Saturday, 18 May 2013

The Inconceivably Large Comics Post - Part 1: The Big Two

Alright, here we go. These are the comics I've been bringing in on my monthly pull from the local shop, the current and mainstream stuff from Marvel and DC. Some good, some bad, and some wedged solidly in-between. Oh, and...spoilers.


Green Lantern - We haven't seen the leave of Geoff Johns yet. I have a bad feeling that this title is going to suffer some when he goes, but that remains to be seen. The story...escalated, fairly quickly, from where I picked up in issue #12. Hal and Sinestro and Simon Baz have found themselves in the Dead Zone (the closest the lanterns will get to an afterlife), and Sinestro has escaped to find himself face to face with The First Lantern. It's getting alittle crazy. In a lot of ways there's just too much going on, and I miss the driven simplicity of Rebirth, when Johns brought Hal and his buddies back from the, um, dead-ish, and pitted them against Parallax. That was a good fight, and it was Hal's kind of fight: hit fast, hard, and pull no punches. But here there are dimensions and play, and that always gets messy. We're dealing with unknown quantities of spirituality and the Emotional Spectrum, and there's no precedent. This all makes it a little hard to read, BUT...once it all comes together, it's going to be joy to sit down with all the issues and read the whole thing at once without waiting a month in the middle. Also, it's a joy to see Sinestro get shut down by a lantern with a handgun. Three cheers for Simon Baz.

DC's Emotional Spectrum

Green Arrow - This series interests me because of the fact that it has a television series running simultaneously, and yet it remains unclear whether those storylines will converge at all. At this point, I'm guessing not. The CW's Arrow is drawing heavily and obviously on Mike Grell's The Longbow Hunters from '87, while DC monthly emerald archer is younger and more of a hotshot. The writing's good, and the art is decent though a little patchy and un-resolved (if that makes any sense; there are images where the artist has gone for a noir feel, and ended up obscuring everything that might make sense). Still there's a stylization there that works for the character. I say the writing's good; it is, but the story could use some help. We've seen three issues now of two archers chasing each other around a city, each getting shot a few times, and no real plot. Jeff Lemire's overhaul of this series should've been a big deal. The instability in creative teams on this title had crippled it, and this was going to be its saving grace, but...well, we're still waiting. It's better, but not there. I've become academically invested in Green Arrow this past year. I'd like to see Lemire return the character to the role of social relevance I believe he was meant to play, as he did in the 70's with Neal Adams and Denny O'Neill at the wheel. Maybe we'll see that. Or maybe DC will once again confirm our fears that comics are losing their edge, and push me further down the road to comic buff cynicism.

Justice League of America - It had never occurred to me that The Justice League and The Justice League of America could be two creatures so different from each other. This series has assembled a team of underdogs, which I'm cool with, designed to take down the major players, which I'm still questioning. I like that DC is playing both sides of this at the same time, having a series dedicated to the team with the mission to destroy the other team. That's kinda cool. And the writing's been good; the series definitely has its moments. I feel like the next issue, #4, is going to resolve a lot. They've certainly built up excellent inter-character tensions, from Catwoman ending up in Martian Manhunters memories, to Vibe being straight-up scared of Hawkman, and Katana talking to the spirit in her sword. It's a great cast of characters, and all too soon to pass judgement. Maybe next month.


Guardians of the Galaxy - I remember picking up a preview issue beside the cash register at some point back in January and seeing a space-Ent fighting beside an armoured racoon with a multi-barreled rocket launcher. "Sold", I thought, and three issues later I'm still thinking it. This series is excellent; a little short on story, perhaps, this early on, but excellent. And judging by the last issue, about to get much, much better. Iron Man is in space, there's a ton of intergalactic politics that we never knew existed, and one of our heroes is being regrown in a dish of dirt. This couldn't end any way but well. There's also the creative team to blame for my optimism. Neither Brian Michael Bendis nor Steve McNiven have ever let me down, and having both of them on this project is a treat. And hey, if nothing else, it's pretty to look at.

Secret Avengers - This wouldn't have been nearly as interesting to write about before the trailers for Joss Whedon's new Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series were released, but now there's a whole lot more to wonder about. When I opened the first issue, I knew there was something going on. "Agent Coulson's in this", I thought, scanning it. "That can't be bad." Seeing a character make the leap from cinema screen to mainstream Marvel monthly title is kinda a big deal. Knowing now that Phil isn't actually dead helps this make sense. In the comics, he's helping Fury run a team of covert operatives including Black Widow, Maockingbird, and Hawkeye. A.I.M. is involved, and we just saw their silver screen debut with Iron Man 3. The Hulk just got roped in, and Taskmaster has made an appearance. It's an intriguing blend of characters. There's much political intrigue, and a lot of mind-wiping going on. Again, we're only three issues deep, so it's hard to make a judgement call. But I find myself looking forward to reading these when I pick them up, and I'm looking forward to following the title as it progresses, and seeing if what Mr. Whedon is cooking has any pull on what happens in the pages.

Wolverine - I always knew there was more to Wolverine that just hadn't been written yet. More than the samurai training, the immortality, the many dead girlfriends, and the rebelling-against-Xavier moments. This title proved me right. There is more. Like the fact that he isn't a "lone wolf". He likes people. In fact, he has his own team, a bar full of friends who research for him, patch him up, buy him a beer, give him the odds, and send him back out into the fight. Real friends. He thinks about "his" kids, the ones at the school, and keeps their safety in mind. So, it's different. It'll be different from any Wolverine you've read, and different from what you've seen on screen. That is, if you read it. Which you should should. Because there is Watcher-sized **** going down here, and we all know what that means.

Fearless Defenders - This title is less than I'd hoped for. I might take it off my list, unless the next issue is something special. I started out hoping that this all-female team would have some real teeth, and carry some oomf when it came to addressing relevant feminist issues. Clearly I've been reading too much Brian K. Vaughn, but that's an issue for another blog. This title has some wit and snark, but that's about all it is. Other wise, it's another weak fantasy thread making an attempt to be modern by excluding all the guys. A good premise, but not as well executed as I'd hoped. Maybe next time, Marvel.

(What's got me far more interested is issue #1 of The Defenders, but I haven't added it to my pull yet. What's not to like about a team-up of Dr. Strange, Silver Surfer, Iron Fist, and Namor?)

Now, in addition to all this, I picked up an issue that I must talk about briefly, which I didn't realize was Marvel until I bought it. I've been a fan of Skottie Young's illustration work for some time now. In a lot of ways, he's the reason I started this blog; I was inspired by his commitment to posting a "daily sketch" and wanted to do something similar. Anywho...from reading his blog I knew he'd been working on an Oz project, and from what I'd seen of the illustration it was something I very much wanted to read. So when I stumbled across an issue titled "Road to Oz" I snatched it up. It turned out to be a prequel to the main series, and I was astounded. It was unlike any comics I'd read, and perhaps that because it's the first time I've actually seen Skottie's work in a comic. His storytelling skill is wonderful. The way the dialogue was written, was as though the cadence was off, changed so that the reader would never mistake it for the speech of the real world. But it fit the story so perfectly I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. I plan to keep an eye out for the other issues (it's a 6-issue limited run, my favourite thing to collect), and someday when I meet Skottie I'll get them signed, and fangirl over the whole thing. Cause that's just how I roll.

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