Comics I Read: End of 2010 Lightning Round

Generally, even though I don't consider what I do here proper "reviews", I do go back through the issues to remind myself of details and to pull out a scene or a quote to reference. But I'll never get through all the books I haven't had time to write about if I do that, so I'm just going to go through the pile and give whatever impressions I remember. If there's anything you'd like me to go into in more depth, let me know in the comments and I'll try to go back to it.

Action Comics 890-896: Paul Cornell's doing a great job with Luthor, and Pete Woods' art is great as usual. The slight tweak to Lex's character after "Blackest Night" makes him a little vulnerable, and therefore more interesting, and I like the hints that higher powers are interested in what he's up to. The Death appearance in #894 was great, and if Cornell didn't get dialog help from Gail Simone for the Secret Six crossover in #896 then he managed to get those characters voices spot on.

Adventure Comics 516-521: I didn't love the "early years" story in #516-520, but I may change my mind after I go back to my Legion Archives HC and reread the original stories it's based on. I thought the choice of new Green Lantern in #521 was inspired, even though it's going to cause Levitz story problems down the road in Legion. Looking forward to the Phil Jimenez "Legion Academy" feature taking over this book soon.

Amazing Spider-Man 642-650: Mark Waid does a great job tying up the Osborn baby plotlines in "Origin of the Species", and the whole "Brand New Day" team does a great job bringing that era to a close (including a couple of surprising twists from supporting characters) in #647. I like Dan Slott's "Big Time" and the different things he's trying (new job for Peter, multiple costumes, etc.) so far. I have two quibbles: (1) There seem to have been no consequences to how badly The Chameleon disguised as Peter treated Flash Thompson ("Who's the puny one now?"). As far as I know, nobody knows that Peter wasn't responsible for what happened during that time so why isn't Flash pissed? (2) I hope we get some more backstory on the new Hobgoblin because his change of heart just seems arbitrary at this point.


Ant-Man & Wasp 1-2: I've heard of Tim Seeley, but I'm not that familiar with his work -- I'm aware of "Hack/Slash" but it doesn't sound like something that would interest me -- so I was pleasantly surprised to see that he seems to have the same affection for these characters that I do. I also love that he's a writer/artist, something you don't see that much at Marvel & DC anymore. Highlights include the summary of Hank's history at the beginning of #1 and the recap page in #2. As well as getting Hank right, he also makes Eric O'Grady enough of a jerk but not too much, reflecting the growth he's had since the Kirkman series. I'd love to see more of this partnership after next issue, but Hank's back to being Giant-Man in "Avengers Academy" so it wouldn't have quite the same ring to it. Anyway, if you liked Hank in "Mighty Avengers" you'll like this too. (The plot is also somewhat tied to "Civil War", which may interest some of you.)

Avengers 1-8: To borrow a phrase from Dan Slott, this is Bendis' "Avenger-y" Avengers book, with the big guns and the huge storylines. Surprisingly, I wasn't in love with the first six-issue arc. It has it's moments, but the future Avengers kids seem tangential to the story at best, and there seemed to be a lot of pointless running around and shouting. Not that it's not worth reading -- it most definitely is -- I just wasn't as into it as some of his other stories. John Romita Jr., however, does some stunning work in these issues. (Though you can picture him shaking his fist at the drawing board and saying, "What da hell is this Bendis guy thinkin’?") #7-8 are more like it, with some great Red Hulk scenes, and Bendis starting to pay off some long term storylines like the Illuminati and the Infinity Gems.


Avengers Academy 1-7: This is by far my favorite of the current Avengers books, and in my top 5 Marvel books overall. Seriously. Without giving away the twist at the end of #1 (even though it's probably spoiled all over the net already), I'll just say that the kids that Christos Gage has created are complex and interesting, and they each get spotlighted in the first six issues. Mike McKone's art handles the "acting" necessary to pull off these scenes perfectly. The adult cast is a mix of characters from "Mighty Avengers" and "Avengers: The Initiative" and they're great too. There's a scene with Jessica Jones and one of the kids in #6 that not only shows how much Jessica's evolved as a character, but also brought a tear to my eye. I liked Hank's taking the Wasp codename as a tribute to Jan, but Gage makes a convincing case for that to come to an end in #7. (And I do have to admit it's fun to have Giant-Man back, especially since I'm enjoying him in the cartoon.) Trust me on this one. Buy the first collection next month and you won't be disappointed.

Avengers Prime 1-4: It's Brian Bendis and Alan Davis. Just buy it, already.

Avengers: The Children's Crusade 1-3: I wish this was coming out faster, but it's awesome to have Allan Heinberg and Jimmy Cheung back on the "Young Avengers" characters. It's still too early in the plot to have much of an opinion about it, but I worry that no resolution of the Scarlet Witch situation could equal the buildup.

Batgirl 15-16: Really starting to come into its own with Dustin Nguyen as regular penciller. His coming aboard seems to have engergized Brian Q. Miller too, because the dialogue (especially in #16) is really starting to crackle Joss Whedon style.

Batman: Streets of Gotham 14-17: Wrapping up the "Hush as Bruce Wayne" storyline, which kind of seems pointless with Bruce back and the impersonation barely acknowledged in the other books. If I had to pick between Dini writing this book and "Gotham City Sirens", I'd pick "Sirens", but Dini has apparently chosen this one. I assume he'll still be writing about Dick and Damien, so that should be good.

Batman: The Return (one-shot): I had to cheat and flip back through this, because there were so many "Return"-related books that I can't remember what happened where. Some nice art from David Finch, but other than a great retelling of the night the bat flew through Bruce Wayne's window this is a pretty forgettable chapter.

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne 1-6: Great, great stuff. Yeah, you can make some superficial parallels to "Cap Reborn", but this is very much its own thing. Cast adrift in time, Bruce Wayne has to rebuild Batman from the ground up and escape Darkseid's final revenge at the same time. I also love that this, and Morrison's last arc in "Batman & Robin", put together all the pieces from "Final Crisis", "RIP" and even going back to JLA. I know that bothers some people, but I've loved piecing the crazy mosaic together in my head, and I also love that it's done now so that Morrison can go on and do something completely different in "Batman, Inc." This book deserves more discussion space, and I may come back to it when the collection comes out, but for now I'll just say I think it's well worth your time and energy.

Batman Inc. 1-2: As I said above, I'm thrilled that this is its own thing not tied up with references to the rest of Morrison's body of work. That makes it a great jumping on point. The best way I can describe it, though it will seem like a dig, is that he's doing a modern version of the Batman TV show. I mean, it's not camp at all (well maybe a little), but for some reason I can't put my finger on yet that's what it makes me think of. Recommended.


Birds of Prey 3-7: This has quickly become the second best book DC publishes. (Hint: Gail Simone also writes the best one.) The amount of genuine emotion coming off these pages is both staggering and hard to describe. It just needs to be experienced. (This is another book I'll probably spend more time on when it's collected.) Gail's taking some heat online for the whiteness of the cast, which she partially agrees with, but her work is generally so diverse compared to the rest of the industry that I wish people would back off a little bit.


Black Panther: Man Without Fear 513: Doesn't sync up with the end of "Shadowland" as cleanly as I would like (T'Challa's had contact with Matt? And Foggy knows about it?), but it's an interesting start and Francesco Francavilla's noir-style art is really great.


Brightest Day 5-16: I liked it better when we got a little of each character in every issue, but I'm still interested in all the storylines and the art is great.


Bruce Wayne: The Road Home specials: I liked the Vicki Vale plot in the issues that Fabian Nicieza wrote, although my prediction about her having a role in "Batman, Inc." seems to have been wrong. Otherwise, I'd say the "Batgirl" issue is essential reading if you're following that series. It was also a joy to have "Outsiders" creator Mike W. Barr write their issue. He doesn't quite have room to undo all the damage their current writer has done, but he makes the attempt and it was great to even briefly see those characters in good hands again.

Daredevil 510-512: The last page of #512 made "Shadowland" for me, addressing all my objections. Well done.

Hawkeye & Mockingbird 6: Just a quick mention of this book again, because at the time of my last writing I mistakenly thought #5 was the last issue before "Widowmaker". The followup from the end of last issue is great, and those of you who are Steve Rogers fans will really enjoy the scenes between him and Clint.

Justice League of America 46-50: I'll be honest, and I think I've partially expressed this before, I've liked the idea of Robinson's JLA more than I've liked the actual stories. (But Mark Bagley's art has been consistently amazing.) However, it's coming together for me in #50, which serves as a reintroduction to the characters and their motivations for being on the team. It's fun to see the Crime Syndicate fight a different JLA for a change, and for those of you who (like me) find the various versions of the Syndicate confusing that's at least acknowledged in-story if not explained (yet). I'll discuss the JSA crossover under the "Justice Society" title.


Justice Society of America 40-44: Bill Willingham's run ends rushed to make room for James Robinson's JLA crossover. There's a joke in Willingham's last issue that I laughed out loud at, mainly because of the facial expressions in the art, and then felt guilty about. (You'll know it when you see it.) There's no bigger fan of JLA/JSA crossovers than me, but I have to admit that without flipping through the books again I can't describe the plot of Robinson's story very well. Something about the Starheart going nuts, and Alan Scott having to contain all it's energy, and now he's more powerful than ever and his kids can't be in the same room for some reason. Great to see Bagley draw the JSA characters, though. I've only read the first issue of Marc Guggenheim's run so far. It has potential, and I'm a big fan of his, but it suffers from the kind of editorial coordination failure I'm always complaining about where Alan Scott is a huge badass at the end of Robinson's run and then he's beaten bad enough to require hospitalization in Guggenheim's first issue.


Heroes for Hire 1: Starts out as a "Birds of Prey" clone with Misty Knight as Oracle, but the patented DnA surprise on the last page turns the whole concept on its head. Can't wait to see where it goes next.

Justice League: Generation Lost 5-15: Judd Winick is doing a great job telling a gripping story with the JLI characters, redefining some of them (especially Ice) in the process. It's the kind of thing that will be made or broken by the ending, but so far so good. I could get bent out of shape by the misunderstanding of Captain Atom's powers -- he's supposed to get thrown into the future when he absorbs too much energy, not go forward and snap back -- but it works for the story.


Outsiders 32-33: Mercifully, I remember nothing about these issues.


Marineman 1: I liked this enough to read #2, but boy there are a lot of words in this book. Needs to move the plot along a little quicker, IMO.

Red Robin 17: If you're a Cassandra Cain fan with a computer, I'm sure you already know that she's featured in this issue. There's also a really great Tim and Bruce reunion scene.


Supergirl 58-59: A really great ending from Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle, tying up their run and even a plotline that goes back to the Dan Jurgens days. I really loved what this book became once freed of "New Krypton", and with the Nick Spencer run having fallen through I wish these guys had stayed on. (Though I guess Igle had already decided to move on, and that's why Gates quit, so their run would have ended no matter what.)

Supergirl Annual 2: Supposed to fix all the continuity confusion about Supergirl and the Legion, but I found it more confusing than helpful.

X-Men 1-4: Yeah. Not feeling the vampire thing, sorry.

Wow, this has taken much longer than I expected even at "lightning" speed, so I have to stop for now. More over the weekend. Happy New Year, everyone!

Comments

  1. Wow - - that's a pretty ambitious way to end the year, and you're pulling it off well. I've read the early issues of AVENGERS and AVENGERS PRIME and stockpiling the rest for a long reading sometime in my future. I really liked what I did manage to read of them. BATMAN: THE RETURN prompted me to go back and start reading a bunch of Morrison Batman books (also in the stockpile). I was really intriqued and impressed by THE RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE enough to want to really probe into these books further. I enjoy the light-hearted tone of BATMAN, INC and agree with you - - it's too serious to be considered "camp". I've been stockpiling DAREDEVIL trades for years - - and based on your reviews need to put that on my reading calendar. Yeah, stockpiling BRIGHTEST DAY titles also - - doggonit Jeff I can't keep up. I read the shortened preview of HEROES FOR HIRE and thought it was fun. Vampires and super=heroes never mix, and never make for good stories - - so X-MEN are completely off my watch list. Thanks for the recaps - - looking forward to reading your next installment. Happy New Year.

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  2. I have to disagree with the idea that vampires and super-heroes never mix, Mike--Paul Cornell told an incredible Dracula epic in Captain Britain and the MI-13, and the Tomb of Dracula series was, in some ways, a flagship Marvel title for years (which then proceeded to launch Blade into stardom). Although the initial X-Men arc has its flaws (although I think it recovered quite nicely in issues five and six), it was an interesting way to bring Dracula back to the forefront of the Marvel universe, like he used to be--like he should be. It's suggested that he'll have a major part in the upcoming "Fear Itself" event, which intrigues me.

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  3. The only Dracula title from Marvel I would like to see is the return of TOMB OF DRACULA - - and only if it stays free of super-heroes. I never warmed up to BLADE in any version and still don't really care for that character.

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