Comics I Read: Last Lightning Round

Last batch of unrehearsed remarks before you all get sick of me. (Too late, I know.)


Detective Comics 867-872: David Hine's "Impostor Joker" story in #867-870 didn't do much for me, though props as always to Scott McDaniel. I'm liking Scott Snyder & Jock's first two issues better, although I'm a little bothered by a cover built by Oracle being so easily punctured but maybe there'll be an explanation of that by stories end. However, the Commissioner Gordon backups with art by noir master Francesco Francavilla are brilliant and worth the price of admission all by themselves.


Daken: Dark Wolverine 1-4: I was starting to get bored with this, and then the FF show up in #4 written very well and Daken is both charming to them and utterly manipulative. Then we're left with the promise of a future confrontation with Captain America. Well played, Way & Liu. I'm hooked again for now.


Doom Patrol 12-17: Another of my top 5 DC books. In current issues, I love the way Giffen's been exploring the Chief's role and how thoroughly he messed up the DP's lives. It was also a huge treat to have him draw #16, featuring another character from Doom Patrol history (a specialty of this book.)


Freedom Fighters 1-4: I like the whole "National Treasure" / "Brad Meltzer's Decoded" vibe of having Uncle Sam and crew look for lost American artifacts and conspiracies. Why use them at all if what they're doing isn't uniquely American, right? It's a little over the top as far as the government goes -- dead senators and elected officials with missing fingers -- but it's not like DCU America was ever realistic. (President Luthor, anyone?) It's also great that the team has arguments about tactics with both sides having a valid point. Add to that the legacies of a couple of forgotten All-Star Squadron members, and I'm quite pleased with this book so far.

Generation Hope 1-2: There's always room for a "young" X-Men book -- most recently, um, "Young X-Men", which I loved -- and this is no exception. It's fresh because the mutation rules have changed, freeing writer Kieron Gillen to create new characters from a template we've never seen before. He does a great job at getting us inside their heads, with one notable exception that makes for an even more interesting character. These kids need Hope to activate them and bring them together, and the hints that their loyalty to her may not be completely voluntary are intriguing. A very good start, and I'm looking forward to a long run.


Green Arrow 1-7: Mixed feelings about this one. I didn't agree with all the "Cry for Justice" stuff and the jettisoning of all the supporting cast (except for Black Canary, because that got us "Birds of Prey" back), but I like that JT Krul is exploring Ollie's family background which I don't think has ever been done before.


Green Lantern 57-61, Green Lantern Corps 50-54, Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors 1-5: I'm lumping these titles together because it's becoming clear that they're all converging on the same story. ("War of the Green Lanterns", presumably.) These are some good comics, especially the main book by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke. I'm enjoying them every month, and I recommend them, but I don't have the passion for them at the moment that I do for things like "Brightest Day", "Birds of Prey", "Secret Six", "Avengers Academy" and all the other stuff I've raved about this week. Maybe that'll change as we get closer to the next major story, we'll see. Anyway, good stuff, but not at the top of the pile.


Hulk 25-28: I'll not give away Red Hulk's identity for a while longer, since I don't know where you're all at in the story, but having it known gives new writer Jeff Parker a whole new aspect of the character to explore. And if you missed Gabriel Hardman's art on "Atlas", as most of the world did, check it out here: he's outstanding.


Incredible Hulks 612-619: All the rest of the Hulks are here (though Banner appears in "Hulk" too), and Greg Pak continues his excellent work with these characters. The building of the Hulk's new family is great, and the confrontation with his other son tragic. (Although I missed the point where Hiro-Kala's parentage changed from "possibly a delusion" to "definitely the Hulk's son".) I've always like Paul Pelletier's art, but I'm definitely looking forward to Dale Eaglesham on the next arc.


Invincible Iron Man 28-32: Matt Fraction's been consistent on this book, so you probably already know if you like it or not. Personally, I love it. I'm a fan all of Fraction's current Marvel books, but if you forced me to pick a favorite it would have to be this one (by a hair over "Uncanny X-Men").


Knight & Squire 1-3: Paul Cornell and Jimmy Broxton have created the most British comic ever published by Americans. (Even the name "Jimmy Broxton" seems quintessentially British to me.) Cornell does make an attempt to explain the references in the back of each issue, but really either you grok the sensibility of this or it drives you nuts. I happen to love it, personally, but your mileage may vary. The first issue is completely bonkers, with a bazillion characters, and they get progressively more serious (but not too much so) after that.


Mighty Crusaders 1-6: And so the Archie Red Circle heroes revival dies alone, unmourned and unloved. There's nothing particularly wrong with this miniseries, but the concept was dead in the water long before it came along. I liked JMS "Web" premise and the ongoing "Shield" series had its moments, but that's about it.

Morning Glories 1-5: I'm really enjoying this Image series from "THUNDER Agents" writer Nick Spencer and artist Joe Eisma so far, especially the last half-dozen pages of #5. It's something I haven't seen before, told very well. To frame it as a cross between TV shows, I'd say it's like "The Prisoner" meets CW highschool drama. (Or what I imagine a CW highschool drama to be; I don't think I've actually seen one if "Smallville" doesn't count.) I’d love to compare this to Paul Dini’s “Tower Prep” on Not-A-Cartoon Network, but I haven’t had a chance to watch that yet. By the way, I completely forgot to mention Spencer’s awesome Jimmy Olsen backups when I was talking about Action Comics. The feature got booted from Action because of the price decrease, but there’s a special (and presumably a collection) on the way. I also hear good things about Spencer's "Infinite Vacation", a sci-fi series which had its first issue out this week.

New Mutants 15-20: I didn't quite realize that I had missed these characters until they came back, although I'm concerned that I won't care for the next writer's interpretation as well as I've liked Zeb Wells (who only has one issue left, I think.) Well's "Fall of the Mutants/Rise of the Mutants" story has been quite long, and it's arguably not a great idea to tie it back to "Inferno" but he gets these characters really well and I've enjoyed reading about how they've matured over the years. I don't necessarily recommend this book for everyone, but if you have affection for the original series I would try the trades of this one.

SHIELD 1-5: Seemingly another one of Jonathan Hickman's super-spy books, but it's hard to describe. Even though it spans a much longer period of history and a wider scope, I actually think it's more accessible than "Secret Warriors" because it's inventing new mythology and its point-of-view characters (Howard Stark, Leonardo da Vinci, Nathaniel Richards, etc.) are recognizable. It's also a beautiful-looking book, because of Dustin Weaver's art, and I assume Hickman also contributed his production design skills. There should be a collection out soon, and I recommend sampling this even if "Secret Warriors" was not to your taste.


Spider-Girl 1-2: Wow. #1 is really fun, with a protagonist written by Paul Tobin like an actual kid, and I love that the tweets from "her" real-life Twitter account are the captions in her story. Having the Fantastic Four as supporting characters was a nice touch, and the Dean Haspiel FF backup is fifteen kinds of charming. Then, WHAM!, #2 hit and about halfway through I realized there wasn't going to be a reprieve from the tragic thing that seemed to have happened, and I found it surprisingly powerful and moving. Really impressive on a level I was not expecting from this book. Highly recommended.
Teen Titans 88-90: Good stuff so far from the new creative team. I'd follow Nicola Scott anywhere, and writer JT Krul's additions of Damian and a new character are exactly the shot in the arm the book needs.

Thanos Imperative 1-6: Fast paced with lots of surprises, this is a no-brainer for anyone who's been following the Abnett & Lanning "cosmic" books but it's accessible to everyone. I'm going to avoid discussing the plot because of all the twists and turns, but I highly recommend it. Looking forward to "Annihilators" (basically the Cosmic Avengers) and it's "Rocket Racoon & Groot" co-feature.


Thor 615-618: I like the way Fraction's playing with the Asgardian cosmology, as well as the general despair the gods are feeling post-Siege. The team of Tony Stark, Jane Foster and the quantum cosmologist who's figured out what's going on is a hoot, and there are some surprise returning characters. Pasqual Ferry's frequent double-page art spreads are amazing too.


Thunderbolts 144-151: Have I really not written about this at all since the Luke Cage era started? I guess not. Well, I think the book benefits enormously from having the redemption theme available again and writer Jeff Parker is one of my favorites so I'm glad to have him on board. I think this book had the only other "Heroic Age" Norman Osborn appearance besides "Avengers Academy" (and the "Osborn" mini, of course), so some of you may be interested in that. Notable stories include Steve Rogers vs. Crossbones (his killer) in #150 and the Ghost spotlight in #151.


Thunderstrike 1-2: I actually was a fan of this series back in the day, and I'm enjoying the revival so far. (Everything you need to know about the original is explained.) Nice, solid power-and-responsibility stuff from writer Tom DeFalco and great old-school art from Ron Frenz and Sal Buscema. (To the point where the Steve Rogers/Sharon Carter scenes are drawn as if Jack Kirby drew them.) Nowhere near as good as the new "Spider-Girl", ironically, but fun.


Titans 25-30: It's really time for writer Eric Wallace to start giving us some inkling of what Deathstroke is up to, but the Batman appearance was pretty good and at least Ray Palmer is starting to show an interest in what happened to his predecessor (or successor, I guess, depending on your POV). The characters in "Secret Six" seem to know what happened, but I'll chalk the discrepancy up to them not exactly having a line of communication to the Justice League.


Ultimate Comics X 1-3: I'll talk about most of the current Ultimate books another day because I've switched to reading them in collections, but I did get these individual issues and I just wanted to point out that this is another book that couldn't be done in the Marvel U. The "Ultimatum" changes devastated the X-Men, including characters that you would think couldn't be touched, and that forced Jeph Loeb to come up with a way to do a mutant book that isn't the X-Men. Good stuff, and of course Art Adams is a master. If they ever ship enough issues to make a collection -- Adams has had family and/or health problems recently -- I recommend it based on what I've seen so far.


Uncanny X-Force 1-3: I liked the previous series well enough, but I like this revamp by Rick Remender a lot. It even features Deadpool in the cast in a way that doesn't annoy me! This book is at it's best when it's about moral choices in addition to ass-kicking, and the choice that's coming for these characters (which the readers know about but they don't yet) is going to be a big one.


Uncanny X-Men 526-531: Really enjoying the post-"Second Coming" phase of Matt Fraction's X-Men, and based on the first couple issues of "Generation Hope" having Kieron Gillen aboard will be great too. I was never a fan of Whilce Portacio, but I really liked the "Five Lights" issues that he drew, and even Greg Land's work seems a lot less stiff in the "Quarantine" arc. (Which has lots of fun stuff like a faux-original X-Men team and an ad-hoc team including Northstar and Dazzler who have to do the superheroing while the rest of the cast is sick on Utopia.)


Wolverine 1-4: Liking the "Wolverine Goes to Hell" arc so far, and I think Jason Aaron is making better use of Logan's integrated past here than Daniel Way was in the previous volume. I'll be interested to see the choice Logan's girlfriend makes about exactly how much she's willing to risk to help him escape hell.

Wolverine: The Best There Is #1: This is an odd first chapter from Charlie Huston, with Logan out in clubs dancing instead of drinking beer in dive bars like we're accustomed to. There's maybe some indication that it's a put-on, but most of the time it sure seems like it's intended at face value. I won't judge finally until the story's over, but based on first issues alone if I had to pick between this title and Jason Aaron's "Wolverine" I'd pick Aaron for sure.


Wonder Woman 603-605: I'll be honest: I think JMS leaving is a train wreck for this book and character. A critically acclaimed, albeit not best-selling, run was ended so that a new writer could come in and reshape Wonder Woman according to his singular vision. Now he's gone. Yes, he left an outline to follow, but it won't be the same. Phil Hester is a good choice, and there are some good signs in his first issue with Diana relating to ordinary people for the first time in the arc, but I think the best he can probably do is to get things back to the way they were before. I get that Gail Simone's run wasn't selling well, but the people who were reading it were perfectly happy and whatever new readers they gained by this stunt have probably been turned off by the creative change so what was the point? On the other hand, obviously nobody should be forced to write anything they don't want to, so I don't know what the right answer is. But I'm frustrated because this was a great book, and now not so much.

X-23 1-4: Starts with a tie in to "Wolverine Goes to Hell" that mainly serves to give X-23 (Laura) the sense of purpose that drives the series. As revealed in the publicity, she's joined by Gambit when she hits the road. People often like Gambit because of his roguish charm, but Marjorie Liu plays him with a resigned wisdom that suits him well and gives him a place in Laura's world. It's the best I've seen the character written in years, and I'm very impressed. (Not to slight the main character, who's also intriguing and very well written.) Easily my favorite thing Liu has written for Marvel so far.


X-Men Legacy 241-243: Was pleased with the end of the India story in #241 (which I've already said was my favorite story so far since the switch from Xavier to Rogue). I don't have a huge affection for Hellion, but the story focused on him (and, to a lesser extent, Hope) in #242-243 was very well done. I liked the way it was told, like one of those TV dramas where they're interviewing the participants after the fact and flashing back to show what they're describing.


X-Factor 207-212: I think everybody's had the opportunity over the years to decide whether they like Peter David's distinctive style on this book, so I'll just say that it's as clever and funny as ever (and as inconsistently drawn). The Thor guest appearance was great, especially Shatterstar's reaction to him.

Zatanna 7-8: Pleasantly surprised that Paul Dini followed up directly on Adam Beechen's good fill-in in #7, and it was a joy to have Cliff Chiang draw #8. Looking forward to Jamal Igle (of Supergirl and Firestorm fame) take over the art on this book soon.


And...scene. I hope you enjoyed, or at least tolerated, this massive overview of titles. I'll probably stick to discussing collections only from this point forward, but I may make an exception for any first issues or great story arcs I think deserve your attention. Thanks for reading!

Comments

  1. Thanks Jeff. I enjoy the mega-sized review articles and the summaries keep me up to date on a lot of titles I can't keep up with. I like KNIGHT & SQUIRE also, as quirky as it is. I may write something on it (not sure) but not before it finishes. I'm following SHIELD also, but somehow missed Issue #3 & 4. Maybe too long between issues and I lost track. I haven't found them in the back issue sections of any comics stores yet. I may be asking to borrow your copies. Keep up the great work!

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