Friday, July 25, 2014

funnybook of the week: July 9th, 2014

An all-Marvel week. I either need to diversify the pull list more or this is just an aberration. We’ll see which soon enough, I guess. Although since half of these are Spider-Man family comics...

6 - Fantastic Four #7 (last issue - 11 out of 12 books)
Anger at the omission of the truth, a scientific process that can’t be repeated or whatever, and then a murder that doesn’t get committed. This is all trope and no development. I think we’re done here.

5 - Amazing Spider-Man #1.3 (last issue - 1 out of 12 books)
Early Spider-Man irritates future supervillain. This one was more by-the-numbers life-ruining than the last, and otherwise didn’t add a whole lot to the proceedings.

4 - Captain Marvel #5 (last issue - 1 out of 7 books)
The issue where convenient things happen, the full scope of the plot is suddenly revealed, and no one wants to do what’s right so Captain Marvel has to. Only the last part really worked, and that doesn’t pay off ‘til next issue.

3 - Original Sin #5.1 (last issue - n/a)
While I’m not sold on Freja’s emotional blathering or the addition of Angela’s Heaven as the 10th of the 9 realms, I am largely sold on the emotional core of this issue. Thor and Loki seeking out their long-lost sister, and an old Loki guiding the action.

This also makes me think I maybe didn’t give Loki: Agent of Asgard enough issues to sell me, because it looks like really interesting work being done with that title.

2 - Superior Foes of Spider-Man #13 (last issue - 7 out of 7 books)
The fun is back here. Mistrust and awkwardness for the bulk of the crew, and some fun with Speed Demon to top it off, but the real star of this issue was Silvermane and the Shocker fending off Hammerhead and his gang. I can’t remember exactly when the Shocker started becoming less of a threat and more of a punch line, but this issue is almost the completion of a characterization that goes back to the Deadly Foes of Spider-Man mini from waaaay back when.

Except we get more, and I’m okay with that.

1 - Spider-Man 2099 #1 (last issue - n/a)
Peter David understands that comics are, above all else, supposed to be a fun escape, and approaches his return to Miguel as a character with a fantastic amount of fun via a matter-of-fact mercenary out to set the timeline straight (and also set the tone and major foreshadowing for the series to come).

The laugh lines were there, a new reader could learn who Miguel was and what he was about, and the scripting was a tight one-in-done story that made you want more. This was a hell of a debut issue.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

funnybook of the week: June 25th, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man is amazing enough to win again.

12 - Uncanny Avengers #21 (last issue - 3 out of 5 books)
Ah hahahaha, Kang knew everything! Kang conquers all! Right?

Man, when rube goldberg supervillain plots go well, they really go well. But when there are this many moving parts even independent of the expertly sewn seeds at the start of this whole story? When it comes down to "I knew you'd know what they'd do and use it against them"? I just can’t…

11 - Fantastic Four #6 (last issue - 5 out of 5 books)
Oops and now I hate you. There was a valiant effort to save this with a section questioning the ethics of killing an android, but the Original Sin tie-in was just. Too. Yawn.

10 - All-New Ultimates #4 (last issue - 2 out of 6 books)
While I’m digging some of the characterizations, the amateur hour superheroics beach break seemed...off somehow. I’m sticking around to see what Bendis can do with Spider-Man, but it looks like this relaunch of the Ultimate Univers is leaving me the same way just about all the others did…

9 - Letter 44 #7 (last issue - 3 out of 10 books)
I grow weary of these books that stop a story to give you some deep background on the characters. I get why you can’t do that at the top of the story. You have to start where the action is, where the hook is. But maybe that’s my problem with these. They weren’t interesting enough to start your story with, and are they necessary enough to interrupt the story with once you’ve got the hook into the reader?

Did we need to know that two of our space team were brilliant? I think we’d already figured that out. A history that makes things happening there and a link between them were established and can feed into the main story just fine, but I think those could have been established in less space.

Maybe this will make eventual twists more vibrant? It was fine for what it was, I’m just not a fan of what it was.

8 - Guardians of the Galaxy #16 (last issue - 1 out of 5 books)
Wherein various members of the Guardians of the Galaxy get their grooves back. Venom and his special bond with the symbiote. Drax with his challenge finally answered. Gamora with a warrior-sister bond. And Peter Quill, the Star Lord by...exposing a space dictator as someone who doesn’t much like his family?

It’s kind of a reach as a plot point, and it really cast a bad shadow over the rest of what’s been a very enjoyable story.

7 - Original Sin #3.1 (last issue - n/a)
Standard reworking of an origin story to more closely link two characters, one of whom did an oopsie because of the drink (probably) which has led to some punching that’s totally earned. I’m trusting Waid and Gillen have a more interesting destination for this than currently seems in play.

6 - Ms Marvel #5 (last issue - 2 out of 5 books)
Points added for Kamala learning a life lesson that directly applies to her superheroing life. Points deducted for the thing where a hero leaves someone in peril while they montage train and time doesn’t seem to have passed at all with the imperiled party.

5 - Rachel Rising #26 (last issue - 3 out of 7 books)
This reset is so big it needed two issues. We’re re-establishing this book to be about a reincarnated witch, her friends and family, and the possibly evil and definitely ancient child who lives with them. Moving full tilt in that direction, we find Zoe’s old mentor is not as dead as we’d once liked, and Rachel has an unnatural attraction to the history of Satan’s sword. All interesting stuff, but a large reshuffling of the deck.

4 - Thor: God of Thunder #23 (last issue - 7 out of 11 books)
Thor scores some pyrrhic victories in the present and in the past, and it’s an interesting route to take because Aaron suggests in each that Thor loses a piece of himself with each claimed victory, but then shows how deep those wounds go. We’re on the way to seeing a god who is unworthy, and announcements and rumors swirling about the consequences are interesting.

The two eras seem to stand in stark contrast. Old Thor becoming a destroyer by choice and our Present Thor left to see destruction that isn’t his doing. Until you think of where this story started, and where the hubris really is. Aarron is just working on some next-level stuff that isn’t immediately apparent.

3 - Saga #20 (last issue - 6 out of 11 books)
There are a lot of characters going a long way to avoid some responsibility. In some cases, there’s the easily relatable story of Marko enrolling his daughter in dance classes to escape raising his child. For Alana, she’s participating in the very thing that prevents others from facing the responsibilities of the real world. We’re seeing the consequences of those actions slowly weave themselves into the story.

For a more immediate consequence, though, we look to our opening pages, where Prince Robot IV has been driven away, ditching the responsibility to his new family. The consequences there are pretty brutal, even as his distractions don’t seem to be enough.

2 - Stray Bullets: The Killers #4 (last issue - 2 out of 5 books)
David Lapham has gone out of his way to show us how fragile his characters are, but none moreso than a lovesick boy who’s afraid he’s overachieved romantically even as everyone around him tries to convince him otherwise. It’s a real teenage drama, but with that dark twist that leaves a lot of emotional honesty and really brings to light those early years when everything was the most important thing that ever happened to anyone.

1 - Amazing Spider-Man #3 (last issue - 3 out of 6 books)
Dan Slott’s spinning plate dance is amazingly entertaining this issue. Pushing Felicia’s new anger at the Spider and placing it against a Peter Parker who has to invoke the fear of his Ockterman days to keep from fighting a former lover and ally. It’s clever and fun, while still showing how deep Peter finds himself in Ock’s mess.

That includes back at work, where his partners want to keep the old fires burning, and in his personal life as Peter Parker, where he comes to grips with MJ’s moving on from the chaos that follows him.

Oh, and Ezekiel is around, too. In one form or another. I know there are a lot of bad vibes out there where this character is concerned, but given what’s around the corner, it seems pretty exciting to me.

Friday, July 11, 2014

funnybook of the week: June 18th, 2014

The bottom is bad. The top is good. But the bottom is very, very bad.

7 - Fatale #23 (last issue - 9 out of 10 books)
I’m not sure why, but I just read an issue where Jo fucks Nick so he can learn her secret origin and messed up familial history mid orgasm. Okay.

6 - Ultimate FF #3 (last issue - 9 out of 11 books)
Oh cool. We’re doing the Magneto in New X-Men excuse of “it wasn’t me” and appear to be leaving it at that. Well. There’s one hook this story had that I’m no longer that interested in at all (unless we’re going to explore why a DOOM stand-in decided to Ultimatum everyone to death, and we’re probably not going to do that within the mission statement of this book).

Then there were what I would have sworn were jump cuts if this were a movie, Sue Storm allowing large scale genocide, and a betrayal that was entirely ignored two panels later.

The only thing that saved this was occasionally charming dialogue. But this was a mess.

5 - Red Sonja #10 (last issue - 1 out of 10 books)
I appreciate Gail Simone trying to turn what I understand to be a troubling “you can bed me if you can beat me” trait traditionally assigned to Sonja directly on its ear. Especially given our hero’s frustrations throughout this story.

But the rest of the story, that of Sonja finding that she fights only when it counts for life and death after being humiliated by a confident dandy, kind of lost me for this issue.

4 - Original Sin #4 (last issue - 5 out of 7 books)
While everyone on earth deals with their “original sins,” the mysterious boss’ teams all meet up to discuss how they don’t trust each other, dead monsters, and the finer points of dead monsters and beheaded Nick Furies. It would have been tedious, but the Orb has supplied enough levity get us through the posturing and crossover-standard misunderstanding superhero fighting issue relatively pain-free.

3 - Elektra #3 (last issue - 1 out of 11 books)
Our villain has been oddly parallelling Elektra for the short duration of this series. On the last page, with each confronted with their first kills, we take that to a new, darker place. Their very beginnings (some more literally than others) exist to challenge them to re-examine who they are.

Of course, all of that is more than the last panel. Del Mundo is doing a great job making those parallels visual as well as thematic. While Blackmon deftly adds broken families into the mix via a target’s son.

2 - The Wicked + The Divine #1 (last issue - n/a)
The old gods come to earth every once and again and enjoy their celebrity, but eventually have to give it up and die for a bit. That’s the basic gimmick here, and that alone could be fascinating enough from this particular creative team.

However, the introduction of a real through character that’s a fan (something that any and all of us can entirely relate to) who gets pulled into the world just as things get more complicated than our Lucy would like? That’s the hook that really makes it stand out.

1 - Captain Marvel #4 (last issue - 1 out of 5 books)

In over her head, Carol Danvers has to convince an entire race to not only help themselves, but she has to make them believe they’re even capable of it. That’s, of course, a little more difficult when you’ve got space pirates and an aggressive Spartax king exacerbating the situation.

Kelly Sue DeConnick nails it again, though, assembling a fun bunch of misfits to be the last hope of a doomed people and dragging us, through Captain Marvel’s confidence in them, to believe as well.

Monday, June 30, 2014

funnybook of the week: June 4th, 2014

Bet you thought I'd skipped a week....

7 - Superior Foes of Spider-Man #12 (last issue - 5 out of 5 books)

Look at this! No fill in story! The resumption of the actual story I was paying to read! There’s a jokey reference to the 2 useless issues we had to endure right at the top of the story that, honestly, is a little off-putting.

But we’re here now, and the laughs are still in place. It seems a little too winky all of a sudden, though. We’re re-upping on the original heist, and then going back to the original twist, and I don’t know if this is supposed to be “ha ha they never learn” or what, but oof.

6 - Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man #2 (last issue - 5 out of 10 books)

Peter Parker and Miles Morales have a little talk, and it doesn’t go nearly as well as the last time a Peter Parker had a talk with Miles Morales. Both in terms of the actual text of that conversation and the execution. Miles invokes May and Peter’s loved ones, and Peter responds by being off-putting and dodgy, feeling he owes Miles nothing.

We don’t know if this oddness is due to clones (a good guess from Miles) or something else that keeps Peter from being Peter, but I really feel like this is the big sort of character moment that Bendis normally excels with and he just missed the mark here.

5 - Original Sin #3 (last issue - 4 out of 11 books)

The business picks up, and I like the twist at the end, which I feel like is entirely in line with a character who has been burdened and defined by secrets for so long. The rest of the larger plot continues to unfold like a grand mystery with Deodato adding mood in his best art since Thunderbolts.

I wish we could have gotten a better glimpse at the results of the literal truth bomb that was just dropped, but I suppose that’s what tie-ins are for.

4 - Moon Knight #4 (last issue - 10 out of 10 books)

I’ll tell you when the abrupt ending to a one-in-done story does work. That’s when it kind of serves as the, for lack of a better word, punchline to the issue. This script is tight, giving us all we need to know (and a scene at Odinburger for good measure) to really enjoy what we’re reading.

Like last issue’s horror movie in 20 pages, but better, because it felt like it had a real emotional core with our good doctor trying to do what he thought was best only to find the wheel turn on everyone, especially us. This is what I was hoping for after the first issue.

3 - Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #3 (last issue - 6 out of 10 books)

“Be careful what you wish for” neatly sums up the theme of this issue. We revisit young Danny Rand, fueled by anger and hate towards his eventual decision to turn down immortality for revenge. Of course, as the story goes, once he finds the object of his anger, he cannot enact the revenge he so seeks because his adversary is already broken down.

This issue sees a seething Danny looking to find answers about the burning down of his home and the loss of another father, once again focusing hate and rage to enact a vengeance that turns out to be far more complicated than what he’d been hoping for. The more things change...

2 - Nailbiter #2 (last issue - 2 out of 11 books)

No one likes the guy who comes to town and makes the same joke as everyone else. It’d be like going to Milwaukee and thinking you were the first person to ever sing the Laverne and Shirley theme until you were blue in the face. Yet that’s exactly what our hero does, making a few lighthearted jokes about the likelyhood that anyone in this town could be a serial killer. Subtextually, though, no one likes this one because it could be true.

There’s a killer out there, and whether it’s actually the Nailbiter himself pulling the strings or not, the physical menace is certainly a new one for our infamous town. As pasts get peeled away, we get to some very pointed moments and I like how this title is speeding up.

1 - Sheltered #9 (last issue - 6 out of 10 books)

And now Sheltered takes on a different meaning. The meaning of those kids who are raised so “protected” from the real world that reality is no longer an option. And that’s where we find our group of kids. Their leader shamed and outed as a fraud, they still cannot bring themselves to believe in the larger truth because of what it would mean about them. Lucas can continue to be Lucas because if he stopped being Lucas what would they be?

In the meantime, the fact that these are just children with very little actual sense is emphasized beyond repair as one intrepid solar panel delivery guy tries to make his escape. Great issue.

Friday, June 27, 2014

funnybook of the week: June 11th, 2014

It’s never great when the last place book was more awful than the first place book was good.

6 - Red City #1 (last issue - n/a)

Here’s the thing, if you’re going to do film noir with a character that’s more Ash from the Army of Darkness than the prototypical gumshoe? That character has to be charming and funny. Because if he cracks wise for the whole issue, lowering the stakes to the point that the reader doesn’t care because the central character doesn’t care, and he’s not funny or charming?

You get Red City, one of the worst books I’ve ever read.

5 - Sixth Gun #41 (last issue - 7 out of 10 books)

The secret origins of the Grey Witch, what she wants, and her connection to the Six. Not a ton of new territory, but it’s a nice bit of weaving mythologies.

4 - Hulk #4 (last issue - 8 out of 11 books)

This is another example of how there’s a story here that needed room to breathe. A lot happens here, and we discard one life-altering change for Bruce for another very different one. I’m equally thrilled for this second one, but there’s a lot that could have been done with Bruce’s injury, the rage still inside him, and the fact that each turn to the Hulk was making it worse before they went here.

This could have been spread out over 12 issues easily.

3 - Amazing Spider-Man #1.2 (last issue - 11 out of 11 books)

The secret origin of Spider-Man goes on, and Dan Slott really goes to great lengths to show us what kind of snot Peter Parker was while he was dealing with a rapidly changing situation in his life. You know, like a teenager would be.

The snottier Clash actually has a gripe, born out of one bad moment in a young and frustrated Teenage Peter’s life. That’s nice weaving. Although the retro-style art doesn’t quite jive with the webcasts and smart phones Slott is trying to weave into the origin.

2 - All-New Ultiamtes #3 (last issue - 4 out of 5 books)

I honestly can’t tell you why I liked this issue so much. Narratively, the structure seemed off, like two issues were abbreviated and then smashed together (rumors of yet another Ultiamate Universe Overhaul may have something to do with this). We didn’t get to really see Jess struggle with being drugged or Miles talk Bombshell into playing her part.

What I do love, though, is that we’re continuing to get this team portrayed as a group of kids trying to take the place of a world-saving group and struggling to take down a street gang. It works. The mistakes they make, the goo-goo eyes being made at the wrong people for the wrong reasons, and the fondness they develop for one another as they suffer through it.

Okay, I guess I can tell you why I liked this. Well, all of that and the ending on a panel with a cheesy joke that would make the characters but not the reader laugh. That just feels old school and delightful.

1 - She-Hulk #5 (last issue - 2 out of 10 books)

There’s a comic timing to this comic that’s been going under appreciated. There are beats as things occur to characters and you can actually feel the rhythm of the jokes. That’s all really fun and fantastic. There’s also a great use of The Shocker, in line with his “Deadly/Superior Foes” persona, that give some incredible one-liners (“They’re all Thors").

Which is good because the underlying plot seems a little underwhelming. This blue file is supposed to be intriguing, but so much of it is shrouded in mystery that it’s hard to tell what exactly the stakes are. Something is mysterious because it’s mysterious. And now it’s mysteriously causing people to lash out. But it’s still too vague.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

funnybook of the week: May 28th, 2014

Four issues of a five-issue week were delayed, so I decided to wait it out rather than give the one book that did make it to me on time the default win. The result would have been the same, either way.

5 - Fantastic Four #5 (last issue - 3 out of 5 books)
Here’s the thing: this was a nice look at what a takedown of a superhero team’s actions would look like in court. We address metatextually that this could happen to any Marvel hero. Any. Of. Them. And then we still play on, up to and including this story calling out its own inconsistencies. I like where it gets us, but that’s about the nicest thing I can say right now.

4 - Southern Bastards #2 (last issue - 1 out of 7 books)
You can ask God a hundred different ways to remove you from a situation, but when you stick around just so you can see the head of the snake and maybe poke at it one last time, just about everything is a sign to stay. Some are more obvious than others. It’s Friday night in the deep south, football’s on, and someone is being told outright that it’s time to fight.

If you read the signs.

3 - Uncanny Avengers #20 (Uncanny Avengers Annual #1 - 6 out of 7 books)
Heavy on action, with plenty of subtle storytelling underneath, the only thing that bumped this issue down this far is how good everything ahead of it is. Remender excels at letting us know he’s still playing the long game, even as he gives us all the booms and bangs of a popcorn action flick.

2 - Ms Marvel (last issue - 3 out of 7 books)
This is probably the most honest portrayal of teenage life in the super hero genre since those early issues of Ultimate Spider-Man that just seemed so refreshing. Kamala gets to make mistakes and learn about what this all means on her terms, with plenty of room for the story to breathe. I really like how organically her supporting cast is folding in, and just want more of this and more often.

1 - Guardians of the Galaxy #15 (last issue - 1 out of 10 books)

If the previous issue was all about how to split the team apart, this issue is all about how to break them. Rocket begging for his life. Drax throwing out challenges he may not be ready for. Gamora being bested physically and reminded of her relationship to Thanos. Venom being “betrayed” by his brothers in arms. Groot being quite literally broken. And Peter Quill, being broken enough to answer to his father’s wishes, only to learn that it may be too late to bargain for the lives of his team, which could break him in a whole other way.

Another really outstanding thematic issue here, Mr. Bendis.

Monday, June 09, 2014

funnybook of the week: May 21st, 2014

11 - Amazing Spider-Man #2 (last issue - 4 out of 10 books)

If I had to pick one thing wrong with this issue, it’s that Anna Maria seems to be very much taking the total upheaval of her life in relative stride. It’s a bold choice, rather than just seeing a total breakdown/revenge deal (Felicia Hardy has that covered, anyway), but it doesn’t read as real human emotion. At least not yet, we’ll see where it goes.

10 - Bunker #4 (last issue - 2 out of 10 books)

We interrupt the action to bring you a moment of personal inventory with Daniel and Natasha. Where they’re relationship is, who Daniel is REALLY concerned about letting down, and how Natasha is coping. All of it in service to the greater narrative, which is about more than the both of them (as is explicitly told us with the subtlety of a brick through the window).

Then things speed right back up as we reunite the characters just in time for a meeting I didn’t think we’d be seeing so suddenly. And yet…

9 - Ultimate FF #2 (last issue - 7 out of 7 books)

On the one hand, there was a lot more continuity heavy-heavy plotting in this issue, which I criticized the last issue for. On the other hand, the pieces where Fialkov does try to rope us into his parsing out of goatleg Victor Van Damme and the DOOM we saw in Ultimatum was really engaging.

Sue Storm fighting off insinuations about her relationships, how many there were, and the general moral fiber of those involved with her gave this another positive nudge. Still a work in progress as a title, but getting there.

8 - Hulk #3 (last issue - 4 out of 7 books)

The Avengers vs. The Abomination in a knockdown drag-out fight that really let Bagley go nuts with the pencils. In the meantime, we see becoming the Hulk actually does more harm than good when it comes to the mind of Bruce Banner. This should have been better than it was.

Whether the impending Original Sin tie-in or Waid’s quick departure from the title is to blame, I think we’ve lost a chance to really play with the idea that becoming the Hulk can have more subtle but still disastrous consequences for Banner, but instead we got it jammed in as exposition and background during an Avengers comic.

7 - Thor: God of Thunder #22 (last issue - 4 out of 7 books)

I’m not sure I understand exactly what’s going on with the Roxxon legal storyline, and how Thor showing up for some good old fashioned fighting or the big bad being revealed to be the Minotaur does for the applicable legal briefs…

But I do dig Aaron’s handle on Thor as a character, including this budding romance with Roz. Good times.

Also, all of the stuff in the future? Still great, including a full circle move on the last page.

6 - Saga #19 (last issue - 4 out of 5 books)

Volume 2 starts as Volume 1 did. With a birth, and a shocking (to some) visual of what that looks like. I know there are technically 3 volumes thus far, but this is by far the new story after the first one had been completely told.

Fugitives on the run, raising their little girl as best they can, with a looming doom hanging over their relationship (quite frankly, I found the last page far more jarring than the first, internet). There’s a sense that “making it work” isn’t good enough for anyone and that presses harder than any lingering Robotic Royalty threats ever could.

5 - Rocket Girl #5 (last issue - 5 out of 9 books)

Dayoung has made her presence felt in the past (er, present, but still 1986, so bear with us), and now we know that she’s more important than the jetpack. In a very Terminator sort of time-travel twist, we see her make last gasps to change her future, but to what end?

Smart, still charming, but I am saddened at the possibility that our team of kid cops of the future may not exist anymore. Then again, J0$UA probably is still on the board with all the rest of them.

4 - Original Sin #2 (last issue - 8 out of 10 books)

This is better. The murder mystery plays as a real mystery-within-a-mystery. One set of shadowy figures revealed, but the nature of the game still in a cloud as the heroes converge to put an end to it (but it’s only issue #2, so things are just getting started).

Classic Nick Fury being classic. Spider-Man getting the jokes in. Science bromance between Banner and Stark. Just some wonderful beats in this issue, but none moreso than the uneasy alliance between Dr. Strange and the Punisher (the former of whom was taken off the board by Aaron for obvious reasons, but did the shadowy “boss” also do it on purpose?).

3 - Powers Bureau #10 (last issue - 8 out of 11 books)

Bendis pushes the “Jessica Fletcher” theory on Walker, whereupon one assumes that if people are always dying around a character, maybe the character is to blame for it more than said character would like to admit. Combine that with whatever Deena’s got hiding, and Bendis really flushes the drama out of this issue with a blindingly simple series of moves.

2 - Nailbiter #1 (last issue - n/a)

This is something. A little bit of Bedlam, with a central question being about the things that can drive someone not just to murder, but to systematically do so. It goes a bit further, borrowing another bit from Bedlam in the final page. But this is still it’s own thing as well.

This is a mystery. There’s a missing friend. A checkered past. And something specific within a town known for breeding serial killers. The hook is here, and it’s strong, but the characters are just as strong.

1 - Elektra #2 (last issue - 4 out of 10 books)

Blackmon and Del Mundo want another dance of death, this time with Lady Bullseye, to feel both like poetry and the mundane. Why is simply in Elektra's thoughts on Crow's retirement. The life he changed and gave away, allegedly, could be hers.

If she truly wants it. And that’s what they’re pushing here. Elektra sets out in the previous issue to embrace that she’ll always be someone’s killer (as opposed to victim/girlfriend/reanimated ninja)...but Blackmon is slyly asking her in this story to consider being her own someone.

For this character, that’s long overdue.