I can't believe how many Comic Book Wednesdays I've had in a row now. I'm not sure how many exactly; but more than two amazes me.
I’m starting with what I think is the most significant things to happen in comics this year. And before you say it, no – Flashpoint isn’t as big and September hasn’t happened yet.
I’ve talked many times about how much I love Ultimate Spider-Man and how consistently excellent the book is. Bendis has crafted this Peter Parker in such a way that he’s like an old acquaintance that you’re watching go through hard times. I believe the Ultimate universe Peter Parker is the only character that I’ve truly come to enjoy and appreciate in the same way that you hear old folks talk about the original Spider-Man. All of the characters I grew up with were so dark and so over-the-top (including regular Spider-Man) that I never thought of any of them as friends or companions. I never understood when people talked about Peter Parker or Ben Grimm or Barry Allen with such a personal resonance.
Brian Michael Bendis made me understand that with Ultimate Spider-Man.
The death story itself seemed a little drawn-out, but the final issue was one of the best comics I’ve read and easily the finest conclusion of any character. I honestly wish Marvel would just leave Ultimate Spider-Man alone now and call those 160 issues a completed story. Because it is. Peter’s final words to Aunt May encapsulate everything that is wonderful about this particular version of the character and will absolutely rip your heart out of your chest. I haven’t often teared up because of a comic book, but that one got me.
As far as I’m concerned, Ultimate Spider-Man is done. And that’s fine.
I don’t like the alternating story arcs. I’m sure there’s a reason they didn’t just make “Monstrous” it’s own mini-series like they did with the excellent Xenogenesis. It certainly deserves it.
As heartbroken as I am about the Ultimate Death of Ultimate Comics Ultimate Spider-Man; at least he went out properly. Stephanie Brown is getting no such consideration (so it would seem), and the last issue of Batgirl just makes it even more irritating. It’s a fantastic team-up with Squire (from this comic) that features Bryan Q. Miller doing his best impersonation of Paul Cornell.
I have this theory, though. What if September’s Batgirl features Barbara Gordon as some sort of Tron-esque cyber crime-fighter (as introduced in one of the recent Morrison comics) in the Unternet (as introduced in Red Robin) and Stephanie and Cassandra as real-world Batgirls? Or Batgirl and Black Bat, I guess. As much as I will miss Miller (who does not appear to have any future commitments with DC) a Gail Simone-penned Stephanie Brown would be just fine.
BATMAN AND ROBIN
Much to my surprise I’m enjoying Judd Winick’s current arc. I like the art in this issue, but I’m not sure it’s great for this story. I am not at all looking forward to David Hine being the one to close out this series. He’s written some of the worst Batman stories in recent memory and I don’t think that’s any way to send off what used to be one of the greatest comic titles ever.
BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY
The second issue was much more satisfying than the first. Now we’re really getting into the story and I can’t wait to see where it goes. Joker sneaking into the new Arkham City and proclaiming himself mayor was pretty awesome.
Nothing new to report here. #7 came out today.
BIRDS OF PREY
So bummed this (as we know it) is ending. I can't muster a shit to give about the September version.
BLACK PANTHER: MAN WITHOUT FEAR
Dropped it. T’Challa is an asshole.
BRIGHTEST DAY: THE SEARCH FOR SWAMP THING
This was stupid. I’d say avoid it. John Constantine came off like a caricature of John Constantine and Batman… Batman acted exactly like Batman from Spawn/Batman. This is bad for two reasons: 1) That Batman was Bruce Wayne and this one is Dick Grayson, who is demonstrably lighter and less judgmental and, 2) That Batman was the alternate universe dickhead Bruce Wayne from Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns; so even that can be excused more than this can. I’m not getting the rest of these. I’ll check in with Swamp Thing again when Scott Snyder is holding the pen.
Still worth reading somehow. Now Wade has realized just what kind of a sack of shit he is and wants to end it all. He’s spent the last couple of issues trying to piss the Hulk off enough that the big, green machine will kill the Merc With A Mouth. It’s really, really funny. And sad.
I definitely missed Kyle Baker’s art on the last issue, but fill-in artist Shawn Crystal did a pretty bang-up job. I’ll hate to see issue 12 arrive and end this crazy-ass book.
Scott Snyder is one of my current golden boys. I’m going to hate to see anybody take Dick Grayson from him, but I have to think if anybody can do it it’s Kyle Higgins, Snyder’s co-writer on the excellent Gates of Gotham.
DOCTOR WHO: FAIRYTALE LIFE
My shop didn’t pull issue 2 for me. I’m still pretty pissed about that. I also still don’t have it. Greg.
(map from Newsarama.com)
Oh, here we go. I’m just going to run down the list of #1’s and tell you if you should bother with them or picking up the rest.
It would be very easy for me to just say you should skip all of the “Flashpoint” titles (oh, so easy). But I would hope that you, like me, enjoy reading comics because of the unique nature of sequential storytelling. Not because of their importance in or relevance to what is a purely fictional universe in the first place. And there is some good sequential storytelling to be had here. Just think of this as “Elseworlds Summer” like I am.
- FLASHPOINT – The central title is solid, at least. It’s all about Barry Allen – who seems to be one of the few who is aware that things have changed in the good ol’ DCU – trying to figure out just what the fuck is going on. ESSENTIAL
- ABIN SUR THE GREEN LANTERN – I liked this one, particularly the art and the companionship between Sur and Sinestro. I want more. TRY IT OUT
- BATMAN KNIGHT OF VENGEANCE – Thomas Wayne as Batman is very interesting. ESSENTIAL
- SECRET SEVEN – I’m not going to say don’t buy it, because it might be right up your alley. It isn’t bad, but it’s not for me. DONE AT #1
- THE WORLD OF FLASHPOINT – I dug this story about a minor character (that I am totally unfamiliar with) who realizes things aren’t right. This one seems to tie directly into the main story. ESSENTIAL
- CITIZEN COLD – It’s a good story about a bad guy. Not in any way essential, though. TRY IT OUT
- DEATHSTROKE THE CURSE OF RAVAGER – Not bad, but not great, either. DONE AT #1
- EMPEROR AQUAMAN – Dull, but ties into the main story. Doesn’t really tell you anything you haven’t already found out, though. DONE AT #1
- FRANKENSTEIN AND THE CREATURES OF UNKNOWN – Seems to have very little to do with the main story, but IT’S AWESOME. TRY IT OUT
- DEADMAN AND THE FLYING GRAYSONS – I really enjoyed this one. I especially liked seeing Boston Brand as the self-centered douche he would become if he hadn’t died. This one doesn’t seem to impact the whole Flashpoint thing much, but it was a good read. TRY IT OUT
- GRODD OF WAR – You can totally skip this one. I liked it, but my life was not enriched by reading it. If it were the start of a new series I would be excited, but it isn’t so meh. SKIP IT
- LEGION OF DOOM – Remember when I said Suicide Girls was one of the stupidest comics I have ever read? Well, this one isn’t as stupid, but it is much less entertaining. This is just a bad, bad comic. So bad. The dialogue is some of the worst I’ve read in years. I want to line a bird cage with this thing, but we don’t have a bird. POOP ON THIS
- WONDER WOMAN AND THE FURIES – I dug this one. It gave a much more interesting take on the events we’ve already read about fifteen other times in the first month alone, and it is central to the main story. TRY IT OUT
- KID FLASH LOST – This is fun. Bart Allen is one of the few that knows things have changed. If you can get past the blatant rip-offs (sorry, homages) that litter this book I think you’ll enjoy it. I read one reviewer who said that if you don’t like Bart Allen than this book isn’t for you. That’s the stupidest statement ever made. TRY IT OUT
- LOIS LANE AND THE RESISTANCE – The art was weak cartoony bullshit and the story just wasn’t that great. – DONE AT #1
- THE OUTSIDER – I like this to the point where I hope this creep gets drafted into the new DC continuity. It also seems somewhat integral to the main title. ESSENTIAL
- REVERSE FLASH – This sucked. It’s yet another retelling of all the terrible stuff Reverse Flash (what a shit name, by the way) has done, only in the style of some lame biographical comic. POOP ON THIS
Now, I haven’t read any of today’s titles yet, but if you would like a completely uninformed opinion on what you should buy; well here you go:
- HAL JORDAN – This could be really boring. Not as boring as if they had done BARRY ALLEN (wait, I guess that’s pretty much what the main book is – oops), but Hal’s just a guy here. Granted, he’s a fighter pilot who I think is tasked with dropping a mega-weapon into the laps of either the Atlanteans or the Amazons. SKIP IT
- PROJECT SUPERMAN – This is as close to a sure thing as we’re going to get. Not only is the idea of a Superman hidden away in a government cave interesting, this one is also written by Scott Snyder. ESSENTIAL
- THE CANTERBURY CRICKET – This looks like it’s either going to be crazy fun or just stupid. It ties directly in with the awful Lois Lane book, so I’m guessing the latter. SKIP IT
- GREEN ARROW INDUSTRIES – It’s a one-shot. How much story can they really tell? It sounds interesting, but we’ll see. TRY IT OUT
While I’m enjoying the individual comics that make up the “Cobra Civil War” event – Cobra, Snake-Eyes and GI Joe – I’m not sure they’re quite living up to the setup. So much drama was created with the idea that the various candidates for the vacant position of Cobra leader were going to compete by seeing who could kill the most Joes. So far between I think five issues of three titles three Joes have died (according to the above graphic it's 24 - some of those must have occurred off-panel). It’s almost like a nod to the incompetence of the old Sunbow Cobra Commander or something. Murders aside, the intrigue has been good. Seeing the various potential Commanders plot and scheme has been very interesting, particularly given the new spins on old characters. I love the new Serpentor as a Jim Jones/Benny Hin type.
GI JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO
Big 80’s fun, Hama style.
GREEN LANTERN CORPS
GREEN LANTERN EMERALD WARRIORS
I guess things are coming to a head, but I can’t imagine how it’s going to turn out. While I can’t honestly recommend any non-Batman DC titles right now, you might want to pick up the trade of “War of the Lanterns” once it comes out. I think it’s going to be very satisfying to sit down and read all in one go.
There have been a few Hack/Slash books lately. Hack/Slash vs. Bomb Queen sucked. I don’t know anything about Bomb Queen and I really don’t care to. Hack/Slash/Eva is much better. H/S creator Tim Seeley and Eva creator Brandon Jerwa came up doing DDP’s GI Joe comics (which I still love even if Hasbro ousted them from canon), so it’s interesting to see them getting together. I don’t know any more about Eva than I do about Bomb Queen, but the concept is interesting. You might want to pick this one up if you see it.
As for the main Hack/Slash series from Image, it’s going strong. I’m afraid it’s going to be a little diluted by the supporting cast the same way as the DDP run was, though. Time will tell. For the time being, writer Tim Seeley and artist Daniel Leister are doing a great job of building towards something. I’m just not sure what.
Issue #5, however, featured fill-in artist Kyle Strahm. All of the folks who worship at the feet of Richard Corben should proclaim this guy the new messiah of horror, because his art is very Corben-esque except for the fact that he understands proportions. That’s right – apparently Kyle Strahm has seen a human being and know that our heads tend to be smaller than our legs. Or torsos. Sorry, I just don’t like Richard Corben. But Kyle Strahm is great. I wish him many long years of horror comics. Maybe a Hellboy at some point. But please, Mr. Strahm – stay away from Chaos! and Zenoscope characters.
Oh, I almost forgot Hack/Slash Meets Zombie Cheerleaders (I told you there was a lot). It’s great fun, despite cartoony artwork. Pick it up.
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN
I am so glad this isn’t tying directly in with any other “Fear Itself” titles. I mean, thematically I guess it is, but I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. What could possibly be missing from a giant, roided-up-on-evil Grey Gargoyle versus Tony Stark story anyway?
I haven’t read the newest issue yet. Sorry. I’ve got kind of a big stack right now, plus a bunch of trades and entire runs of Rising Stars and Secret Six. I want to get caught up just in time for it to get canceled. (Never mind – just read it. The story is good, but Sugar Man? Really? That's just super because I love Age of Apocalypse stuff about as much as I love teeth during a blowjob.)
I absolutely love this story arc. I’m not going to spoil it, but the purpose of the whole Assassination Tournament is so much bigger and crazier than anyone (except Fabian Nicieza) could have guessed. I hate it that Nicieza is being put on titles that I really just don’t care about.
STAR WARS: JEDI – THE DARK SIDE
This is shaping up to be a solid murder mystery tale starring the best saber jockey from the prequels – Qui-Gon Jinn.
So. Fucking. Retarded. The art continues to be nice to look at without being capable of telling a story in any way. This is one of the stupidest comics I’ve ever read, and I read a lot of Image comics in the 90’s.
I never, never would have imagined I would be enjoying anything having to do with the Age of Apocalypse. But I am. Damn you, Remender.
Just went back and read the most recent arc of Breakworld stuff. Really good. I'm so glad I'm catching up with this and Suicide Squad just in time!
Surely I don’t even need to talk about how great this book is.
WARLORD OF MARS
I can’t stop buying this comic. I tried. But it’s just so fantastic and magical and different from anything else I’m reading.
WARLORD OF MARS: DEJAH THORIS
A giant colossus is stomping around Barsoom (Mars), destroying everything in its path. Only the son of the man trapped inside can stop it! Plus, barely concealed Martian titties! Tell me you don’t want to read that at least a little tit. Er… bit.
I never, never would have imagined I would be enjoying anything having to do with Feral. But I am. Damn you, David.
Until next time, stay creepy