Last time, it was because Brian asked me to do it. This time, it’s because I feel like it… I’m bringing my EXCLUSIVE! mini-reviews and star ratings of the comics I got this week* to Comics Should be Good (* Excluding Before Watchmen: Comedian #3 and the four Avengers vs. X-Men comics released this week because I discuss them in their own series of posts). The title says it all, so let’s get to it…
Avengers Assemble #7: Issue seven? Jesus, that can’t be right… It feels like we’ve gotten about four issues of content. The Thanos/Starlin fan in me dug the opening scene where Thanos slaughters the Elders of the Universe for no reason other than he hates them. Like beating their asses one by one to steal the Infinity Gems wasn’t enough. Otherwise, an empty issue brought low by its reliance on Mark Bagley’s art, which has been particularly godawful during his time on this book. I think the Bendis/Bagley run on this title ends next issue and it seems like it will be a rushed/bullshit ending based on where the story is. FUN! [**]
Captain America #17: Oh, I get it… Ed Brubaker doesn’t want us to be sad that he’s leaving this title… It all makes sense now! [*1/2]
Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE #0: Two things stood out in this issue: the Frankenstein/Monster isn’t at all like the Mary Shelley version, which negates the reason for much of his personality making any sense whatsoever; and SHADE has been around for a long time for whatever reason. Not a terribly impressive ‘origin’ story, because it had two options: retell Frankenstein or deviate wildly and neither option was a good one. Or, it could have just sidestepped all of that and simply told a one-off story from before issue 1 of this series… And, apparently, Alberto Ponticelli is leaving this book soon for Dial H. That annoys me, because his art has been one of the reasons I’ve stuck with this book. It sets the mood and feel of the title incredibly well. Also, I don’t think he’s missed an issue yet. How many other titles have had that sort of artistic consistency? Unless the title is ending, taking Ponticelli off of it seems like a mistake. Back to the comic… Disappointing. [**]
Haunt #26: Finally, something I actually enjoyed! I will continue to reiterate my dislike of the colouring on this comic. It doesn’t do Nathan Fox’s strong, dynamic art any services — usually, it just muddles the art and makes it confusing/unclear exactly what’s being depicted. It is getting better, though. Slowly. Much too slowly. There’s a hint of that slowness in the writing, too. Casey has taken his time with the story he’s telling, but I don’t mind since the individual scenes are good enough to carry things. The fight between the brothers, or the detectives trying to find a way around the church are both engaging enough on their own that the bigger picture doesn’t need to crop up explicitly. [***1/2]
Journey into Mystery #643: The explanation for the last page reveal from last week’s The Mighty Thor was satisfactory. I had my doubts about that reveal and this issue swept those doubts aside. This crossover gets better and better — this issue was the strongest so far. The Loki stuff is so damn compelling and builds on Gillen’s entire run of work on the character dating back to his brief time on Thor. What I especially like is that you genuinely can’t tell if Loki is sincere — has he ‘turned evil’ or is it a trick? Probably a trick, but… for what end? This version of Loki is even more unpredictable than the old one. What he does next is anyone’s guess and I can’t wait… thankfully, with the weekly shipping schedule on “Everything Burns,” I don’t have to wait long! [****]
The Manhattan Projects #6: That moment of knowing you’re fucked… christ… [***3/4]
The Massive #4: The first of three Brian Wood-penned books for me this week. What I’m wondering is if reading all of DMZ this weekend will make me more or less inclined to continue enjoying this comic. It feels like a very ‘Brian Wood’ sort of comic — for good or ill. And, I mean, it should, right? He’s very good at using characters to create the environment around them. How they act, react, relate to one another… he builds worlds from the characters in a way I haven’t seen many writers pull off. There’s still a somewhat narrow view of this world, but it grows each issue and Garry Brown joining the book (for this arc at least) is nice. I can’t remember seeing his art before, but it’s good. [***3/4]
Punk Rock Jesus #3: The most surprising thing about this comic is how long it has taken for ‘Jesus’ (aka Chris) to become a legitimate character in the story rather than a plot point/prop. The second-most surprising thing is how much I like Sean Murphy’s writing. I expected to tolerate it while looking at the purdy pictures and, instead, he’s really hooked me into the characters and their story. It’s hard to make you both sympathise and hate a character and he does that over these first three issues in Gwen. How the second half will shake out is anyone’s guess. [****]
Ultimate X-Men #16: Kitty Pryde and Nick Fury shooting up Sentinels… a guerrila mutant army forming to take on racist separatists… Wood is writing his ass off here. This is one of those mainstream superhero books that, in five years, people will tell you to track down. I’m telling you now. [****]
Winter Soldier #10: I like that the ‘you broke the brainwashing’ bit was bullshit. I also would have loved to see an expanded version of the ‘Hey guys, I’m not dead!’ scene with Hawkeye and Wolverine. The real question: will they have the balls to keep the Black Widow a bad guy at the end of this story? [***3/4]
X-Men #35: The easiest comparison point for this book is Warren Ellis’s tenure on Astonishing X-Men. Similar ideas, similar cynical/nasty take on the characters — but Wood does something different. There’s a weariness to his characters. When Domino turns to Psylocke and asks if maybe they’d be better off throwing the vial of weird mutant DNA into the ocean, because it will almost certainly get stolen in the future and require lots of bullshit to get back, it’s one of those great moments you sometimes see in comics like this where the characters are allowed to almost act like real people would. It’s enough to hang my like of this issue on. Wood’s take on the ‘security team’ concept has been pretty good with Storm continuing to go her own way, damn what Scott thinks. And the art is decent. I’m a sucker for the Boschi/Brown team. [***1/2]
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