Comics I Read: September, Part 2

Got sidetracked by not feeling well for a few days, but let’s try again…

Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant-Size: I’m not sure if I just lost interest because of the delay or what, but I actually kind of hated this. It doesn’t have any of the clever future-Marvel stuff from the previous chapters – it’s just a straight revenge story. It’s disgusting (Bruce & his cousin), violent (page after page of Logan covered in blood: “I’m just here to kill you people”) and repetitive (Millar’s already done the “Hulk eats people” bit in “Ultimates”). I actually went over to Amazon and cancelled my pre-order for the collection.

Spider-Woman 1: Now that this is out in print, we can compare and contrast with the motion comic. This issue covers approximately the same ground as the first motion episode, which means the motion comic story is way ahead of the print version. (I wonder how they’ll deal with that at crossover time.) The motion comic has its merits, mainly the excellent voice acting, but for now I prefer the print version. The content is pretty much the same, except for two-page origin recap, but the pacing works better for me: There’s a chilling sequence of Jessica contemplating suicide at the beginning that went right past me in the animation, and the exposition from Agent Brand of SWORD went on pretty long when it all had to be spoken but it reads pretty fast. Plus you can stare at Alex Maleev’s beautiful art for as long as you want. Bendis delivers a great story as usual, but that’s a bonus as this is one of the rare books worth buying just for the art.

Exiles 6: Jeff Parker not only wraps up this short-lived version of the team, but also explains all the “secrets” of the previous versions. It’s a nice gift for anyone who has followed all 125 or so issues of this, with the premise laid out in impressive (bordering on obsessive) detail. It was a little much for me, even though I usually like this sort of thing, but I imagine long-time fans will be thrilled. (Except for the part about being cancelled, of course.) The idea about the concept itself being self-modifying was brilliant, and I also liked the twist at the end about the identity of one of the team members that could someday lead to another interesting story.

JSA vs. Kobra: Engines of Faith 4: I liked a lot about this issue, especially that Mr. Terrific is starting to catch on to Kobra’s tactics (although it was obvious to the reader in #2) and that he sets out to educate himself about magic. On the other hand, I don’t think they shouldn’t have gone into the Shazam mythos so soon after it was all wrapped up in JSA. This doesn’t directly contradict anything from that story, but it feels like someone didn’t get the memo about leaving those concepts alone until whatever the plans for them are play out.

Superman: Secret Origin 1: Clearly, I’m precisely the target audience for this book so it won’t surprise you that I loved it. Since we’re learning a lot about Krypton in the contemporary books, Geoff Johns decides instead to focus on Clark’s highschool period which has pretty much been unmined since the original Crisis. (Even Mark Waid’s “Birthright” takes place mostly after Clark graduates, if I remember correctly.) Specifically, this issue covers the period just before and after Clark discovers he’s an alien. Gary Frank’s gift for character “acting” carries the most emotional moments without needing words, and the ending shows something we haven’t seen in a very long time. (I won’t give it away except to say that it’s been hinted at as far back as Brad Meltzer’s JLA #0.)

Daring Mystery Comics 70th Anniversary Special: Mystery writer David Liss takes on the origin story and first adventure of the Phantom Reporter, a Golden Age hero that everyone had forgotten about until JMS revived him for “The Twelve” (and then promptly forgot about him again, but that’s a rant for another day.) It’s not bad, but it doesn’t leave me wanting to seek out Liss’ novels yet. The coloring is pretty strange – it’s looks as if it was colored by someone who thought that purple and orange were primary colors. There are some layouts and pencils from artist Jason Armstrong included, and I prefer them to the printed work. (There’s no inker credited and Val Staples is credited for “Color Art”, whatever that means.) The Golden Age reprint is amusing because except for his mask the Reporter is dressed exactly the same, including a bright red cape, in his civilian and secret identities.

Mystic Comics 70th Anniversary Special: Sometimes David Lapham, who wrote and drew this, is brilliant but this isn’t one of those times. The lead story is a pretty generic Marvel horror story starring the original Vision (who has an oddly similar origin to the Martian Manhunter). The art is nice, but the plot is completely predictable. The GA reprints are painful as usual, but at least they have early Jack Kirby art which is always fun to look at.

Doom Patrol 2: Somehow it completely went over my head in the first issue that the priest/counselor is “Rocky” Davis of “Challengers of the Unknown” and Brad Meltzer’s “Last Will and Testament” fame. This makes me happy. (The character, not my oversight.) Anyway, I liked this issue a lot better and this interview with Keith Giffen made me feel a lot better about his plans for the book so I’m on board at least through the “Blackest Night” crossover. (I still don’t think the “Metal Men” backup is funny, though.)

Vengeance of the Moon Knight 1: He’s back, and apparently trying to clean up his act. I think that’s a good idea for the character – otherwise he’s basically the Punisher – but it’s too early to tell whether it’ll work beyond this flashy debut. The art by Jerome Opeña favorably reminds me of the Bill Sienkiewicz days (which you can see here in the reprint of #1 they included to justify the cover price), but I was disappointed that writer Gregg Hurwitz resorted to the (admittedly recent) cliche of having the Sentry show up at the end.

Superman/Batman 64: I was planning to avoid this book after last issue, but I figured I couldn’t go wrong with Joe Kelly and Scott Kolins. The story, featuring an ancient Kryptonian derelict ship, is interesting and I prefer Kolins’ tighter style here to the style he’s using in “Solomon Grundy”. (His Superman here reminds me a lot of how Keith Giffen used to draw him back in the 80’s, which I always liked.) However, for a book that’s been obsessively showing us how relevant to continuity it is lately – to the point of “explaining” how some of the previous stories weren’t “real” – it’s odd that this story leans heavily on how Superman feels being the last Kryptonian when all the current Superman books are about how he isn’t. (There is one caption placing the story “some time ago”, but make up your mind DC.)

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