AVENGERS INFINITY #1 begins another Avengers mini-series, this time with a team picked from Avengers reserves. THOR is the biggest name on the team, followed by Quasar, Photon, Tigra, and Moondragon. Of course, this being the Avengers, there's plenty of intrateam squabbling, an unspecified but truly horrific villain lurking around the corner, plenty of continuity explained and flashbacks galore with heaps of editorial notes to let us know which issues of AVENEGRS these storylines came from in the first place. It's a truly neat trick to blend all this continuity together into one cohesive whole. Kurt Busiek, with Roger Stern, did an awe-inspiring job on that with AVENGERS FOREVER.
Sean Chen's art on the inside is much better than his cover. The cover looks like something you might have seen on an Avengers book just after Image was started and Marvel tried its hardest to hire every second-rate Liefeld/Lee/McFarlane impersonator they could get - the ones that Lee or Liefeld didn't hire on to join their studios already, that is.
Steve Oliff does an excellent job coloring this one in, too. Check out the opening splash page for all the proof you may need that the man knows how to color.
Off on a slight tangent: I just finished reading AVENGERS FOREVER (at long last) a couple of weeks ago. It's a great series, and one that is bound to give some people headaches. To me, however, the great thing about it is that it reads like one giant piece of fan-fic. It indulges itself in explaining away continuity gaffes left over time by a rotating series of creative teams. This is the kind of thing usually only done on this massive a scale by some obsessive fans. It's that kind of love and respect for the material which far too frequently doesn't come out on the printed page.
Kurt Busiek wrote it, with some help from Roger Stern in the second half on plots, and Carlos Pacheco drew up a storm. It's an impressive piece of work. It starts very slowly, leaving the reader wondering why they're bothering with all of this. But the payoff comes early on in the second half of the series, with two or three solid issues of exposition to clear up continuity and leave behind a stunning plot of deception, machinations, and conspiracy. Very well done.
Meanwhile, over at DC, we're learning just slightly more about Superman's predicament with THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #582. This is perhaps J.M. DeMatteis' finest effort in his short tenure so far on this series. His sense of humor gets to take center stage. Without slowing down the plot or forcing any odd plot events to get there, he crafts a solidly funny and entertaining book. All of you MAD fans are going to love this one. The Alfred E. Nueman jokes run rampant.
SUPERMAN ADVENTURES #47 is a science-fiction epic, of sorts. While the high concept has been done before, it's still an interesting little tale from Kelley Puckett. Aluir Amancio is an interesting artist on this series. He draws a very sexy Lois Lane in a very subtle manner. It's not the shortness of the skirt that he relies on, but just her general body language. It isn't offensive at all. Check out page 15 for an excellent example of this. Terry Austin's inks really complement his pencils well there.
Oh, and the cover is a wonderful homage to Carl Barks' cover of "Micro-Ducks From Outer Space." Either that, or it's just plain cheesy retro-looking for no good reason.
Yes, that's right; in the same week, DC published ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN and SUPERMAN ADVENTURES. I'm sure someone somewhere has a headache over that.
With GENERATION X #67, I'm firmly convinced now that I just don't like Steve Pugh's art. Aside from continuing the mutation of Jubilee from Asian to American to now Filipino - I guess - the rest of the book just looks, well, uninspired. There's lots of overlapping panels, close-ups, thick lines. There are four different inkers listed in the credits, so there's a good chance that Marvel just hasn't used the right inker for Pugh yet. But there's more than just that.
At least there's a nice Art Adams cover! =)
Storywise, Brian Wood has brought us back six months to see where everything went wrong leading to the school's destruction and at least one character's disappearance. Like with the first storyline, there's an awful lot of setup in this first issue and very little real goings-on. That's yet to come, but there's enough interesting stuff on the table here to keep my interest up for the next three parts.
Erik Larsen gets to draw Spider-Man in his red and blue costume an awful lot in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #21. If only for that reason, the book is worth picking up. The story itself is fairly straightforward, and the ending was something I predicted about two panels after it was set up in the first few pages. I always thought Peter Parker was supposed to be smarter than me! The whole thing about Peter worrying about his family will only stretch my belief so far.
X-MEN rocks. Really, there are parts of it that are just flat-out Claremontian. Hugh Jackman steals the movie as Wolverine, prompting some people to ask for a WOLVERINE movie, not just an X-MEN 2. With the large opening weekend it just had, the sequel is pretty much guaranteed. That's a good thing. Hopefully, this can turn into a franchise. We just have to hope it doesn't fall victim to the same things that killed the Batman franchise - egomaniacal directors unchecked by anyone writing the checks, obsessed more with star power than with a movie that didn't insult anyone's intelligence too badly.
I continue to be amazed by the lunacy of movie critics, also. Reviews were generally poor for the movie. The most insulting reviews were the ones that complained that the mutants weren't having any fun. The movie was too serious. It was too dark.
What the heck do the critics want? Another campy Joel Schumacher mess? Well, yeah, apparently; they do. I wonder how many of their mindless reviews appeared under headlines that included "BAM," "POW," or "KABLOOEY". They want a comic book on the screen that looks like something they'd remember from their childhood. Of course, memories of that have been warped in time, too, reduced to the simplified brightly colored images and 60s hilarity abounding. I wish any one of those critics had read an issue or three of UNCANNY X-MEN before they wrote their reviews.
CHICKEN RUN is cute, well worth watching, and entertaining. The kids will get restless in a few spots. There's a lot of emotion in this, and not just mindless violence, humor, or things going ka-boom. It's a very mature piece, if you're disposed to take it on such a level, with some humor that might go over the kids' heads. But there's enough plain silliness to keep anyone entertained.
I did feel a little awkward in the scene early on where the chicken gets her head cut off. It's all done off-screen, but I wondered if that might not scare some of the little kids. I don't know. I'm not a parent. (And heaven help the world if I ever become one.)
In my review last week of the X-MEN 2000 Annual, I mentioned an unresolved plot point about Thunderbird and his ladylove. As luck would have it, that story was told in X-MEN UNLIMITED #27 just a few months ago. It's just too bad the editor(s) didn't put a little pointer to that issue anywhere in that scene.
Special thanks to Adam White, Jason Tippit, and B.J. Boyd for pointing that out.
IN THE NEXT WEEK
Next Tuesday's column is already in the can. Expect a lot of stuff related to TELLOS. If you've been following the series so far, this column is for you. If you've never read it before, the column won't be of much interest to you, I hate to admit. Them's the breaks.
And don't forget to come back here later this week for daily Pipeline: San Diego updates after each day of the San Diego Comic Con.