I read 12 comics in January, and these were the best.
I read 12 comics in January, and these were the best.
Damn it. I’m late again. I read 27 comics in August, and these were the best.
Better late than never, eh? This is my list for the top ten stories of 2009! Woo hoo! Now, before we get to all the fun of me voicing my opinions and you disagreeing with them, I have to get a few rules out of the way.
1. These are the top ten stories/arcs/whatever. Not comic in general, not trade, but best stories (What can I say, I’m trying to be somewhat unique).
2. These are stories that ended in 2009. They could begin at any time, but as long as they concluded in 2009, they’re eligible.
3. I tried to keep the list as diverse and reader-friendly as possible. I love certain writers, but it would be boring if it was three Morrison books, two Kirkman books, etc. So, a writer/artist will only appear once on the list. I tried to spread the love evenly. You will see Marvel, DC, and even indies on this list.
Wow, with all those rules, how did I come up with a great top ten? Well, I hope I did. Anyway, let’s begin the fun!
I read 17 comics in January, and these were the best.
I read 19 comics in November, and these were the best.
5. Astonishing X-Men #32
Yeah, that’s a badass sentinel, a badass, brood-shooting-from-fingertips sentinel, the bastardization of Beast’s theoretical research. It’s Ellis being Ellis, writing pitch-perfect X-Men. Each issue is episodic, building a plot as it goes. This chapter involves the aforementioned sentinel, with lines like, “We don’t need weapons. We have science!” It’s glorious fun.
4. Fantastic Four #573
Hickman’s Fantastic Four is even better than his Secret Warriors? How’d that happen? But it’s true, even when Dale Eaglesham takes a break, and we’re left with a “filler” issue. Neil Edwards fills Dale’s shoes, and it’s a fine fit, with Edwards’ post-Bryan Hitch style and Paul Mounts’ colors, you’ll hardly notice the difference. But Hickman’s distinguished voice is the star here, penning a done-in-one adventure that could’ve easily sustained a four-issue arc. Hickman plays with, and adds to, Millar’s toys, exploring a black hole-ravaged Nu-World. This is a dense, grand adventure, and the new letters page, hosted by Franklin and Val? Absolutely adorable.
3. Invincible #68
The regular art team is back with a vengeance, allowed the opportunity to create Kirkman’s zany, new Dinosaur villain. This is about as playful and unique as villain dialogue gets. Kirkman then continues to show off his dialogue skills when he gives Atom Eve’s father the scariest monologue Mark could ever imagine, concluding with one hell of a funny sight gag. The issue concludes with a few classic Kirkman twists. All in all, this is one hell of an Invincible issue.
2. Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #8
Another Hellboy chapter concludes, and Alice sums it up best, “Well, I didn’t see that coming.” Mignola embraces Hellboy’s entire mythology here, Alice herself being the baby from the beloved “Hellboy: The Corpse.” What occurs within these pages has been a long time coming, and it unfolds unpredictably, yet resolves with the doomed conclusion we all knew was coming. Every major Hellboy player progresses, even poor Gruagach, who’s almost as tragic a character as “Big Red” himself. A stunning effort from Mignola and Fegredo.
1. Detective Comics #859
Since Rucka & Williams’ run began, almost every issue of Detective Comics has made my “Best of the Month” list. This issue is the best of the run, so it’s only natural that Detective finally tops my list. We’re still taking a trip down Kate’s memory lane, this issue containing another episode of her life. We learn of Kate’s rise and fall at West Point, her utter loss of purpose, how that leads to trouble with the love of her life, and what finally makes Kate’s life whole again. And there, making it all epic poetry, is Williams and Stewart. And as you can see in the above scan, when Kate’s Mazzucchelli-styled life clashes with Batman’s rich, painted aura, it’s beautiful and profound.
Ultimate Fantastic Four #59 (***)
It’s depressing to read this book and write about it. This should’ve ended after Millar left. The story is average and the art is average. But I don’t blame the creative team much. This is another Ultimatum tie-in, but again you don’t have to read it. The only important thing that MIGHT happen next issue is that Johnny comes back. But who didn’t see that coming? This series is just wandering around waiting to die. The trigger is pulled next issue and sadly, I’ll be there.
Conan the Cimmerian #6 (***1/2)
Wow! Not much happened, that’s a first for this book. This is one of those middle of the arc issues and for some reason, it’s taking place in the penultimate chapter. I don’t know why. It was still fine enough. Conan is back home. He sees his mom again. He spends some quality time with the girl he lost his virginity to. The stage is set for next issue. Even the Connacht story is mostly uneventful. Oh well, the writing and art is handled well enough that this didn’t bother me. And if I was reading this in trade, the fact that not much happened wouldn’t have even crossed my mind.
Walking Dead #56 (****) SPOILERS!
Has it really been five years? Good job, Kirkman! Anyway, I called it. Maggie is alive, baby! I’m a little bumbed, but Kirkman made it work. That’s what this issue is about. What happens when people think Maggie is dead? Tensions rise between the new and old groups and we continue to explore Abraham’s character. The big reveal is something we pretty much guessed already. This issue isn’t bad of course, but I have to tell you something, right? Here, I’ll end on a positive note. The last issue came out three weeks ago! Keep the less than monthly schedule coming, Kirkman!
These are books I dread. I have to buy them, but they usually suck!
Uncanny X-Men #504 (***1/2)
Bring on the women! Bring on Terry and Rachael Dodson! Oh yeah! But in all seriousness, has Brubaker left this book? Is this is the end of Fracker?! I thought I read that Fraction was going to write the first three with Land and then Brubaker was going to write the next three with Dodson and so on. Brubaker and Fraction were credited writers are those first three issues, but Brubaker isn’t on there at all anymore. And come to think of it, Brubaker hasn’t talked about this book has he? Fraction seems to be doing all the interviews. So does anyone know what’s going on? Anyway, how was this issue? Let me break it down:
The Crap: Stop trying to be so original and edgy! Now you’re trying to gradually break up Scott and Emma?! You are not Morrison! Yes, Morrison’s run was awesome but let’s move on X writers! I won’t say that Morrison’s run is untouchable, but you certainly aren’t going to surpass him by building on or copying his stuff! Can’t Uncanny just be a lot of fun and leave the seriousness to Astonishing and even X-Force?
The Awesome: So many pretty women. Fraction definitely knows who his artists are. Terry and Rachael are masters of the cheesecake. I loved Scott’s mind. I would think his head would be boring but it was really intriguing. That Dr. Nemesis dude was pretty cool. And I will admit that the finale was interesting. I actually do care about what comes next.
Punisher War Journal #25 (***1/2)
Wow this was actually good! Well, kind of. It finally has the Secret Invasion tag (It was absent last ish) which is funny because this one isn’t really about the Skrulls. Oh sure they’re there, but this story is really about Frank and Clarke. And I suppose that’s what Punisher War Journal was all about. With one issue left to go, we can finally realize that. Frank and Clarke hooked up in the first issue (I think) and they were buds. Then Frank killed Clarke’s girl due to that damn hate ray. So of course Clarke found out and amongst all the Skrull chaos this gets resolved, kind of. I did like this issue, but it’s a bit weird that probably the most important moment in the series takes place in a tie-in. Those new readers are going to be clueless. Anyway, this was a good issue that included emotionality, goofy Skrulls, and awesome sniper Skrulls. Even Chaykin did a good job, kind of. But that last page left a bad taste in my mouth. C’mon Fraction! One issue left! Make it good!
Ultimate Fantastic Four #58 (***)
My God…UFF is readable again. Is that possible? I’m sorry Mike Carey fans but his run was horrible. Pokaski has the unenviable task of picking up the pieces and apparently dealing with the death of the series. Does that surprise anyone? Is anyone even reading this book anymore? Anyway, this is actually an Ultimatum tie-in, but you don’t need to read it. It’s just about what’s going on with Thing and Invisible Woman while Reed does his thing. Oh and Dr. Storm is dead I guess but Johnny is missing. Again, does that surprise anyone? Bottom line, this is an average issue and this series is really just waiting for the abattoir. But I do want to make one thing clear, Pokaski is a good writer. He makes the most of what he has and it will be interesting to see what he will do when he isn’t forced to write tie-ins.
Recently in the comments section of this post, I brazenly asserted that Batman, by Grant Morrison & Tony Daniel, fails as a monthly comic reading experience. Basically, I feel the plot is too convoluted or complex for easy monthly digestion, although I’m sure it’ll go down very easy in trade.
So, what makes a good monthly comic? A couple of things:
Comics that put “character” first!
Comics that tend to focus more on character than plot are inherently more readable as monthlies. When jumping into the middle of a six issue arc, its character that pulls you in and fills in the holes. With the exception of Fantastic Four, every comic on my list stars a single character.
“Done-in-One (or two)” Stories!
There’s no need to wait for the trade if each arc is only 1-2 issues long, right? Again, this type of story goes well with character writing. Since the plot isn’t required to sustain itself for 3-6 issues, it can be pared down and used primarily as a vehicle to reveal the titular hero’s character. Batman and Zatanna team up to stop the Joker!?! Reading that story you find that it’s not really about catching the Joker as much as it’s about developing Bruce and Zatanna’s relationship. Also, without really sacrificing the overall plot, these “done-in-one” stories can be framed like TV episodes that when viewed over an entire season combine to reveal a hidden master plot. Think Buffy, Heroes, etc… As many of us know, it can be very intimidating for a new reader to jump onto a book with a long running story, so hiding the plot in this manner is a great way to eliminate that intimidation factor. It also allows the writer to integrate sub-plots with clearly defined conflicts into the background that can be slowly developed and brought to the forefront at a later date, as Mark Millar does in Fantastic Four.
Cliffhangers that punch you in the face!
I mean, does this one really need explanation? There are quite a few comics (many on this list) that use the “final page splash” to great effect in almost every single issue. The rush you get from experiencing these in a floppy is much different than when experiencing them in a trade. Actually, it doesn’t even come close.
Getting that “OMG I can’t wait for next month!” Soap Opera feeling!
Of the four I’ve listed here, I think this last one is probably the most important (although it is very closely related to the Cliffhanger thing). For me, it’s the most important factor in deciding whether or not to wait for the trade. I ask myself, as many of you probably do, “Can I go more than a month without reading about BLANK?!?” If you answer “NO!”, then you obviously have a great monthly in your hands!
With the pretentious explanations out of the way I present to you, in no particular order, my “Top Ten Comics That Work Best as Monthlies”:
ACTION COMICS by Geoff Johns & Gary Frank
I could NEVER read this comic in trade; I just love the characters too much! And the cliffhangers are the epitome of punch you in the face. There haven’t been many done-in-ones in the Johns run, but that’s okay, since at least half the comics on this list barely utilize that comic book storytelling device. But Johns does love the sub-plots, wherein he writes some of the best (or, THE best) character moments in comics. CONS: More done-in-ones would be nice.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN by “The Spidey Brain Trust”
With the exception of the current arc, “New Ways To Die”, Brand New Day has been nothing but 1-, 2-, and 3-issue arcs filled with character, character, character… the Soap Opera mojo has been strong. Because of the weekly shipping schedule, the Spidey team has been using the last page splash to great effect. CONS: Actually, maybe there are too many characters? Sometimes it gets confusing.
CAPTAIN AMERICA by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting & Luke Ross
All of the above? Without all the little Bucky character stuff, I would not be enjoying this book as much as I am. It’s funny, but to me, most issues of Captain America feel like single issue stories set in an epic tapestry whose true significance won’t be seen ‘til Brubaker ends his run. It’s one long, ongoing story that excites me month in and month out.
DEADPOOL by Daniel Way & Paco Medina
We’re two issues in and I’m in love. For now. Plot? What plot? If you’re looking for a story, you’re in the wrong place, duder. This is all about Deadpool. That’s it. Do you need to read issue one to understand issue two? Hell no! Enjoy the funny!
DETECTIVE COMICS by Paul Dini & Dustin Nguyen
Current master of the 1- or 2-part story (yeah, yeah, I know the RIP tie-in breaks the rules). Reading Detective for the last two years I remember more about Bruce sex life (obv lack thereof) than I do the details of any of the stories. And to me, that’s awesome writing. Dini has made Bruce likable. This is new, folks. Bruce Wayne as an actual character in comics? Not since pre-DKR, I would think, have we seen the identity of Bruce Wayne written as a real character. Ah no, I disagree with you, Morrison’s Wayne is a flimsy piece of cardboard. Maybe he had something at the beginning of his run, but fleshing out Batman’s alter ego took a back seat to RIP setup long ago, maybe around the time Adam Kubert left the book. Anyway, yes, Dini isn’t writing Batman, he’s writing Bruce Wayne as Batman. And there is a difference, and that difference is quite refreshing.
FANTASTIC FOUR by Mark Millar & Bryan Hitch
The character stuff is lacking, but the sub-plots, cliffhangers and OMG moments make this a top of the stack must-read. Here’s a recent review that reads more negative than it actually is.
GRAVEL by Warren Ellis, Mike Wolfer & Raulo Caceres
The way the current arc is framed, it works wonderfully as a series of single issue stories filled with scenes exploring the character of William Gravel. Oh, you know what? Thank God Ellis finally got around to fleshing this guy out. Gravel started life as a boringly hollow SAS thug who starred in a series of idea-driven minis. In those minis, there was never anything particularly exciting or compelling about the Gravel character and the fact of the matter is, I probably only read them because they were written by Ellis. Now, under the watchful eye of Mike Wolfer, I really grown to like this guy and each month I can’t wait to read Gravel’s next adventure. Shocking. That’s good stuff, brother.
HULK by Jeph Loeb & Ed McGuinness
Heh. I really do love this book. Honest. HA!
INVINCIBLE by Robert Kirkman & Cory Walker
Ever since the #51 reboot, this book has been one of the most anticipated monthlies in my stack. LOVING IT… happy now, Bruce?
JACK OF FABLES by Matthew Sturges & Bill Willingham
Awesome title character? CHECK!
Outstanding sub-plots? CHECK!
SOAP OPERA?!? TRIPLE CHECK!!!
I’ve warmed up to this run (I’m actually really enjoying its throwback style), but that doesn’t mean I can’t see the flaws. Take this issue for instance, logic errors abound!
It’s 500 years in the future and Hulk (Millar) would have us believe that it’s far easier to build a super time machine to send eight billion people to the past than it is to build spaceships to transport those same people off-planet? No. Oh, but this is cool, right? So you wanna go with it? Me too! Let’s see how long those beliefs remain suspended, shall we?
Wait, ethical dilemma, Mr. Ultron? Oh, the irony…
MY, GOD, ROBOT! You’re right! Why didn’t super-smart Hulk think of this?
Well, look how petty the heroes are in the 26th century! But seriously, besides the ethical dilemma, this plan is doomed to failure. Like, if part of the reason the planet fell apart in the first place was overpopulation and the mismanagement of natural resources, then how the hell do you suppose to solve those problems by adding eight billion more mouths to the equation? Logically, this doesn’t make sense. But, whatever. Apparently this question is irrelevant:
Establish a base? HUH?!? I don’t understand this. So, there’s not enough power in the future, but there is in the past? And we’re not talking about hydro-electric, nuclear or coal produced power, we’re talking about the kind of power that comes from the cosmic!
Man, Bryan Hitch loves him some Galactus! Okay, so these New Defenders “mug” the Big G, siphon off his power, shunt a small group into the future, build their base and go about looking for “ultimate” power. Where do they find this power? Oh, you know, they just go out and “mug” this century’s Galactus, break Dr. Doom out of jail and kidnap The Human Torch.
Slow down… in the future, it took the combined might of 170ish New Defenders to tackle Galactus but in our time they manage the same feet with less than six guys? W. T. F. On top of that, how the hell did they even locate Galactus? Where did they obtain the means for space flight? THIS IS SO STUPID!!! IT’S TOO STUPID!!!*
Okay, fine, maybe Millar will explain this next issue and maybe he won’t, I’ll assume they managed it somehow and move on… but then there’s still the matter of Dr. Doom and Human Torch. Why these two? Are we to believe that the combination of these three beings is enough to bring eight billion peeps from the future to the past? Does the math seem wrong to anyone else? Like I could understand it if they’d captured like 50 super heroes, or 100, or 200, but just three? The scale here is wrong.
Um, no! Super heroes don’t kidnap other super heroes and use them like batteries!
Can’t wait for this. That single panel may have redeemed this entire issue for me.
Oh, back to the sub-plots! This is the chick that’s dating Thing. That is her ex-boyfriend. He seems upset. Last panel is great. What’s he gonna do?!?
Okay, so by the end of this issue we discover that this nanny chick is actually Susan Storm from the future and she’s also the mastermind behind this whole “Save the Future” scheme. I scanned these panels to show that yes, Bryan Hitch was playing fair with us the whole time. Looking at these panels side-by-side and it becomes so obvious that these two women are the same person. Just look at that nose! Same nose! Same lips! Bravo, Mr. Hitch.
Ah, just a cool shot to illustrate the talent of Mr. Hitch, although the writing kind of fails here. If this is future Sue, would she really resort to this type of blatant show of force? I mean, wouldn’t she just wrap present Sue’s head in an invisible force field ‘til she passed out? It wouldn’t kill her and the fight would be over in seconds. Also, she wouldn’t have the clues to figure out that nanny lady is actually her from the future. DURF.
…and here is where Millar almost redeems himself. Obviously, Sue has thought about the question I brought up earlier in this review: how can present Earth support the lives of the present and future populations? Um, it can’t. Sue knows this… Sue is going to kill us all!!!
No, Sue. It is YOU that’s embarrassing yourself. OBVIOUSLY, Mr. Fantastic is going to find you! He’s FANTASTIC!!! You should know better, lady.
As a midway point (for the run), this issue works fine. It moves the plot forward (albeit illogically at times) and gets most of the exposition out of the way. I assume next issue will be jammed full of action, suspense and Doom killing Invisible Woman. YAY!
*Or it could be that the Galactus pictured is “future” Galactus. If that’s the case, then that portion of my argument falls apart, but it then raises another equally pressing question: two Big Gs in the same time? PARADOX!!!
One disappointing book and a whole boatload of awesome fit into the eighth installment of Secret Invasion reviews.
New Avengers #42 (*****)
Awesome! Bendis takes one of the biggest questions of Secret Invasion (what the hell is the deal with the Skrull Ship from the Savage Land?) and explains it beautifully. It shows the dedication of the Skrulls, to the point that they’re basically using suicide bombers. The fact that all the Skrulls on the ship are completely and totally convinced that they are the real deal just adds to the madness and confusion, which is exactly why they were sent there in the first place. Skrully Cap refusing to acknowledge his true nature despite having already reverted back to his true form was some powerful stuff. We’ve also got the running background commentary from Spider-Man, and very few people today can write Spider-Man as well as Bendis. The work he has put into building up the Skrull invasion through slowly revealing their machinations and behind the scenes plotting adds an immense amount of enjoyment to the overall story. It’s very subtle and logical storytelling that is perfectly structured in every way.
Avengers: The Initiative #15 (****1/2)
I do enjoy the way that Slott and Gage write 3-D Man here. This is a guy that is certainly in a no win situation. He sees Skrulls as humans and humans as Skrulls, so of course he has no choice but to trust and confide in the exact folks that he shouldn’t. Of course, Crusader is a kind soul, and decides to switch sides and fight against the Skrulls (in a way that is very similar to the end of the Captain Marvel miniseries), and he’s got the added bonus of manipulating the Freedom Ring (made out of a piece of the cosmic cube) so he is one of the few people on Earth that can see through the Skrulls’ disguises. I like the way that the undercurrent of paranoia in the main Secret Invasion books is taken over by the OVERT paranoia of 3-D Man, who’s a guy that is breaking apart at the seams trying to figure out what to do with the false information presented to him. There’s another thing I really like about this (that ends up being a theme of this batch of books), but I’ll get to that during the She-Hulk review later.
Ms. Marvel #29 (****)
Ooooh, baby. I will concede that the first half or so of this book could be considered more of the same. More Ms. Marvel dealing with the Skrull attack on New York. More of her mistreating civilians in a time of war and panic. But she eventually moves on and tries to figure out what’s going on by buzzing by Stark Tower and eventually moving a group of citizens to the Raft for safe keeping, and this is where the issue turns. Something has been going on at the Raft. Whatever that something is, it’s pretty goddamned creepy. I won’t go into it because it’s really the type of glorious WHAT THE FUCK moment that really needs to be experienced freshly and first hand or you lose a lot of the moment. I have no clue what’s coming from the rest of this arc. I also have no clue how this jives with some of the events of Secret Invasion #4, but the timeline is a funny thing, so I’ll give it some more issues to suss itself out.
Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four #3 (**)
Well that was…odd. The opening kid drawing pages were certainly strange, but I have no clue what the writer was thinking in writing the narrative from the perspective of Franklin. It doesn’t read particularly well, and it certainly doesn’t seem to mesh well with what I know of Franklin as a character. There were some good moments, and I like the way the resolved things with Lyja, but this book fell off a bit of a cliff here, and it’s certainly disappointing after the first two issues. Ah well.
Black Panther #39 (*****)
Hoo boy. This one’s a doozy. Hello, Jason Aaron. I’ve never actually read anything by you. Turns out, you’re a pretty sweet writer. Talk about EPIC. So apparently there are two things you don’t do in times of war. You don’t attempt to invade Russia in the winter, and YOU DO NOT FUCK WITH WAKANDA. We follow two different plot strains here, from Black Panther preparing the troops for war to the Skrull captain just trying to get through one more invasion so he can retire to a remote planet and be with his family. Turns out it’s not going to be that easy, as the Wakandans are more than capable of defending themselves. I’m quite impressed with the amount of characterization Aaron manages to give this Skrull captain in such a short period of time. Perhaps the fact that it’s a familiar character trope, but it’s impressive either way. I wouldn’t necessarily put it up there with Hercules or Captain Britain yet, but this was a fantastic read. This book also feeds into what I saw in Avengers: Initiative and She Hulk
Thunderbolts #122 (****)
I’ve never read Thunderbolts before. I think Gage does a great job of operating from the assumption that a lot of folks will be jumping on to Thunderbolts for this arc, so he uses the device of Norman Osborne and Moonstone giving the entire team a psych evaluation to introduce us to the team, one by one. And this is certainly a quirky cast of characters. They fight Swarm (yes, he of the random MTU Sinister Syndicate card), and their odd methods for defeating the enemy leads to the best line of any comic I’ve read so far this month (“Why do you think we haven’t been allowed to go after Daredevil? Or Luke Cage? Perhaps because we can’t stop a Nazi made of bees without eating him, while you hide like a shrieking schoolgirl because you ‘don’t like bugs’!!”). We move on for some pretty creepy shit involving Swordsman (that dude’s got issues. And to stand out like that in a book like this is impressive) leading into Captain Marvel busting stuff up, Secret Invasion #1 style. This is a really entertaining book with some seriously engaging and well defined characters. Good stuff.
She-Hulk #31 (****1/2)
Thank you, Peter David, for taking away the bad taste in my mouth that was X-Factor #33. This is a GREAT issue that introduces a seriously cool concept into the Skrull mythos. The Talisman as a character and as an idea is just super cool. This is some high concept shit that I did not see coming. But here’s what I love about this book that I loved about Black Panther and Avengers: The Initiative. We’re starting to see the chinks in the Skrull armor. 3-D Man can see Skrulls. Darwin has revealed the true nature of The Talisman. Black Panther discovered the Skrull agents in Wakanda and gave them what for before humiliating a Skrull invasion force. Captain Britain is turning the tides in England with the help of Excalibur. We’re starting to see just how the humans might be able to beat back the storm, and none of it is coming from the big guns. It’s the fringes where the Skrull forces are spread out and weak that we’re starting to see the cracks form that could eventually expand and take down the entire fleet. This is FANTASTIC storytelling by everyone at Marvel. You can tell that they’re unified and all working on the same massive puzzle, even if they’re confined to their own little corners. This is what happens when you get everyone on the same page but still give them room to tell their own stories.
Before this issue we get another introduction by Stan Lee. The first story in this issue is a fun one. It has the first appearance of Willie Lumpkin. It is mainly a story to address all the questions and concerns the fans have had about this book. It begins with the FF walking by a newsstand with people buying their comic. That should let you know what you’re in store for. The second story features the first appearance of the Impossible Man! Oh yeah! This is the one you’ve been waiting for! Ok, maybe not. Still, this is marvel’s answer to Mister Mxyzptlk. It’s a fun zany story. Certainly not the best but it’s not the worst either. Overall, this is a good solid issue. We get a pin-up of the Sub-Mariner and the letters column is expanded to two pages.
This is the first time the Thing fights the Hulk! Sadly, it’s not quite as impressive as I thought it would be. Like FF #6, the Fantastic Four take a back seat to a guest hero. This time it’s the Hulk and at this point, he’s not nearly as interesting or as well-written as Namor was. I don’t think Stan Lee was writing that great of a Hulk when this issue came out. Still, the story is certainly intriguing, Kirby’s art is fantastic, and the Thing even beats the Hulk!
And now, The Gooders. These books were the cream of the crop, or as close to it as this bunch got.
• 1985 #2 (****): I’m really liking where this is headed. See, you can’t call me a Millar hater! Some of his stuff is utter garbage, and some of it, when he puts the research and thought in, turns out quite fantastic. Here’s hoping I’m right about this one.
• Conan the Cimmerian #0 (****): Bruce Castle’s review of this was spot on. It was a very, very, VERY good sword and sandal read. Unfortunately, I think I’m done with Conan for now… or, I may pick up the first issue when it ships! I just don’t know!
• Daredevil #108 (****): It just keeps getting better! Dear Greg Rucka, please never leave. No more brooding! No more Mila! No more Emo!
• Fantastic Four #558 (****1/2): This was really good. Really, really good. I can see clearly now what Millar is doing and I love it. The interweaving of the subplots over multiple 4-part story arcs is finally starting to pay off. I haven’t been this excited about reading Fantastic Four since JMS first took over the book. I know I was harsh on the first couple of these, but now that the engine is revving up toward max RPMs, I couldn’t be happier. I just hope he doesn’t blow his load too soon. But, I still think the Galactus suit was a lame idea. OH! Almost forgot, little Val is a genius!
• Ghost Rider # 24 (****): Love the new artist. Love the new direction. If this is what we can expect from the rest of Aaron’s Ghost Rider run, I think I can finally put myself safely in the “on board” column. It was touch and go there for a while with a couple of stinkers mixed in with the gooders, but this issue has restored my faith… for now! Ha-Hah, you just never know! Next month I could be bashing it again! Help, I’m in an abusive relationship and I can’t get out!*
• Iron Fist #16 (*****): Terrific series finale, bravo to all involved, especially Matt Fraction. I can’t wait for the “Heroes For Hire” relaunch this fall… wait, what? Not cancelled? New creative team? Get OUT of here!
• Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #30 (****): Still not the Knaufs, but adequate. Actually, more than adequate. This Moore guys is doing a bang-up fill-in! Overkill Mind! Star Squad! Paladin messing up Iron Man’s fascist face! YES! YES! YES!
• The Punisher #58 (*****): Every month I get a little sad. New Punisher issue only serves to remind me of its imminent cancellation. Well, pretty much, right? I like the new guy, his Foolkiller was good, but no one’s ever going to top Garth Ennis. Oh, I should say something about this issue. It was really good, as usual. They always are. Sad face.
• Thunderbolts #121 (*****): OH GOOD GOD! This was epic. And now it’s over. Forever. I don’t care that this book shipped once a quarter, it was totally worth it. But, I don’t think Ellis is leaving because of lateness, I think he’s just done. Is that true? Does anybody know? I’m seriously asking a serious question here…
• X-Factor #32 (****1/2): In this issue, Madrox tells Cooper to get stuffed and finally takes responsibility as the father of Theressa’s baby… and just like that, *POOF*, X-Factor is a 4-5 Star book again. Why? Because we’re back to focusing on the drama, baby, and not the action. Yay! Thank you, Peter David. I don’t know what happened to you or why you had to phone the past 6 months in, but I’m glad you’re back. Now, if only I could say the same thing about She-Hulk. UGH!
• Young Avengers Presents: Hawkeye #6 (****): This was easily the best of the series. Fraction is just on fire this month (although his Punisher still sucks ass). I loved how much of a dick Clint is when he makes Kate cry. Ha-Ha! But then, it was just Clint teaching her a lesson all along! Oh snap! Shit, I wish Clint had his own team book or something. He works well as mentor/father figure… FUCK, why isn’t he leading the New Avengers? He’s got the attitude, the skill and the experience. Maybe that’s one of the changes Bendis has lined up for after Secret Invasion? I hope so. I’ve always loved me some Hawkeye. Oh, and when the hell is Young Avengers Volume 2 coming out? These characters are way cooler than the Titans and those shitters have two books, both equally shitty!
Hmm, got surly there at the end. Ah, well. Tomorrow, Planetary Series Review (honest) and on Wednesday, maybe a Spoiler Re view… if something cool comes out.
*That one was for VsRealms.
This is a fun issue. First off, the FF has money problems! Yes this is just one more thing that made the FF great, they argued, they didn’t really want to be heroes, and they even had money problems. There are some genuinely funny moments in this issue and of course we also get some action. Jack Kirby’s art is great as always. The only thing that is a bit weird is that Namor was pretty much a hero when he last appeared. But in this issue he seems to have misplaced his nobilities. At the end, we get another Feature Page that gives more details about the Human Torch.
This is the first appearance of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby! Wait, what? Yeah they make an appearance in this issue. In a pretty zany way too, oh well that’s what’s great about the Silver Age right? Doom’s character begins to evolve into the one we know today. He goes from a villain who shares a past with Reed to a tormented figure obsessed with destroying him. Kirby’s art is stellar here. I personally enjoy how he humanizes Doom. The facial expressions between Reed and Doom in this issue are fantastic! We also get a pin-up of the Invisible Girl.
This is a bit of a silly one. This features Kurrgo, Master of Planet X! I think that the name of the character alone pretty much lets you know what’s in store for you. It’s a bit funny that after such a great issue last time, we get this questionably good story. Oh well, there is some great Kirby art and the comedic magic of Kurrgo! But other than that, we kind of have a goofy sci-fi story. Oh well, it was the 60s.
Ok, now this one is more like it. This features the first appearance of Puppet Master and Alicia Masters. They’re actually still around unlike old Kurrgo. This was a pretty good story that had a nice fast pace. Alicia Masters was a welcome new character and the Puppet Master is a fun cool villain. This story has an especially good conclusion and after last issue, this certainly does seem like great stuff. At the end we get a nice Feature Page that describes in detail some of the things about Human Torch. It’s kind of funny, one of the people in the letters page says he wants a Fantastic Four movie. That poor guy has a long wait ahead of him. And when he finally sees it, he may be a bit let down.
First appearance of Doom! Yes the best FF villain has made his appearance. This issue was pretty good. The art is really starting to get fantastic now. You can tell that both Lee and Kirby are refining the character of Doom. Considering the large amount of diabolical schemes this villain has concocted over the years, this one seems a bit silly. It’s still a lot of fun though. Especially what happens to Ben. The letters are still intriguing. The highlights are someone complaining about the fact that all the FF’s identities are known and a guy who asks why the Thing has four fingers instead of five.
Why not take your two best villains and team them up? That’s exactly what happens here and it happened quickly. Doom just made his debut last issue. This story is really good, it’s really starring Namor though. He’s the most interesting thing about the issue. Doom gets more evil which is always a good thing right? This seems to kind of be a test story to see if Sub-Mariner could have his own book. If it would have been done by Lee and Kirby and I would’ve been alive back then, I probably would have picked it up. This is a great issue.
So far, to pretty much everyone’s surprise, the tie-ins to the main Secret Invasion mini-series have been made of pretty high caliber stuffs. Especially, in my opinion, MI-13 and the Fantastic Four spin-off mini. This last month’s crop of books, of which I will review quickly here today (and which Desiato already did over here), have been no different.
First, I fricking love these covers, especially the Mighty and New Avengers “homages.” They really help give them that “everything ties into everything else” feeling. Second… let’s skip ahead to the individual reviews:
• Avengers: The Initiative #14 (****): This was a great issue of The Initiative, and I guess that’s mostly due to the fact that Dan Slott came on to co-plot this baby. He handled the Pym flashbacks/reveals expertly and his use of the 3-D Man was retro but at the same time very, very cool. I hungrily await the next installment.
• Fantastic Four: Secret Invasion #2 (****): The Fantastic Four mini has to be the most surprising of all the tie-ins. Although Aguirre-Sacasa is uber-talented and has done a fantastic job with the FF in the past, I don’t think anyone was expecting this one to be the great read that it certainly is. I think the quality has to be chalked up to AS’s obvious affection for these characters. The way he writes “The Brief Loves of Johnny Storm” is evidence enough of this, not to mention the touching make-out scene in the Negative Zone. I don’t know about you guys, but I really felt for these two characters caught on opposite sides of this holy war. I’m hoping maybe Lyja and Johnny get their happy ending… although, with Millar on the main title, I won’t hold my breath.
• Ms. Marvel #28 (*****): I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but… Ms. Marvel is my favorite of the bunch. WOW. Finally! We get some action! Some suspense! This one was epically written! There are not enough exclamation points in the memory of mankind to express how much I loved this issue!!! Her attitudes on war, murder and purpose? Loving this shit!
• Runaways/Young Avengers: Secret Invasion #1 (****): I love how, in the absence of the series’ creator, Marvel is keeping the Young Avengers franchise alive. Just like the Young Avengers: Presents, this crossover fills that YA fix nicely. Also, thank God that awful Whedon arc is over so we can get back to enjoying good Runaways comics. As far as the issue’s plot, I’m glad we finally find out what it is those freaking Skrulls were saying to each other over in Secret Invasion #3, and… what Teddy and Xavin’s respective roles will be in SI.
• The Incredible Hercules #118 (****): Not much to say here, besides pointing out how impossibly well written this book continues to be. Oh, and how about that Snowbird/Hercules hook-up? JEEZ! Herc sure does get around! AND, OH… Skrully coyote!
• The Mighty Avengers #15 (*****): The sordid life of Henry Pym… you know what? EFF that! Janet is such a ####! She totally left his ass, so like, he’s totally in the right to sleep with the first student/Skrull infiltrator that happens by… like, good for him, except, you know, when he gets beat up and replaced by an alien invader. That was kind of bad. And probably his fault. But, whatever. Screw, Janet!
• The New Avengers #42 (****): Jim Cheung is godly on the art. GODHEAD. Also, special thanks to one Mr. Bendis. The pieces finally fit. Everything fits! She’s been a Skrull since before the breakout? WHA!?!? …awesome. Now, all he has to do is explain that Skrull that showed up in one panel of Disassembled. Then, I shall be satisfied. Maybe.
So, yeah. High quality shit right here. This shipment of books has totally restored my faith in this event. I think the main action of Secret Invasion won’t really happen in the main book till we pass the midway point. Bendis is slow-rolling the hell out of this one. Which, I’m okay with, as long as the payoff is huge. Not talking “No More Mutants” huge. I’m talking “Death of Captain America” huge. Know what I’m saying?
Unlike the last two issues, this one doesn’t really have that impressive of a villain. This issue features the debut of Miracle Man, who is not nearly impressive as the Mole Man or the Skrulls. This issue also has the first appearance of the Fantasticar, the Pogo Plane, the Baxter Building, Fantasti-Copter, Fantasti-Car, and the Fantastic Four uniforms (yay!). The famous tag line of “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine!” was added. Well, in this issue the tag line was “The Greatest Comic Magazine in the World!” but it’s the same thing. Oh and the issues got more expensive.
Sadly, the Miracle Man kind of brings this issue down a bit. He doesn’t really have any important motivation, nor does he really have impressive powers. Is this Stan’s way of making fun of magicians? The art is still developing. The Thing even has a helmet and his chest covered in here that you don’t really see much of again. Still, Kirby does a fantastic job. A monster and the interior of the Baxter Building really look impressive.
The FF argues in this issue more than ever before, The Human Torch even leaves the team by the end of the issue. There’s a pin-up page of the Human Torch on the last page. The first letters column is also included in here. A letters column in a collection is rarely seen. All of the letters were positive except one. He complained about the art in issue one and that the Thing should be able to change into a human at will. I found this stuff to be pretty interesting. This is probably the worse issue so far, that’s what they get for bragging.
Last issue was the worst so far, this one is the best. This features the first appearance of Sub-Mariner in the Silver Age. Stan writes Namor in a brilliant way by having the Atlantean serve as a bit of a hero and a villain. He has just as many savage and destructive qualities as he does endearing ones. Kirby’s art continues to improve. This issue features a big cool monster as well as good old Namor.
Sub-Mariner is definately the best villain that the FF have faced so far. I think this probably started to transform the Fantastic Four from new unfamiliar characters into the icons they are today. The reintroduction of an old character like Namor was genious. The destruction of New York in this issue is presented on a grand cinematic scale. This issue has a more realistic feel to it. This issue features a pin-up of Mr. Fantastic as well as another letters column. This time all the letters are positive. A contest is even started regarding some trivia about the second issue. Hey! I know the answer. Should I write in and get five bucks?
That’s right. For the past two weeks, I received seven Secret Invasion books in my DCBS box. Let’s take a look (In the order that I read them).
The Incredible Hercules #118 (*****)
This book is still completely awesome. In this installment, we’ve got the God Squad (complete with collectible trading cards on the recap page with special Amadeus Cho rookie card) trying to find the lair of the Skrull Gods. In order to do so, they have to try and barter with Nightmare in order to receive a map that will lead them to their destination. Of course, Nightmare won’t just give it up, so we get to see montages of the various fears of the God Squad (including Amadeus Cho) until they are able to deceive Nightmare, steal the map and get the hell out of there before he uses the energy he received from absorbing their fears to take over the world. The banter is still awesome. The writing just sparkles at every turn. It’s genuinely funny, and I don’t see any way that people can’t be charmed by the Herc/Cho team up. They play so well off each other. This is a quality book month in and month out, and they’ve kicked it into high gear for Secret Invasion. Plus, considering the final splash page, the rest of this is probably going to be a hoot.
New Avengers #42 (****1/2)
The continuing saga of Jessica Drew brought to you from the perspective of nearly every major event since Bendis started generally steering the Marvel U. We get implications that the events of the Savage Land arc of New Avengers, House of M and Civil War were not only advantageous to the Skrulls, but possibly planned by the Skrulls. We also get a further continuation of the mythology behind this Skrull religion, as the act of fully immersing someone in a new identity takes the position of basically being a ritual, and a very cool one at that. Jimmy Chung also does a hell of a job on art chores (I LOVE that double page splash covering the background of Jessica Drew with her posing in the middle). This book is certainly covering the “secret” part of the Secret Invasion equation (while the main mini is much more of the “invasion” section), and I love the hell out of it. Secret societies, secret meetings, tons of conspiracy, tons of paranoia. And it all weaves its way beautifully through everything Bendis has been writing in the main Marvel U since Avengers Disassembled. Fantastic work.
Mighty Avengers #15 (****)
And the train keeps rolling. And Hank Pym’s skrully origin is revealed. And we get another bad ass ritual sequence. And we get some very cool art with Klaus Jansen and Tom Palmer working off John Romita Jr. breakdowns. It’s very reminiscent of JRJR and yet not at the same time. Groovy. I love the way the skrull constantly pumps Hank Pym for information (as well as other things…OH!) and makes it come off as the genuine gushing of a super hero groupie. And yet everything is for a specific purpose. These are all wonderful little puzzle pieces that are non essential to the main plot of Secret Invasion, but fill in that extra little bit of credibility that makes us really understand how the hell the Skrulls managed to pull this off so effortlessly. Plus, we’ve got a mention of the Beyonder, which is going to drive the people who think the Beyonder is behind all this up the wall. The only problem we have here is a bit of a timeline issue with New Avengers 42, which seems to feature Jessica Drew skrull talking to Hank Pym skrull, and that seems to take place before the events of Mighty 15 where he gets replaced. But it’s a minor continuity quibble, because I’m just enjoying the ride at this point.
Avengers: The Initiative #14 (****1/2)
Now THIS is fun. Slott’s back on co-writing duties for this issue (and I would assume the rest of the Secret Invasion arc, but I haven’t really been paying attention to the creator credits on solicits), and we’re dealing with the Skrull threat at Camp Hammond. Mostly from the perspective of 3-D Man, who is himself one of those altruistic Skrulls (similar to the Skrulls that pal around with She-Hulk, MI:13 and the Runaways…oh, and Hulkling), who is understandably trying to hide his identity in these trying times. Long story short, he finds out a way to see through the Skrull’s masking effects using a special pair of goggles, and proceeds to discover that EVERYONE at Camp Hammond is a Skrull. Of course, one assumes that this is not actually the case, and few if any of the people in the final double page spread are actually Skrulls, but it’s going to make for a fun little side story of one man against a world of people he thinks are guilty but are most likely innocent, and the hijinks that ensue. And nothing is more enjoyable than hijinks ensuing. The extra half star comes from that final splash, and the way 3-D Man’s yellow tinted goggles give off a sepia tone vibe and makes those last two pages look like some demented old-timey photo. Great stuff.
Ms. Marvel #28 (****)
Yes! I hoped this book would pick up once it got to the thick of things, and it surely did just that. First of all, Greg Horn is one of the best cover artists working today, and this issue is no exception. We join Secret Invasion already in progress with Ms. Marvel trying to deal with the armada attacking New York City. I mean, the book begins with a little twist on a very famous T.S. Eliot line (“This is the way the world ends. Not with a whimper…No…We should have known better than to think it would end with a whimper”) and I’m a big T.S. Eliot fan, so good on you Mr. Reed. And even better, we’re no longer bogged down with all the messiness from the last couple issues with the multiple Skrull Carol Danvers’ running around and too much of an emphasis on her interpersonal relationships. We’re full up on action now. And while not much actually happens in this book, it sure is staged well. We’ve got some nice story beats (the Skrulls react to Ms. Marvel’s power levels by shape shifting into defenseless innocents and blending in with the crowd) and good art. I don’t know if this book is as good as I rated it, but I think it’s such a step up from the last few issues that that probably had some influence on my score.
Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four #2 (****)
I love the way they take the time at the beginning of the book to point out how many times Johnny Storm has been screwed over by members of the opposite sex. It’s one of those character moments that lets you understand the complete exasperation that Johnny deals with when he discovers that Lyja is the Skrull that infiltrated the Baxter Building. And I also like the way that Lyja realizes very quickly that she bit off far more than she can chew once the Baxter Building is attacked by all kinds of nasty inhabitants of the Negative Zone. Plus, we’ve got Annihilation Wave bugs! And a giant robot piloted by Franklin and Valeria! And the added bonus of the gang needing to rely on breaking some folks out of the Negative Zone prison for the next issue! This book is just pure fun, which is exactly what we should expect from a Fantastic Four book (Mark Millar, I’m looking in your direction). And Barry Kitson is still bringing the kind of awesomeness that makes me miss The Order. Nothing wrong with this book at all. It’s a bit on the flighty side, but still a solid read.
Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avengers #1 (****1/2)
Exactly what I wanted. More issues of dealing with the trust factors of someone on a team being a Skrull (this time we’re dealing with Zavin of the Runaways), but at its core, this book is all about Hulkling. Because all things told, he’s an extremely important character for this entire overall event. This guy is the true heir to the Skrull throne. And we get to see the continuation of what happens after he took both barrels to the face during Secret Invasion #3. Zavin, after pulling a card from the deck of Captain Skrull-Vell and pretending to play along with the Invasion in order to further his own agenda, realizes who Hulkling is, and the chase to rescue him ensues, played out in front of the backdrop of a lot of his friends getting hurt and possibly killed. It’s human drama (though none of those involved are actually, you know, human). And it’s pulse pounding. And put simply, it’s great. As someone who doesn’t know who any of the Runaways actually are, I was able to get character traits down right off the bat (thanks, Chris Yost!), which allowed me to follow the excellent story unimpeded.
I am SHOCKED at how good all of these tie ins have been so far. This is an incredibly rich tapestry that is billowing in the wind behind the somewhat straightforward and austere book that is the main title. Yes, the tie ins are generally of a higher quality than the actual Secret Invasion mini. But that doesn’t bother me one bit. Everything informs everything else, and we’re left with this living, breathing organism of an event that is very costly if you want to experience the whole thing, but completely well worth it. Phew! That was a lot of words.
Would you believe I’ve never read these stories before? Crazy, huh? Well, I recently got a craving to read some Jack Kirby comics and I figured this would satisfy that craving in a big way. I’m going to be reviewing these in parts covering about 2 issues per post.
I will not be giving any kind of rating because I feel that these are classic stories that should be read by all regardless of how I feel about them.
I’ll just summarize each issue for you and give my feedback on them. I’ll briefly comment on the format on the omnibus. This collection will cost you 100 dollars. Pretty steep huh? Well, for that you get Fantastic Four #1-30 and the first annual. Just for comparison, these issues are also in the marvel masterworks collections. These are also in hardcover format and contain pretty much the same special features and also look about the same. However, this omnibus includes the same material that are in the first three masterworks volumes, the omnibus costs you 100 bucks, the masterworks route will cost you 150 bucks. So, if you can handle the physically hindering format of the omnibus, it is definitely the best way to read these stories. Now, onto the comics!
The first issue begins with the words the fantastic four written in smoke in the sky. It seems someone has fired a flare gun up in the sky and this is the message the flare shows. We see an invisible woman, a large rock-like creature, and a man on fire assemble. These are of course the fantastic four! Their names were featured on the first page. We then get their origin story. The four were attempting to reach the stars. “Ben, we’ve got to take that chance…unless we want the commies to beat us to it!” This is a quote from Sue Storm which seams humorous now, but this was written in 1961 and of course we didn’t land on the moon until 1969. They made it into space but they were soon affected by cosmic rays! Their ship crashed and that is how they gained their powers.
The reason why Mr. Fantastic fired the flare earlier is because he has some pictures to show the four. It seems that atomic plants all over the world are disappearing and are being replaced by big holes in the ground. We then see one of these events occurring and it seems that a giant green monster is the culprit. The creature also seems to be controlled by a man. The fantastic four then travel to Monster Isle!
They fight some monsters and when they travel below Monster Isle they discover a valley of diamonds and the mole man! They try to fight Mole Man but discover he is hard to hit because he has developed special senses “like those of a bat!” Mole Man calls his monsters to help him out. The four escape and “the entrance to the mole man’s empire are sealed forever!” The island then explodes and the fantastic four fly back home.
This issue was fun. It included the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and Mole Man. It should also be noted that the four didn’t have any costumes. Also, Mr. Fantastic and Sue Storm don’t seem to be a couple.
The issue opens with the thing destroying “a lonely Texas tower”. The Invisible Girl swipes a very rare gem. The Human Torch melts a new gigantic monument. Mr. Fantastic switches off the power to the city. My goodness. Are the Fantastic Four evil?! Nope, they’re just skrulls. It is explained how the skrulls were able to impersonate the four. The Fantastic Four are hiding out in a cabin and are puzzled as to who is doing this. We then get a retelling of their origin story.
The military captures the four and imprisons them. They break out of the prison and return to their headquarters. The torch and Thing begin to squabble. They come up with a plan to figure out who is impersonating them. The Human Torch acts as bait. The skrulls bring him back to their hideout thinking he is one of their own. Johnny shoots a flare to alert his teammates. The skrulls and the FF fight! The four win and tie up the skrulls.
It seems the skrulls were getting rid of the four to ensure plans of a total skrull invasion! So, the FF travel in the skrull’s ship to the skrull mother ship. The FF impersonate the four skrulls by just trying to act skrully and keep their same appearances. The Fantastic Four talk to the skrull leader and tells him that an invasion of Earth would be impossible. That the FF couldn’t be beaten, that Earth has giant warriors to protect the planet. The FF uses clips from Strange Tales and Journey into Mystery, a nice comic ad. The skrull is fooled and even gives Mr. Fantastic a medal. The Fantastic Four then return to Earth. On the way back though, they pass through more cosmic rays and the Thing changes back into Ben Grimm!
Sadly, the transformation doesn’t last long. The FF are then arrested when back on Earth because they are still thought of as criminals. The skrulls that were tied up have escaped and begin wreaking havoc. The FF defeat the skrulls and the cops witness the skrulls transformation and that proves the Fantastic Four innocent. The skrulls then confess that they don’t want to be skrulls anymore. So Mr. Fantastic hypnotizes the skrulls into believing they’re cows!
Wow! Superheroes fighting amongst themselves? Superheroes not wanting to be superheroes? Shocking stuff! This sounds like old news now but back in the days where every superhero had no personality, this was revolutionizing stuff. It should be noted that this is the first appearance of the skrulls and of the Thing and Human Torch fighting. Also, there were only three skrulls that were hypnotized into being cows. Apparently the fourth one escaped. This event will later be addressed in the Kree Skrull War. Lastly, at the end of the issue, there is a pin-up of the Thing.
Bruce Jones is a hack. A despicably vacant wreck of a talent. This issue was awful. And to be perfectly clear, I mistakenly pre-ordered this mess out of habit and boy did I pay the price for that one. In one swift stroke, Jones destroys any and all credibility earned by the Checkmate organization during the Greg Rucka run. What’s most appalling is that he sacrifices said credibility in order to give the world this monstrosity. What. The. Fuck. Hyperbole? I think not. I’m positive that anyone who’s actually read this issue knows exactly what I’m talking about. I’m burning this travesty, just as soon as I hit the publish button.
Fantastic Four #557 (***)
As far as opening arcs go, this one was an interesting choice. Millar stated that he wanted to get back to telling family oriented stories… doesn’t everyone say this about the Fantastic Four?… but I found these last four issues to be curiously devoid of any real depth. It’s not enough to say your plot is about Sue and Reed’s relationship, you actually have to write about said relationship. Maybe I just couldn’t handle all the subtext, but I just don’t see how this issue’s payoff scene was adequately built up in the preceding issues. Ok, that’s enough about what I didn’t like. Wait, this was stupid as well. The idea of the Anti-Galactus suit comes from a place in Millar’s head where he’s way too pleased with himself. Okay, okay, what I liked: Dangling subplots! This is something Lee and Kirby really excelled at in their legendary run and I’m glad Millar is tapping into this.
+Subplot #1: The fate of Nu-World!
+Subplot #2: Johnny and his new flame!
The Nu-World thing will most likely get addressed by the end of the run, but I’m not so sure about the “banging your villains” issue. Could this be just another one of Millar’s attention-grabbing ideas that go nowhere? Maybe. Oh, and with regards to that scene, couldn’t he still handcuff her after they finish? I’m sure I saw that in a movie once starring Joe Don Baker.
We’re still in the opening stages here, and I usually love the Millar/Hitch pairing, so I guess I can cut them some slack. And let’s be real, writing the FF is not the easiest assignment in history. Doing it right could be one of the toughest jobs in comics, second only to writing a good Superman book (Yay, Geoff Johns!). So, yes, I complain, but my heart is in the right place. Oh and… Enter: DOOM!
X-Force #4 (*****)
As each part of this story unfolds, the complex plot turns faster and thicker. In this issue, we focus on X-23. Now, I haven’t read much X-23, so I had no idea she was this emotionally damaged. And then she’s a cutter? Good, God! This happens after Wolverine just rips into here (not literally, at least not yet) about innocence and sacrifice. I love how violently Wolverine reacts, as if he feels personally indicted by X-23’s inhumanity. And rightly so, I would think. She is your clone, dude. Later, after the cutting, X-23 confronts a wolfed out Rahne Sinclair A.K.A. Wolfsbane. Just before going wild shit crazy on the drugged up lassie, X-23 hears Logan’s damning words in her head… and proceeds to drop her guard. Extreme violence and blood loss follows.
Which brings us to my one complaint about this entire series: the art, although wonderful, is sometimes so dark that it’s difficult to read the details. And maybe there’s too much blood? This is a nitpick, I admit. I am old and could probably do with some reading glasses. Anyway…
GAH! So much happened in this one issue! Why is Wolfsbane attacking her friends, specifically Angel? Oh, well because she’s under the control of Mathew Risman, of course. What a twist! And Bastion has no idea what Risman’s doing behind his back! Another cool twist! Shit! Those are Archangel’s old wings, right? A choir of Archangels?!? And speaking of Archangel, look who’s back… Archangel!!!
This is my book of the month. I had no idea how much I would enjoy reading it and it has completely surpassed all expectations. Consider me a believer. If you’re not reading this book, do yourself a favor and click the links. Gah, all I can say is that I wish I had access to this art a month ago. Sigh.
• 1985 #1 (**1/2): Meh, I think the solicitation was more interesting than the actual product being solicited.
• Action Comics #865 (***): Well written, as always, but what was the point of retconning Toyman’s character history?
• Fables #73 (**1/2): I wish the war was over already. I don’t think I care who wins. I don’t think I even like these fables anymore.
• The Immortal Iron Fist #15 (***1/2): This was fun. Shockingly. I dread the day Brubaker and Fraction leave the book.
• The Programme #11 (*): Oh, finally, time for the super soldiers to fight?
• Spawn #178 (****): I really like what Hine has done with this book. And now… and NOW I read that McFarlane is coming back and he’s going to turn it back into a superhero comic? WTF? EFF YOU, TODD!!!
• War is Hell: The First Flight of the Phantom Eagle #3 (***1/2): Okay, I get it now. I think I like this book.