell, how would the Avengers shown in The X-Men #9? (All of which leads to how would Stan Lee and Jack Kirby of 1964 view the Marvel output of 2012, I guess...) 'Quaint' is the word I used to describe the encounter between the two teams in this issue, but it was also refreshing to see both teams focused on a singular goal. Is that also what post-Avengers vs. X-Men will be? Is The X-Men #9 a vision of our future in a sense?

Next week: Avengers vs. X-Men #11, New Avengers #30, Uncanny X-Men #18, and Wolverine and the X-Men #16.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Riding the Gravy Train 1987 (The X-Men vs. the Avengers #1-4)

This Gravy Train has been chuggin' along for 25 years, folks...

The plot of The X-Men vs. the Avengers: Asteroid M, thought destroyed, is actually still in existence, is breaking up, and bombarding the Earth. The Avengers destroy most of the big chunks, but a couple land and they are charged with arresting Magneto to face charges in the World Court. At the same time, the Soviet Super-Soldiers go after Magneto so he can be arrested for sinking a Soviet sub previously. The X-Men don't like any of this and defend Magneto. Magneto, meanwhile, has tracked down a core of Asteroid M, reclaimed his old helmet and seems to have some sort of secret plan. It turns out that his plan is to use his mind-control circuitry to remove all prejudice from humanity. He abandons that plan after wiping all prejudice from Captain America's mind and it not affecting Cap's desire to arrest him, and turns himself in. At his trial, it seems stacked against him to start a mutant/humanity war after he's found guilty, so he uses his prejudice-removing helmet on one of the judges, is found innocent by reasons of being a sovereign power engaged in a state of war at the time of his crimes, and is shocked when that pisses off humans. The lesson: Magneto constantly assumes things and that makes an ass out of him and everyone.

It's actually not a bad read. I was expecting the final issue to be a trainwreck, because original writer Roger Stern's plot was thrown out, and the book was co-plotted by Tom DeFalco and Jim Shooter with DeFalco handling the scripting duties. Usually, in cases like that, the final product is a massive swing away from the story to date. Instead, that final issue offers something approximately some interesting writing on the mutant/human dynamic. Magneto shocked that Captain America is not motivated by racism is a pretty good scene, while the final image of Magneto realising that he continues to make things worse for mutant/human relations is a strong conclusion.

Funny thing about The X-Men vs. the Avengers and its relationship to Avengers vs. X-Men: the X-Men were wrong then, too. In the fight between the two teams, the X-Men were on the wrong side, both morally and legally, under the argument that mutant rights trump every other concern. Instead of the religious-driven Cyclops leading the charge against the Avengers as the X-Men put all of their faith in a cosmic fire bird that will save their race once it possesses a teenage girl, the X-Men are simply standing up for their teammate Magneto and his right to never face any sort of punishment for his criminal past.

The lack of change in 25 years is remarkable, because we all like to think that the characters are different now, don't we? I know Marvel wants us to believe that the characters and their world have changed over the past decade, especially. Yet, 25 years ago, we had the X-Men and the Avengers fighting with the same central argument: the Avengers, acting as representatives of the world, go to the X-Men and want to take one of their members away for objectively legitimate reasons, the X-Men get pissed because mutants stick together no matter what, the two teams fight, and, eventually, the X-Men realise that they were wrong and human/mutant relations are worse for it (okay, I'm assuming that last point as the end result of Avengers vs. X-Men). The details are different and so is the scale, but it's the same essential conflict. Does that mean that Avengers vs. X-Men is actually an homage series to honour the 25th anniversary of The X-Men vs. the Avengers?

If the X-Men have been the same for so long and, in both cases, they're in the wrong, I guess what I'm wondering is if the X-Men are actually heroes. Are they good guys? Or are they simply activists? An organisation dedicated to a single cause, all morality and legality suspended until said cause is reached? After all, here, they jump to defend Magneto from facing legitimate charges of mass murder -- and he used to try to kill them every other week. In Avengers vs. X-Men, they all join forces because they think the Phoenix will rescue the mutant race from extinction based on no evidence, fighting their friends in the process, and ignoring massive ideological differences that exist within the mutant community. These are heroes?

I expected The X-Men vs. the Avengers to be something I could hold up as a contrast to Avengers vs. X-Men. Something where I could show how far the X-Men have fallen over the past 25 years and, yet, they haven't really changed much. No discussion, no morality above genetics, and no option other than violence. That leap to violence is what sticks with me the most, both here and in Avengers vs. X-Men. As I've said before, this isn't some faceless group of humans whose motives are suspect -- this is the Avengers! The X-Men have stood beside the Avengers how many times? The Avengers have shown themselves to be honourable and not prejudiced against mutants how many times? It's not that the X-Men can't disagree, can't point out that their concerns are different -- it's that their response is always a punch in the face. The Avengers aren't much better in that respect, granted, but, in both cases, it's an X-Man who uses violence first.

Whether a regular 'superhero team' that's part of a thriving race or a near-extinct race living on an island it rules, they act the same.  Is there anything more to the X-Men? Can there ever be? The central concept is that they are a minority in a world that fears and hates them. They will always respond like this and that's troublesome. In some respects, I like that. I like that the X-Men aren't cookie-cutter good guys, that they will act against the law and conventional superhero morality when they think that it's the right thing. But, when their version of 'the right thing' is always the exact same thing and flies in the face of logic and reason, it's substituting one set of rigid morality for another. It's not something you notice as much until they're put up against another set of heroes and the X-Men look like the racists, because they can't see past the human/mutant divide. Any other time, it's against obvious anti-mutant racists or other human strawmen that serve to showcase the righteousness of the X-Men's cause. Against the Avengers, they're just a bunch of extremists with their heads up their asses.

Maybe that's all the X-Men are... Maybe that's all they ever will be...

Next week: Avengers vs. X-Men #11, New Avengers #30, Uncanny X-Men #18, and Wolverine and the X-Men #16.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

EXCLUSIVE! Chad Nevett's Comic Book Mini-Reviews and Star Ratings for the Week of September 5, 2012

It's been many weeks since I've last read comics outside of a context involving Avengers vs. X-Men. Usually, the comics for that event are what I read first (the first Wednesday of the month is an exception as nothing gets between me and the newest issue of The Boys). It didn't change much, really. Why would it?

Action Comics #0: The most frustrating thing about Grant Morrison's Action Comics is that this early Superman/Clark Kent is leagues more interesting than the Superman/Clark Kent we're used to seeing and Morrison is continually moving away from the former, running towards the latter. It's hard to come to grips with sometimes. I appreciated a chance to see the character at an earlier point than before. A chance to be reminded that, yeah, a young, driven Superman who spends his off time geeking out with Jimmy Olsen and trying to prove he's worth a damn is far superior to the Superman we usually get. [****]

Age of Apocalypse #7: I still don't know anyone's name in relation to their image. Nor their personality. Except for maybe Graydon Creed as he descends into drunken failure. Yet, I don't mind. I enjoy Arlem's art. It suits the tone set by del Torre. Lapham continues to wander through this world with characters that mean nothing and display motives that I'm not sure we're supposed to be rooting for. They fight against the future. They will (and should) lose. [***1/4]

Black Kiss 2 #2: You can't fight customs. I know that from my dayjob. They are all-powerful and answerable to no one. Whenever I forget that, they make a decision that flies in the face of all logic and prior experience simply because they can. I'm not angry or upset, because that's like being upset at the rain. Customs is and that's all there is to it. Bitching and whining is lying about the world. [Dude, pick me up the rest of the series. Yes, you. You may be wondering if I'm addressing you and I am. Really. BUY THEM ALL FOR ME AND THEN MAIL THEM TO ME.]

The Boys #70: The difference between Garth Ennis and everyone else: when he explains a mystery that requires no explanation, he still makes it damn entertaining. "Ain't there s'posed to be?" is the punchline of the year. [****]

The Defenders #10: Matt Fraction Week Part One: The Silver Surfer pages... my god, McKelvie! [***3/4]

Hawkeye #2: Matt Fraction Week Part Two: David Aja and Matt Hollingsworth win. They had stiff competition from the likes of Amanda Conner and Paul Mounts, Russ Braun and Tony Avina, and Alan Davis, Mark Farmer, and either Javier Rodriguez or Chris Sotomayor. But, they won the week. Easily. I dug this issue more than the first. Fraction's dialogue lends a little too flip in places, though. I loved the white explanation panels. [****]

Hell Yeah #5: I guess the problem here is that this book isn't really about anything yet. It hints at being about things, but it isn't actually about anything. It dances around the point, getting in close before pulling away and running across the room. And that's fine. I just keep wanting more. Something to latch onto. It's not even "Answers that raise more questions," it's "Vague statements provided in response to questions that just sort of get on your nerves after a while." Maybe it's my fault for thinking there's more. Maybe this is all there is. What to do what to do what to do what to do what to do blah blah blah. [***]

The Mighty Thor #19: Matt Fraction Week Part Three: That final page is meant to mean something, but, without context (and damn good context), it's just a weak cliffhanger in my house. The stuff with the Vanir isn't quite working for me, because it came out of nowhere. At no time in either of these titles' currents runs have those people been mentioned. So, to suddenly have a big part of this revolve around the tension between the Aesir and the Vanir feels false and convenient. But... Alan Davis draws a pretty book and the stuff with Thor and Loki continues to win me over.