Monday, September 13, 2010

Comics I Read: Theme-free edition

I’m going to be discussing only complete storylines here from now on, or at least large blocks of issues, now that almost everyone is either reading only trades or receiving mail-ordered issues on a delay. I’m considering briefly reviewing issues on my Twitter feed as I read them, so please follow jmetzner there if you’re interested in that.


Amazing Spider-Man 635-637 “Grim Hunt”, parts 2-4: Any conclusion to a year-long storyline is bound to not quite live up to the anticipation, but Joe Kelly gets pretty close. It’s creepy and terrifying, and the ending works well for both Peter’s “family” and Kraven’s.


Amazing Spider-Man 638-641 “One Moment In Time”: Speaking of anticipation, here’s the story with all the answers about the “Brand New Day” changes, from what Mary Jane said to Mephisto, to what happened on Peter & MJ’s wedding day, to how Spidey’s secret identity was erased from the world. By it’s nature, this kind of story has to be somewhat fussy and contrived in places to answer all the questions, but it needed to be done and I think it was gutsy and smart of Joe Quesada to write this himself. The emotional framing sequence of Peter & MJ in the present day is the part that worked best for me. I’ve seen some complaints online that Paolo Rivera’s characters were too “off model” in these pages, but I thought he “acted” the characters well. The explanation for what happened the day of the wedding is a little mundane, but using the pages from the original annual and filling in the gaps with new pages was clever. In the flashbacks, I most liked seeing the way events after “Civil War” played out a little differently. I didn’t need to know the mechanics of how Spidey’s identity was erased in as much detail as given, but I liked who did it and why. Overall, not everyone’s going to be happy with this -- best to avoid it if the whole “One More Day” idea still makes you apoplectic -- but I was satisfied and I like the place Peter and MJ are left in at story’s end.


Teen Titans 84-86: This went way downhill after the Static arc. I would avoid anything between those issues and the upcoming start of the new creative team of J.T. Krul and Nicola Scott. I would have dropped the book by now, but Nicola Scott is brilliant and I’ll buy anything with her work in it. Current writer Felicia D. Henderson is moving on to a new “Static” ongoing, which hopefully will be good because I did enjoy the arc where she focused on him in this book. (And Static co-creator Dwayne McDuffie says he has confidence in her.)

Wonder Woman 600-602: I have mixed feelings about the new direction. I adored Gail Simone’s run, and her story with George Pérez in #600 is a beautiful and moving coda to her run, to the Pérez era and to a certain stage of life. The issue is also filled with gorgeous pinups of Diana in her “classic” outfit by some terrific artists, including the aforementioned Nicola Scott, showing there’s still life in that portrayal. On the other hand, they do have to sell the book and JMS, whose work I also love, gets attention. His story is intriguing so far, and the new costume looks much better with the jacket off as seen for the first time in #602. But I’m not adjusted yet: It doesn’t feel like Wonder Woman to me yet. I’m on board for the long haul, and I think the new direction is well worth your time, but I haven’t quite gotten over my feelings for the previous run.


Secret Avengers 1-4: Awesome to have Brubaker writing Steve Rogers again, and he plays him to the hilt here especially in #4 where the scene on the cover actually occurs. The mix of characters is good and so are their reasons for being on the team, and I loved that the scope of the story went beyond Earth with some ties to classic Avengers history.

Red Robin 13-16: Fabian Nicieza follows up very well on Chris Yost's run (which I loved). I like what we've seen of Tim's plan, and Nicieza writes Damian so well I almost wish the book was "Robin" instead of "Red Robin". (Tim: "He drains my optimism.") I also liked Tim's solution to Vicki Vale's suspicions from "Battle for the Cowl" and "Gotham Gazette", and I missed Anarky so I'm glad to see him back (even though it's not the original one) and I love his new motivation. Anarky's arrival, fittingly enough, totally messes with Tim's careful planning. (Tim: "...at the end of the day I have to accept that I can control everything...except the things I can't control...") Marcus To's art suits the book perfectly.

Punisher/Franken-Castle 12-20: I'm sure the purists are up in arms about Rick Remender's conversion of Frank Castle into a Frankenstein-like monster, but I've actually really enjoyed it. (The purists have the MAX series if they want straight crime stories.) It's well written -- I defy you not to be moved by the Moloid scene in #12, for instance, for which kudos also must go to Tony Moore's art -- and true to the character, which I know sounds strange but trust me. There's even some evolution in his character, as shown in the scene with Henry at the beginning of #17 (this time by artist Roland Boschi.) The rematch with Daken in the "Dark Wolverine" crossover issues is also well done, if a bit unsatisfying. What somewhat ruins this arc for me, oddly enough, is how short it will be. Frank's already back to normal in Shadowland and Remender is on record that this run ends with #21. Going "hey he's OK again" so soon, even though there's an explanation involving a classic Marvel artifact, makes the whole thing seem like kind of a lark when I was taking it seriously and would have liked to see it explored for at least a couple of years. That said, I still recommend this when it all comes out under one cover in December.

That's all I have time for today. More later in the week.

1 comment:

  1. Rick Remender's Punisher run was pretty much the online time I have ever cared about the Punisher, ever. (And that's not just because of Franken-Castle--I was loving it from when it launched during Dark Reign.) Highly, highly recommended to anyone who may be considering it.

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