Jeff’s May Reviews Part 2
Exiles 2: I still like the tweaks to the original concept, but I thought this issue was a little slow. Not that I want it to be wall-to-wall punchouts or anything but about half the issue is castle intrigue and cocktail party chatter, and apparently the timeline they’re in is similar to the ones some of the team came from so trying to keep all the subtly different characters and histories in my head felt like a little too much work.
Agents of Atlas 4, 5: Great stuff here, as usual. I don’t know why there are two different artists on these issues, but the Gabriel Hardman art in #4 is superior – the flashbacks especially look great (which I also credit to the coloring.) Jeff Parker’s got some nice twists on the “they meet and fight” cliche between his team and Captain America’s Avengers, and even the recap pages are clever. For those of you following “Dark Reign” there is a major development at the end of #5. One of the best Marvel books that does not have the name “Bendis” or “Brubaker” in the credits.
The Mighty 4: The first of three books in this batch that’s approaching the superhero genre from a new and different angle. It’s been building slowly, but the Superman-type character here is becoming odd and creepy enough that I’m a little surprised that DC is publishing it. Recommended.
Astro City: The Dark Age Book Three 1: Astro City is always worth waiting for, and this is as good as usual. Apparently the reason it’s slow to make is the amount of thought that goes into it, and in addition to the ongoing storyline here Kurt Busiek has put a lot of detail into just how one gets recruited and trained into a vast henchman organization.
Irredeemable 2: Covers some of the same ground as The Mighty, but much darker. Leave it to Mark Waid to find a new spin on the Superman/Lois Lane relationship, and the artwork even looks a little Curt Swan-like in the flashback segments. Excellent, and much more subtle and interesting than the first issue. Superman and/or Mark Waid fans should not miss this.
New Mutants 1: I liked this a lot more than I was expecting to. It’s fun to see the kids grown up, and I liked that they play Illyana as creepy and off-putting. I’m not sure this will have more than nostalgia appeal, and I don’t like it as much as the book it’s replacing (Young X-Men) but so far so good.
Booster Gold 20: A fill-in, as Dan Jurgens got pulled unexpectedly to do the Booster issue of Brave & Bold, but a pretty good one. Keith Giffen does a good story of a previously unknown 1950s version of Sgt. Rock’s Suicide Squat, and I always like Pat Oliffe’s artwork. Skippable in the overall Booster Gold story, but Giffen fans (especially fans of his Suicide Squad) will like it.
Secret Six 9: An odd little “Battle for the Cowl” crossover, taking place before the end of #3 (but foreshadowing it) and starring Catman, Bane and Rag Doll. Gail Simone is an evil genius, and this seems like the usual mayhem until it hits you with a great point about the nature of “heroes” and “villains”. Do not miss.
Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers 1: It probably won’t come as any surprise that I liked this, and you probably already know from the title whether you will too. It’s no Patsy Walker Hellcat, but it is fun as Lockjaw recruits allies (including a new Frog Thor) to gather the Infinity Gems. Because, um, I’m not sure why actually. It feels silly to bitch about continuity in a book like this, and I wouldn’t bother except that the creators made a huge point of it being in current continuity in all their interviews about the book. So, it’s fair game to say that there seems to be a massive screw-up here: the story is set after Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men (based on Lockheed’s dialogue), but it doesn’t acknowledge the issue of Brian Bendis’ Illuminati where the members each agree to keep one of the gems in their possession to keep them from being brought together again. Here, they’re just scattered randomly. Again, not a huge deal for a book starring a giant teleporting dog but since it was a major selling point it seems weird that they got it wrong. (Though I suppose with the Time Gem involved, they could explain it away later.)
Supergirl 41: Wow, major unexpected development here regarding Superwoman that will have interesting repercussions for both Supergirl’s Kryptonian and adopted families. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say that the “Who is Superwoman?” trade will be an essential one to get for those of you following the “New Krypton” story that way.
The Brave and the Bold 23: Sorry, I just don’t buy the characterization of Magog here. They’re pushing him too far too fast towards the “Kingdom Come” version. (Especially since we know the “Kingdom Come” timeline can’t “come true” because there was no JSA there.) In JSA, he’s been shown to be somewhat brutal but still a decent guy and not too far off from his attitude as a former US soldier. Here, he’s a bloodthirsty manic and it doesn’t work for me, especially since he’s supposed to be a descendent of FDR. Hopefully, when Keith Giffen does the ongoing Magog series his take will be a little more subtle than Dan Jurgens is here.
Gotham Gazette: Batman Alive? 1: Interesting setups here for what will presumably be the ongoing subplots in the new Batman titles. (Except for Batman & Robin, where Grant Morrison will probably be doing his own thing.) Tim says he’ll be “leaving Gotham soon”, so it seems more and more likely he’ll be starring in Red Robin no matter how much DC editors try to deny it in interviews. Nice art, reminiscent of Gotham Central and the different styles meshed so well that I was surprised to get to the end and find out it wasn’t all drawn by the same person.
Nova 25: Putting the “War of Kings” bullet on the cover is a little dubious, since it’s tangentially involved with that story as best. Still, good stuff as usual, and it feels good to (temporarily) be at the bottom of the roller coaster as the current storyline pretty much wraps up.
Amazing Spider-Man 595: I liked the beginning of this new story by Joe Kelly and Phil Jimenez a lot. From the opening Peter/Harry scene, to the stunning ground-level POV of the New York skyline with Avengers Tower in it, to the conversation with Wolverine about how to handle Norman Osborn, to the hysterical idea that Peter and JJJ may end up as brothers-in-law (which had not even occurred to me), to Jameson Sr.’s reaction to Norman and on and on. Not to be missed, either (almost) weekly or in trade.
Superman 688: Probably the oddest book to have the Superman logo on it in a long time. It reads more like an issue of James Robinson’s Starman, which is a good thing but unusual for this title. Basically Mon-El discovers his fate on Earth (surprise: he’s dying) and it’s handled very philosophically and gracefully (after 3 weird pages of him falling out of the sky and drowning) with terrific art by Renato Guedes. Worth picking up as a single issue even if the “New Krypton” stuff doesn’t interest you.
New Avengers 53: I’m getting a little impatient for the end of the “Sorcerer Supreme” stuff, but Bendis’ scripting is as good as ever and the Philip Tan art is great. Hard to believe the surprise character at the end is going to replace Dr. Strange, but we’ll see.