This Week In Comics: 6/20/2012

This week in comics, Avengers Vs. X-Men finally gets a little life in it, Northstar gets real married, and Saga returns to save us all from mediocrity.  Enjoy!

Astonishing X-Men #51

Astonishing X-Men #50 was not a very good comic. Neither is Astonishing X-Men #51.  They are important comics, to be sure, comics that are saying a good thing – but they are saying it badly.  I’m glad it happened, I just wish Northstar and Kyle got the story they deserved, rather than the event that was most easily marketed.  (C-. Marvel Comics, $3.99)

Avengers Vs. X-Men #6

THIS is what issue number two should have been. Or, if they were ambitious, issue #1.  But while slack plotting and lackluster fights have turned Avengers Vs. X-Men into a fairly bad title, this week’s release steps it up in a big way.  Empowered now by the Phoenix, the X-Men have remade the world into a utopia – a genuine one.  Even some of the Avengers have admitted it. But hazy visions of the future and a frustration at the waste to American tax dollars – because now they give a shit about that – prompt them to invade Utopia and try to kidnap Hope.  Of course, because this is mainstream comics, they can’t let an interesting change like this last too long, so expect the X-Men to turn into evil tyrants and then get knocked back by the heroic American heroes. And Wolverine.  Anyway, though, this issue was very good, a huge improvement for a lackluster series.  (A-. Marvel Comics, $3.99)

Before Watchmen: Comedian #1 (of 6)

This was… okay.  I suspect this was the kind of thing a lot of people feared the whole “Before Watchmen” project would be – essentially, continuity fanwank.  Following the Comedian, who is close friends with the Kennedy family, the book can’t help but have him get caught up with a number of conspiracy theories – most notably, the Kennedy Assassination.  The ending with Moloch has some power and Jones’ art is pretty good (though nowhere near his best), but shoddy dialogue and a relatively lackluster premise don’t give me a lot of confidence in this title. (C. DC Comics, $3.99)

Catwoman #10

Easy-to-predict twist involving new beau Spark aside, Catwoman #10 was a reasonably solid issue that finally took us a little further into the kidnappings we’ve been seeing for the last few months.  It turns out Catwoman has been investigating – foregoing her normal crime in favor of stalking the streets searching for the missing hookers – and this week, she catches a break… almost.  But we catch a much bigger one, finding a whole operation that’s doing something to these young folks, though what, precisely, remains a mystery.  Outside of a couple art flubs – one involving an anatomically impossible-to-execute kick that just looks silly – this was a solid entry in what is fast becoming a solid-but-predictable title for DC… which is disappointing, given how thrilling its earliest issues were.  (B. DC Comics, $2.99)

Daredevil #14

Waid was clever in moving beyond the Omega Drive story – the pending gang war was interesting, but he needed a new hook – and he was doubly-clever in attaching the newest arc to its conclusion. Kidnapped by Doctor Doom, Daredevil is being held in Latveria as punishment for messing up their interests in America with the Drive.  Murdock’s punishment is cleverly executed, ending in a pretty fantastic twist.  Solid art helps keep the story moving, and Waid’s Daredevil remains one of Marvel’s most consistently excellent properties. (A-. Marvel Comics, $2.99)

DC Universe Presents #10 (Part 2 of “Savage”)

The “Silence of the Lambs” knock-off arc “Savage” continues, though its superheroic action beats late in the issue obviously distinguish it somewhat.  I like Vandal Savage here, though he’s nowhere near as entertaining as he is in Demon Knights, and Kass at least has something of a hook as a lead… though this issue undermines her supposed hypercompetence considerably.  Bernard Chang’s art is solid.  The villain design is bad, but the ideas at play are neat.  But, ultimately, the story still isn’t really coming together in any meaningful way with regards to the characters motivations, their place in the universe or even the way the action plays out.  There’s still room to grow, though, so this just may be the case of a weak middle act to the story.  (B. DC Comics, $2.99)

Saga #4

If it was within my power to force all of you to be reading one of the books on this week’s list, it would almost certainly be Saga.  Though the book is still very much in the ‘worldbuilding’ phase of its storytelling – this week, we travel to the supremely bizarre Sextillion and learn more about Marko’s past – but I honestly don’t much care.  The character beats are solid, relatable and honest, the dialogue flows well and gets laughs, and, of course, there’s the art.  I sincerely hope Fiona Staples stays with the title as long as it runs, but when it does end, she’s shown that she can work with the best of them – this is unimpeachably fantastic work. (A. Image Comics, $2.99)

The Unwritten #38

“The Wound” continues to do a good job at building upon the recent, seemingly-climactic “War of the Words” – and all without giving series lead Tom Taylor even a single page.  The investigation into the cult that’s sprung up around Tom is neat, as is the last page twist that brings to mind a similar, equally effective moment from 30+ issues back.  Carey and Gross know this world, this story and these characters inside and out, and that’s part of why they’ve been able to keep The Unwritten standing tall as one of Vertigo’s finest modern works. (B+. Vertigo, $2.99)

Wonder Woman #10

I’m still left uncertain as to how I feel about this title.  There’s a lot about the content of the book that I think works very well – the ideas and themes are, in many ways, classic Wonder Woman, albeit with a gritty twist – but Azzarello’s dialogue remains impossibly clumsy, the plotting is fairly shoddy and Kano & Akins just can’t stand up to Chiang’s standards on art.  I actually like Azzarello’s take on a lot of the Greek myth characters and the supporting cast is a lot of fun, but there’s a fundamental disconnect deep within the book that is becoming more visible.  (B-. DC Comics, $2.99)

read/RANT

Last week in comics

5 Responses to This Week In Comics: 6/20/2012

  1. Ywz says:

    This was my least favorite wonder woman issue yet. This arc In my opinion has really dragged what I felt was a entertainingly book if uninspired and has made it dreadful. Going forward it might get better but the plotting as you noticed is just spiraling away

    • Cal C. says:

      It seems like every issue, he gets something new right and something new wrong. This issue was the first time the character really FELT like the old Wonder Woman, but this was also the most shoddily-plotted issue to date. I keep sticking with it because it’s just intriguing enough that I think it’ll get better, and it keeps just barely not. It’s kind of baffling, actually. I can’t think of another series in comics history that has kept me this confused about how I feel for this long.

  2. xxadverbxx says:

    Can’t deny that both the AvX titles have been mostly lack luster (with only a few gem parts). I do say I hope you’re wrong. For one, while not quite the ‘heroes’ as the Avengers (at least as seen by America 616), I hope things don’t end up like you put it. It would most likely end in a giant step back for mutant kind if that were to happen after all. To keep this utopia planet thing going though sounds highly unlikely for a comic unless they plan to pull a New 52 on us and just ignore it all, so I’m at least hoping Scott and the others will gain their senses when things go south and stand with the Avengers at that point.

    • Cal C. says:

      I’m so cynical about Marvel events at this point, I can’t help it. The idea here – the X-Men fix the world, but they do it through fascist means – is an interesting one, but Civil War was conceptually interesting too, and I suspect this will end the same way: pandering, half-hearted sermonizing, and limp action following the irrational demonization of one side of the struggle.

      There’s an interesting story buried here, but I don’t have faith that it will be the story they actually tell.

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