Featured Posts

Reviews Load More

Features Load More

Sunday, September 22, 2013

What Event Should You Be Reading?

As is seemingly always the case in the world of mainstream comics, there are a couple of "Events" going on, stories that overtake an entire universe and/or cross over into another line of books.  Right now there are no fewer than three big crossovers going on at the big two: Forever Evil/Villains Month at DC, and Infinity and Battle of the Atom at Marvel.  Now, if you're like me, the hype tends to draw you in at the beginning, and the hint of something interesting or consequential at the end keeps you going until you reach it and wonder why you bought eight issues of something you never really enjoyed (I'm looking at you, Age of Ultron).  Well, I can't predict the future, but as someone who is reading all three of these crossovers to varying degrees, I can tell you which one I think is your best bet for an enjoyable reading experience.

Forever Evil/Villains Month

This is a tough one to call, because there's only been one issue of Forever Evil out so far.  However, we've had dozens of tie-ins--literally every book coming out from DC (except their excellent digital-first line) this month is ostensibly one as the villains take over every title for September.  We've talked about Forever Evil #1 both in reviews and on the podcast, so I won't go into too much depth, but overall I'd say it's worth reading.  I don't have a whole lot of an idea as to where it's going except for the fact that Luthor is looking like the hero, but the issue seemed to tie together a lot of the threads that Johns has been laying in the New 52 for a while now.  It also had a lot of Johns' old snappiness, which seemed to be all but gone in most of the issues he's written lately.

That's a lot of tie-ins!

However, looking at Forever Evil and Villains Month as one big event--which it is supposed to be--my outlook is much less bright.  Of the many books that have come out in the first few weeks of September, there are only two or three that I'm glad I bought.  The books completely lack any sense of cohesiveness: some are origins, some tie very closely to the central Forever Evil story, and some don't seem to have any point at all.  I'm sure that the regular creative teams on all of DC's books appreciate a month off, but having different teams on these books doesn't help them either.  Rather than give a fresh look at the title or character, they just seem to be pointless additions that a reader subscribed to a series probably doesn't need or want.  Probably the only good thing overall about these books are the covers; I expected the 3D covers to be just a gimmick to sell more books (and they are), but they are actually pretty damn cool, and several of them appeal to me as a collector, even though the contents don't appeal to me as a reader.

So, considering what's been put out so far, I would rank Forever Evil/Villains Month Number Three in terms of current events.


Marvel's biggest event right now is one that Hickman and others have been building towards for quite some time now, and in a lot of ways it's paid off.  I've been reading Avengers since its Marvel Now relaunch, and I'm up to date on Infinity.  In the interest of full disclosure, I have not read any New Avengers yet.  Yes, alright, I'll pause for a moment for you to explain why I should be reading it.  Done?  Yes I know that many consider it to be the better of Hickman's Avengers books, and honestly I don't have a great reason for not having read it; I've just invested a lot of time and money on the main Avengers book and couldn't afford to be picking up both.

The main Infinity book started off weak, in my opinion, but it's gotten much more interesting as it's gone on.  The first issue was scattered and threw too many ideas and plots in the pot for me to follow, but I have a feeling that a more hardcore Marvel fan than I might really enjoy all the complex threads.  As the event's progressed, Infinity and Avengers have both gotten more focused, and I am now really enjoying the epic, cosmic battle.  One of Hickman's strengths is his ability to make yet another biggest-ever world threat seem freshly giant and important.

Sweet 'Hickman-graphics!

However, Hickman's biggest weakness comes into play here to a worse degree than most of his books in the past: his writing is so structural, so cold, that it leaves very little room for character development or interesting dialogue.  While on one hand he has weaved a lot of the Marvel Universe into this story, it would be very easy to replace any of the characters with generic superheroes and aliens and the story would be wholly unchanged.  There have been a few flimsy attempts to make Captain America a living, breathing character in that his ingenuity and never-say-die attitude makes him different from the alien council, but that only makes him slightly more interesting than the rest.  Hickman is great at moving the chess pieces around in a structurally interesting way, but there is absolutely nothing to grasp onto character-wise here.

That's why I'm ranking this one Number Two.

Battle of the Atom

Some consider the X-Men universe to be one that's too daunting to delve into, but as someone who only read The Dark Phoenix Saga and saw all the movies (for better or worse) and jumped onto X-Men with Schism in 2011, I can tell you it's not so difficult.  So long as you can occasionally do some checking on Wikipedia, I think most people find the world of the X-Men to be full of wonderful characters and an extremely rich history that in the right hands almost always has a great new story to tell.  This crossover event takes the history of the original X-Men, throws it in with some mysterious future X-Men, and tosses it all together in the present day, where there is already a lot of interesting conflict going on.

Nothing too complicated, right?

While Battle of the Atom has crossed over into most of the X-Men books, it's strength clearly lies in Brian Michael Bendis.  This is essentially the first time he's tackled the X-Men, and anyone reading All-New X-Men will tell you that he's doing it beautifully.  You can read my reviews of the first two parts of the crossover (both written by Bendis), but suffice to say that he's got a superpowered grip on the personalities of the core characters of the story.  His dialogue and pacing give us just as many moments of revelation and heartbreak as they do laugh out loud confrontations, and this is only more so with several versions of the same characters interacting.

Although the one book not written by Bendis so far (X-Men #5) has been the weakest of the bunch, it still progressed the story and added meaningful bits to the characters, giving young Scott and Jean some time to themselves.  This week will see Jason Aaron's first bit in BotA in Wolverine & the X-Men #36, where if his track record holds, he will do an excellent job--he held his own through several issues that had to cross over with the not-so-great AvX last year, and those tie ins proved to be better than most of the miniseries.

Taking all points into account, I would recommend Battle of the Atom most highly of the current events running right now.  It's almost halfway through, and it's been pretty consistently great from the start.  It isn't muddied with 10,000 unnecessary tie-ins like Forever Evil and it holds a tight structure like Infinity while managing to stay focused on the characters and be a very enjoyable, fun reading experience. 

Am I totally wrong?  Are you steaming from the ears, ready to type out a diatribe about why Infinity or Forever Evil should take the cake?  Tell me!  Let us know what you think by leaving a comment here, or getting in touch with us through Twitter or Facebook.
Share This

comments powered by Disqus

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts
© GeekRex All rights reserved