Comics I Read: September, Part 1

I’m just now getting caught up from being out of town for Labor Day, so I’m just going to lump all the September books (including this weeks) together and not worry about when they came out. It’s going to take a few days, so let’s get started.

The Torch 1: Toro was never the sharpest kid on the block either in the Golden Age or in “Invaders”, but here he’s been resurrected in modern times (see “Avengers/Invaders”) in a way that somehow doesn’t mess up the timeline and the first thing he does is deliver himself to his only enemy on the planet. I like the idea that the Torch is responsible for Toro’s powers, which is backed up by his 1940’s origin story, but if you want to read about their history go read “The Marvels Project” instead.

The Marvels Project 2: Speaking of which, Brubaker spends a lot of this issue on the origins of the Golden Age Angel (who I wasn’t that familiar with) and filling in the gaps between when the Human Torch escaped from his concrete prison and when he became an accepted hero. I had to look up the “Major Kerfoot” Nazi that is posing as an American professor, and apparently he’s the reason the 1950’s Cap was able to get a version of the Super Soldier serum. Nice touch.

Models Inc. 1: Wow, and I thought “Marvel Divas” was dumb. Compared to the pandering in the lead story here, “Divas” is practically a feminist tract. Even Patsy Walker can’t save this junk. The backup story featuring Tim Gunn is kind of fun, and gets his “voice” down perfectly, but it requires you to believe that the “Janet Van Dyne Memorial Wing” of the NY Fashion Museum – clever touch – would put a working Iron Man suit (weapons and all!) on display where anyone could use it.

Nomad: Girl Without a World 1: Considering the source material, I was pleasantly surprised by this. Sean McKeever does the absolute minimum exposition needed – it’s basically in the title – and fashions a nice little high school drama about an orphan girl trying to find her place in the big city. There’s the requisite Captain America and Black Widow appearances, but the story doesn’t require you know much about them. Marvel doesn’t have a lot of books that are suitable for young girls, but I think this is one of them.

Luke Cage Noir 1, 2: I haven’t liked any of the “Marvel Noir” stories I’ve read and this one is no exception – with dialogue like “That’s when it hit me like a bag of nickels: I was being set up.” – but Shawn Martinbrough’s art is stunning.

Reborn 3:  I loved all the Namor scenes (past and present) and the trip through 70’s Avengers history, but did Brubaker just change the rules on us or did I miss something? I thought the whole point of last issue was that Steve is powerless to affect events in the past, but somehow here he’s able to initiate a conversation with the Vision in the hopes he’ll remember it in the future. I’m sure Brubaker didn’t make a mistake, so somehow Steve’s lack of powerlessness is either a plot point or I just misunderstood from the beginning.

Adventure Comics 2: I love the sweet, leisurely story Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul are telling here – the near-silent Ma Kent page is heartbreaking – so it makes me sad that they’re leaving for the new “Flash” title after #6. On the other hand, I’m excited that Paul Levitz will be writing the Legion again: his issues of JSA a while back proved that he’s still got it. I hope he’ll follow up on the Lightning Lad plot that Johns started in this issue, because it’s one of those “why didn’t anyone ever think of that” ideas.

Cable 18: I try to avoid reading other reviews before I write my comments here, because sometimes those writers match my thoughts well enough that I have trouble getting their words out of my head so I can write mine. Being so far behind this time, it was kind of inevitable, so here’s a quote from Paul O'Brien's X-Axis that matches my thoughts perfectly:

“…Bishop is in possession of a nuclear device, and he's aboard the only ship in the universe where Hope might conceivably be, and the captain has even told him that Hope's on board, he's not prepared to detonate it until he has "visual confirmation." What? It's a fucking nuke! Just blow up the ship, you moron! And that's the problem with this series. The characters are quite well written; Hope's starting to emerge as a decent character; in broad strokes, the story isn't bad; but the plot just falls apart on inspection. It's an infuriating book, because I can't help feeling it's only a couple of drafts away from being good…”

This is especially true for me now that I’ve read a couple of Duane Swierczynski’s novels and I know the level of writing that he’s capable of. Fortunately, the storyline after this one is called “Homecoming” so with the end of the “fugitives” story in sight I’ll stick around and see what happens.

Brave and the Bold 27: A good start from JMS, but not great. It touches on a lot of the same themes that Will Pfeifer’s “H.E.R.O.” series did a few years back, so it didn’t feel new to me, and the lesson that Robby Reed learns at the end comes off as preachy. JMS is usually more subtle. Again, not terrible – I actually liked the Joker scenes a lot – but a little disappointing by JMS standards.

Blackest Night 3: Some random observations: Finally, we get to see what the Indigo Lanterns can do and they hint at a plot development (Hal as “White Lantern”) that many people have predicted. My theory about the Black Lanterns is basically confirmed. (Atom: “Maybe the dead aren’t wearing the rings. Maybe the rings are wearing the dead.”) I’m a little bothered by the development with the new Firestorm because I prefer him to the original, and I’d hate to see him replaced when this is over. Finally, if there was any doubt that this takes place after “Flash Rebirth” (and therefore that Barry survives) there isn’t now because Barry refers to events from the most recent “Rebirth” issue. (I’m not quoting the line here because it’s a spoiler for “Rebirth”, in case you’re waiting for the trade on that series.)

Strange Adventures 7: As one of the characters aptly says in this issue: “We have reached a whole new, until now, unimaginable level of being screwed!” I can’t wait for this to be over and for Adam Strange to be in the “R.E.B.E.L.S.” book instead, where he can interact with some more interesting characters. (I actually like the Prince Gavyn Starman and Captain Comet, but boy they’re a pair of tools here.)

Blackest Night: Batman 2: There are a lot of good Commissioner Gordon/Barbara Gordon scenes in this issue. It seems to me everybody’s secret IDs are pretty much blown by their dead parents bashing in the windshield of the Batplane with Commissioner Gordon inside, but my guess is that they’ll say he was in the back and didn’t hear. Anyway, the confrontation between Dick and his “parents” (see above) next issue should be interesting since his feelings about them are a pretty unexplored area.

More tomorrow.

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