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Monday, April 29, 2013

Comic Thoughts for the Week of 4/24/13



This week was an utterly insane pull, where for the first time in a few weeks, I picked up more than 10 titles, the majority of which being Marvel and Indie based books. This is likely a trend that I'll be seeing more and more as the main segment of the books that I've dropped over the past month or so have been DC titles. This speaks volumes about the declining quality of that line. That isn't to say I've replaced these dropped books with new Marvel titles, as the majority of my initial Marvel pull since Marvel Now began has remained consistent if not terribly voluminous. On the other hand, my Indie pull continues to grow, as I continue to add Image titles that are of interest. A few of those books came out this week much to my abject pleasure. But let's take a look of what I picked up, as always spoilers are a go!

Jupiter's Legacy #1 - Mark Millar is a pretty divisive figure in the industry, and it's not hard to figure out why: He doesn't hold back on his opinions and the frachises he's most famous for are not for all audiences (Kick-Ass, Wanted) or are very politically-based (The Ultimates). That isn't to say he isn't a good story-teller. I enjoyed Red Son immensely, and his work on The Authority is worth note. His new title Jupiter's Legacy re-teams him with Frank Quitely and it's visually a gorgeous piece of work. The concept centers around a group of explorers that gain
superpowers from a mysterious island and become superheroes, which then jumps decades into the future and the focus is directed to their children and the celebrity lifestyles they lead while their parents are still fighting whatever supervillains remain. It's a good, if somewhat well-worn concept which we've seen in superhero deconstructions in the past (for both good and ill), but Millar, for all his storytelling faults, can make a story move briskly and having a partner like Frank Quitely is helpful in that regard. This may be some of the cleanest Quitely art I've seen since All-Star Superman. It's a solid title, that one forced political conversation aside, is subtle work for Millar. I'll check out Issue 2 and see if he can maintain this less over the top voice. I give it a B

Avengers #10 and New Avengers #5 - Jonathan Hickman had a huge week this week that also saw the release of East of West #2 and The Manhattan Projects #11. I picked up all four titles, and the two latter independent books were phenomenal, particularly The Manhattan Projects which continues its trend of excellence finally opening up a new arc this past week. The jury is still out on East of West, I think its world building is phenomenally well done, but I'm not sure I'm still loving its central concept of the all-powerful Four Horsemen. I'd almost rather just read a book about this alternate America he's built without the supernatural trappings, but we'll see. In both titles, Hickman is supplemented by amazing artists in Nick Pitarra and Nick Dragotta who are able to shape his robust vision. This is echoed in New Avengers, where Steve Epting continues his great work with Hickman on the title. As I've said before, New Avengers continues to be the better of the two books, with its focus on a very small core cast of characters and the encroaching sense of doom that pervades each page. Jonathan Hickman's major flaw as a writer is that his character beats never really get a chance to breathe between a never ending sense of "this happens and then this happens and then this happens", but in New Avengers each character voice is perfectly distinct without losing sight of the major conflict looming in the background. I've never been a huge fan of the concept of the Illuminati in Marvel, but it's perfectly suited to Hickman's strengths. The background presented on the Black Swan was interesting enough without being intrusive to the story (as was not the case with The Garden in the main Avengers title a few months back). The last page reveal that the team will be heading to Latveria is especially welcome, since if there's any character Hickman nails, it's Doctor Doom. The main Avengers title floundered again by contrast, once more we have another fill-in artist and a story with stakes that I find myself saying I simply care very little about. I also have a tremendous dislike for Alpha Flight, as they're characters that have never been particularly of interest to me, and Hickman does nothing here to alleviate that. It's just too scattered a title, and Marvel is shooting itself in the foot with the shipping schedule as well. I want to like it, but at this point, it's just so lifeless. I did enjoy the last few pages for whatever that is worth.
Avengers - C-, New Avengers - A-, East of West - B, The Manhattan Projects - A

Young Avengers #4 - After 2 issues of fairly mediocre storytelling, Kieron Gillen gets back to what works best which is letting Jamie McKelvie's art lead the way. This issue also sees the return of Noh-Varr and Kate Bishop, who are probably the two best fleshed out characters (along with Kid Loki) within the Marvel Universe that reside in the title. The diagram like panel of Noh-Varr saving all of his fellow Young Avengers was one of more inventive page spreads I've ever seen. I'm not a massive fan of Kieron Gillen, I think he has a great knack for dialogue and humor but his long term plotting leaves alot to be desired. His pairings with McKelvie have produced two books that I find incomprehensible (Phonogram vol 1) and love endearingly (Phonogram Vol 2). I'm hopeful that with McKelvie's guidance the latter's momentum will be where Young Avengers continues to head. Issue 3 just had me a little worried is all. I give it an A and it's my Best Read of the Week.

Batman Incorporated #10 - The endgame for Morrison's Batman Epic is finally falling into place. Bruce is of course still reeling from the death of his son, but his grief is quickly overtaken by anger and Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham give us a wonderful reinvention of the "I shall become a bat!" scene in Batman Year One. There's a little bit of confused continuity regarding Azrael, but at this point I've decided to simply disregard Batman Incorporated's placement in the New 52. I truly believe that Morrison's Bat epic is the perfect middle period story of Batman's career between Batman Year One and The Dark Knight Returns, and the end twist of this tale pulls the entire 7-8 year plus run full circle. I wish the gatefold cover hadn't ruined the end, but this otherwise is a great start to the end of what may be the last long form superhero work we see from Grant Morrison in awhile. Talia is downright scary here by the way.  I give it an A

As for the rest...

Mind MGMT #10 - Another great issue from Matt Kindt that may set the pace for pulling the "everything you thought was wrong" card. A-

FF #6 - I was dreading the fill-in art, but Joe Quinones work isn't too many steps removed from Mike Allred, and having Laura Allred being the carry-over element between the two helps immensely. B+

Justice League Dark #19 - This is a title that's been in a tailspin for months due to a less than captivating third arc. This issue may be the start of righting the ship, though it's still a little bumpy. The end reveal was nice and a very obvious villain to pull from when you consider Dr. Destiny's history with the Vertigo line. B-

Flash #19 - I haven't picked up an issue of the Flash in months, but I very much want to like the character so I tried it again with the thought that the Reverse Flash arc was starting up. I came out sorely disappointed, boring storytelling by Brian Buccellato and flat fill-in art.Francis Manapul, come back! D

 
 
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