Comics are pretty good now, so maybe I’ll be writing these a little more frequently. I’m not going to cover every single title I buy this time, just the stuff that I feel deserves specific attention, be it bad or good.
Absolute All-Star Superman – I’ve been reading about how incredible this non-canon project is for months now. I don’t necessarily consider myself a Superman hater, but I’m not a fan. I can enjoy the Big Blue Boy Scout in the right setting and a story outside of DCU continuity by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely is a pretty good bet.
A few months ago I made the statement that certain bands should have stopped making albums after what I felt was their pinnacle release. I feel that way about All-Star Superman. This is essentially every Superman story that needs to be told, and they will never be told better. Over the course of twelve issues, these creators cover everything that is great about the Man of Steel in a way that is concise and all-encompassing. I have never seen storytelling so effectively compressed and engrossing.
If you haven’t read All-Star Superman, do it. Even if you hate the character, these are great, fun stories.
I will say, though, that you would have to be out of your fucking mind to buy the Absolute Edition. I got an outstanding deal on mine and still feel like I paid too much. Buy the trades or even the reprints of the individual issues. The Absolute Edition is too big to read comfortably and only offers a few notes about the story development from Morrison, along with some pencils-to-finish illustrations from Quitely. I don’t feel this is anywhere near being worth the $100 cover price unless you just don’t have anything better to spend your money on or want to get somebody a gift that seems really fancy. And maybe that’s what these Absolute Editions are for – when you need a fancy gift for a geek.
This is an outstanding story and a poor value. Find it in another format.
Invincible Iron Man – This is a very smart title that is fun to read. I like that Stark is on top of shit and not just a victim of constant mishaps like so many comic book protagonists seem to be. He is a proactive hero with a plan of his own; he’s not just reacting to villains schemes all the time.
Batman & Robin – The big finale of Morrison’s run was fantastic. It was a nice twist on “I am Iron Man” and leaves an easy out for the inevitable return to status quo. I think a lot of fun is in store for us with Batman, Inc. Morrison is gone after issue 16, but the title will continue the adventures of Dick and Damian and hopefully the manic spirit it has had so far. If it does, I'll keep buying it.
GI Joe – This one is really starting to feel big. I complained a lot about how long it was taking for anything to actually happen (22 issues), but it really seems like Mr. Dixon had a worthwhile plan. I’m glad I hung in there.
Curse of the Mutants – This has been a fun vampire story except for the boring-ass Namor stuff. The art in his book is beautiful, but the story just isn’t doing anything for me.
GI Joe – A Real American Hero – Still very 80’s, but damn this Cobra Commander is fun. The man who can find time to hurl alliterative insults and friend and foe in the midst of battle truly is a tactical genius. Also, there is some kind of wacky shit going on with a virus Dr. Venom left in the Brainwave Scanner. That has his face. That Dr. Mindbender keeps trying to hide from Cobra Commander. It's crazy. This is old-school fun that makes me feel like a kid again. I fear the day that Hama decides to leave ARAH and IDW puts somebody on it that thinks it should be grim and gritty.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Things just keep getting weirder and I love it. I’m curious to see how Whedon is going to wrap all of this up. I look forward to re-reading the whole run to see if it’s a lot more cohesive than I think it is.
Green Lantern & GL Corps – GL is still very good, particularly the stuff with Sinestro and Atrocitus. GL Corps has just started a new arc about the Weaponer of Kwaard and that is just awesome, especially his fight with Kyle Rayner.
For some reason I’ve been having some issues with the comic shop about which titles I do and do not get. They keep trying to put Justice League and Avengers books that I don’t get in my box and missed two issues of GLC: Emerald Warriors, which may or may not have brought back the Lantern with the unfortunate name - Sodam Yat – which I may or may not be happy about . I picked up issue four and didn’t know what the fuck was going on, then realized I didn’t have two or three. C’mon, guys.
Batman – I don’t know what’s in store for this title, but it’s going to need a good creative team to keep me buying. I dropped Detective because of that last terrible fucking story. If I see David Hine on something from now on, I’ll be skipping it.
Edge of Doom – New horror stuff from Steve Niles and Kelley Jones. The first issue is disturbing as all get out. I think this is going to be an anthology type of thing.
Scarlett – This is a great story, but I’m honestly feeling a little guilty reading this book about a cop killer. I mean, I know they’re supposed to be bad cops and all; but still…
Batgirl – This book is awesome fun and you are really missing out if you’re not reading it. The last issue featured a concise explanation of just what the fuck has gone on in the world of Batman over the last sixty years or so, courtesy of Ms. Stephanie Brown. I was laughing out loud. Dustin Nguyen is the new artist on the book and he fits in just fine. I was afraid his style might be too serious, but it looks great.
Brightest Day – If things don’t pick up with the whole White Lantern Batman thing (which I am convinced is going to last about as long as Sinestro Corps Batman did) I’m done. This narrative is so fucking slow and I don’t care about this Hawkpeople bullshit at all. I can catch up on Comics Alliance no problem.
Birds of Prey – Issue six wrapped up the first arc nicely. It was a solid, action-packed story that served to get you more invested in the characters. I don’t care for the new artist, though. They’re not terrible, I just liked Benes better.
Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne – Since I read Batman & Robin #16 first, this issue was not as revelatory as it might have been. Still, it actually tied everything up surprisingly well. It was clearly Morrison’s intention to finish the story here, as no loose ends were left and no questions went unanswered. Granted, I’m not even sure what some of the questions were, but this was a satisfying conclusion to several years of intense mythology and characterization.
Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – I’m mentioning this again just in case you skipped it: this is a series of one-shots about Bruce contacting his people in preparation for Batman, Inc. Almost all of them are worthwhile and the story is a great prelude to what is coming.
The Walking Dead – The last issue ended with yet another “Oh, fuck…” moment for poor ol’ Rick. I identify with him to some extent in that before I got married I spent a few years trying to avoid any kind of responsibility. I just wanted a nice Assistant Manager job somewhere so I could pay the rent and pursue my interests relatively stress-free. But no matter what I did, I kept ending up in charge. Rick has the same problem, but on a much, much worse scale.
Warlord of Mars – I’ll be honest – I bought this because of the awesome J. Scott Campbell cover. I’ve read some of John Carter’s adventures and enjoyed them enough, but I really had no interest in this new comic adaptation from Dynamite! And then I cracked it open on impulse and found great art and a narrative that did a good job of getting me interested. It actually started with a post-War of Northern Aggression John Carter dealing with being on the losing side, as well as an introduction to his Martian buddy. I’m interested enough to pick up a couple more issues.
The Goddess & the Monster – I think you should buy Daniel Brereton's new art book from Image. It has tons of new and old pieces in it, as well as a bunch of people talking about how great Brereton is. Granted, I might have preferred some more notes about the individual pieces, but the guy is pretty great. If you liike monsters and creepy shit, this is for you.
Special Feature – Comics on TV (and stuff)!
Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes – I never expected this show would be so good. The characterizations are fantastic, the voice acting is spot-on and the stories are huge and make sense. There is a clear arc from episode to episode, but each one stands on its own. We are seeing the Avengers struggle with their identities both as individuals and as a group and it is wonderful. The show is fun without being childish and mature without being too dark. If the quality continues (or improves!) this will give Justice League a run for its money.
Batman: The Brave & The Bold – This show has turned into sort of a bummer. The creators really need to get off of this death kick they’ve been on all season. The episodes have been great fun, but I guess the writers feel like they need to spoil the mood by killing somebody every episode. Yeah, the last death was technically a robot, but they showed Sgt. Rock crying over it. And then they teased the death of Batman’s bumbling but well-intentioned robot, Proto, later in the episode. Seriously, guys; cut it out – this is supposed to be the fun Batman cartoon.
Batman: Under the Red Hood – I finally caught this on Netflix the other night and it is very good. Bruce Greenwood is my favorite serious non-Conroy Batman and Jensen Ackles makes a great Jason Todd. John DiMaggio would have been an amazing Joker if he wasn’t Bender. He was absolutely perfect except for the fact that I kept hearing Futurama’s drunken robot and that just spoiled it. I may have to drop my Winick embargo so I can read the comics this was based on.
Until next time, stay creepy