Sorry, folks. No pictures this time. I am a bit pressed.
For the first time pretty much ever I’ve got two months in a row of comic book stuff. Amazing. Well, provided I actually finish this before Wednesday.
I feel weird not opening with some sort of collection or graphic novel this time, but I haven’t picked anything up lately. I mentioned IDW’s collections of the Marvel GI Joe comics at the end of the last update and I’m still enjoying those. Mrs. Troublemaker got me the first two volumes of Special Missions. I’m excited about reading those, as I remember them being self-contained, action-packed stories about fringe Joes that you didn’t get to see in the main comic. I also seem to remember the art being somewhat superior to A Real American Hero.
I would like to point out that –to me, anyway – twenty pages is very noticeable. DC needs to correct this issue. Padding out the books with five or six pages of promotional garbage in the back does not make up for the two lost pages of story development. Every title feels rushed now. I’m not saying I won’t get used to it or that the creators won’t adapt, but as of now I don’t like it. And their ridiculous “Holding the line at $2.99” blurbs verge on insulting. They didn’t hold fucking shit. They cut two pages out of their comics. Asses.
Invincible Iron Man – I wasn’t expecting to like issue 500 or the gimmicky 500.1. 500 took place in the far-flung future, which is usually a sure sign that the story is irrelevant and has no bearing on anything. It will be a future parable at best. Invincible 500 does follow along those lines, but actually goes a long way toward characterizing Tony Stark and his current state of being. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would and the point of the story is the same whether or not this proposed future actually happens.
500.1 seemed even more disposable initially. As a matter of fact, I wasn’t even going to pick it up until Varis talked me into it. And I’m glad he did. From what I had read it seemed that all of these “.1” issues from Marvel (they’re doing it with all of their major titles) were going to be those “Here’s the story up to now” recap things that should really be free, or at most back-ups in the regular titles. While this is pretty much true, if they are all handled as deftly as Invincible Iron Man 500.1 I’ll have to say we should all give them a try. The story is of Tony at an AA meeting, and while it gives you exactly what you expect from a recap, it does it cleverly and with beautiful accompanying art. This is really a perfect companion piece for IIM 500, as they both give you a deep, yet simple look at who Tony Stark is right now.
Batman & Robin – Oops. Last month I said I couldn’t wait for Gleason and Mahnke’s run. I forgot to correct that. I knew Tomasi was writing, but I couldn’t remember who was doing the art, so I threw both artisits in and meant to correct it when I posted. That doesn’t always happen. Patrick Gleason is, of course, penciling the newest story arc of what is – in my mind – the primary Batman title. It starts of powerfully, with the Wayne family gathering to watch The Mark of Zorro. Bruce makes the point that the day of his parents’ murders was the best day of his life up until the point when it happened. There are all kinds of messages about new beginnings tied up in just the first two pages of this arc. After that wonderful opening, it’s all Dick and Damian. And then an angel falls out of the sky. Typical B&R craziness. We also get a nice moment where Commissioner Gordon shows Damian just who’s in charge around here, anyway. I’m very excited about the rest of this arc.
GI Joe – This one is starting to feel more like the action-packed comics that GI Joe should be. We finally got some sweet Cobra-on-Joe action, and in the scope that their first major conflict should have been. Snake-Eyes and new operative Helix end up in the middle of Cobra central with no chance to escape after hijacking Cobra’s MASS transmitters and jumping back to the base with an insertion team. I’m starting to settle in to this new continuity and it seems like the teams on these IDW books really know where the story is headed. Cobra: Civil War is up next and I’m ready. Granted, there has been a Cobra civil war in every single other iteration of GI Joe, but this one has been set up so competently that it was a complete surprise while still totally making sense. But we’ll get into that next…
GI Joe – Cobra – So I actually dropped this one a few months ago. It was just a bit too dark for me from the beginning, and when they kicked off a new story arc that centered around a reporter (?) I dropped it. And then in issue 12 they - SPOILER ALERT! – killed Cobra Commander. Granted, I don’t believe for one second that it was actually Cobra Commander who got his brains splattered all over the throne room by Chuckles (!). The internet made a HUGE deal about this, to the point where I went to the comic shop and picked up all the issues that I had missed to catch up on the story. I even managed to get to the big event without having it spoiled (though I had my suspicions). In all honesty, it didn’t have the same impact for me that it seemed to have for everyone else. 1) This is hardly the first time we’ve seen Cobra Commander “die”. 2) This is an entirely new continuity of GI Joe. The guy that Chuckles shot may be the guy that started Cobra, but who’s to say whether or not he’s the intended permanent Cobra Commander? 3) I don’t believe it was Cobra Commander anyway. The IDW books have made a BIG deal out of their Commander’s intellectual prowess and strategic genius, to the point that he almost seems super-powered (but not quite). I don’t think they gave him that much set up only to have fucking Chuckles kill him just when he was really starting to take a larger part in the comics.
Oh, by the way – that story arc about the reporter turned out to be one of the best GI Joe stories I have ever read. Well, Cobra stories. It’s about the reporter investigating the religious cult arm of Cobra and what happens to him as a result. It’s fantastic and exemplifies how intelligently the team IDW put on the Joe titles is handling things. Even if you don’t regularly read the new Joe books, I recommend you pick up the trade when it comes out.
GI Joe – A Real American Hero – I still enjoy this one, but it almost feels like modern day Larry Hama is writing as 80’s Larry Hama. The old books actually read a bit more sophisticated than this one. I like the stories, though, and feel like Hama will get back into the groove sooner than later.
Aaaaand – I just read issue 163 and it seems like Hama got his groove back (sorry). This is the first issue that really flowed naturally and felt like part of the old story. Granted, it's crazy as hell, but it is solid. Billy is possessed by Doctor Venom's brain ans Snake-Eyes is with Cobra. Also, Baroness is in Joe prison and totally fucking with their heads. Good times.
X-Men: Age of X – I picked up Alpha – the introductory issue – because I liked Curse of the Mutants and would really like to get back into the Marvel’s Merry Mutants. Unfortunately, it isn’t going to happen right now. I disliked Age of Apocalypse intensely and Age of X looks to be the same thing through different colored glasses. I hate that it’s running through my regular X-titles.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer – I feel like the Season 8 finale was a satisfying wrap-up to what was kind of a mess. Overall, I can’t say I thoroughly enjoyed what Whedon and company did with the season. I’d love for somebody to put out a “Bootleg Cut” that excised all the over-the-top stuff and the threads that were irrelevant. Actually, I’m tempted to do this myself. But then there’s the letter from Joss at the end, explaining that he knows it wasn’t all good, and that he disliked the same things we did, and that he’d really like to give us all a big hug and just be friends again. And, Lord help me, that made it all seem okay. It looks like Season 9 is going to be Buffy as a mostly solo act once again.
Side note: I re-watched Firefly and Serenity over the past couple of weeks. I take back what I said about Whedon not being capable of directing Avengers. As long as he has somebody competent to tell him when too much dialogue is too much, we’ll be okay.
Green Lantern Titles – Everything continues to be awesome in the world of Green Lantern. Corps and Emerald Warriors are both good to great. I feel like I haven’t read regular GL in a while, though.
Detective Comics – Scott Snyder and Jock created a great new villain and told a very memorable Dick Grayson story with their initial story arc. It had a very satisfying conclusion, as well. If you didn’t read this one, find the issues or pick up the trade when it comes out. I’m still not crazy about Jock’s art, but it suited this story. I hope they keep Snyder on this book for a good, long while though. Did I skip the Gordon story in the last issue? I’m so used to ignoring the last five or six pages of DC titles now…
Black Panther: Man Without Fear – I haven’t read the newest issue yet, but you should love Francesco Francavilla.
Scarlett – I’m still enjoying how uncomfortable this book makes me. I recently ordered the Daredevil trades of Bendis and Maleev’s run, mostly due to this book (but also due to some of Maleev’s older work on Batman that I recently came across).
Batgirl – So, so freaking good. If I had to recommend one book on this list it would be Batgirl. Bryan Q. Miller is consistently entertaining and Dustin Nguyen is providing great artwork. The newest issue features a team-up with Klarion the Witch Boy that is exactly as weird as you think. Please buy this book.
Birds of Prey – Oracle finally died and it was pretty cool. I just wish they could get a regular artist on this title. What was so wrong with Guillame March?
Batman, Inc. – I think #2 was the last one to come out. Is that right? Maybe #3 is in my stack and I just haven’t gotten to it yet.
The Walking Dead – Oh SHIT. There goes the wall. I have this crazy feeling that Rick and his son are going to be the only ones that make it out of this. Maybe Andrea.
Warlord of Mars – The new one is in my stack. I haven’t gotten to it yet. I hope this stays good. I liked the art in #3 a little bit more than the first two.
X-Factor – We just got a great and intriguing Darwin fill-in and then some very interesting stuff with Madrox and Layla. Unfortunately, the next thing we get is Age of X.
Uncanny X-Force – AMAZING wrap-up to the first arc. I can’t believe they did what they did. Rick Remender is making his way to my list of writers to follow. After Franken-Castle and now this, the guy is good.
Ultimate Spider-Man – I can’t believe this title is still as good as it is.
Young Justice – I’m getting caught up on these. I thought I had the upstairs DVR programmed to record them, but I was wrong. Then due to my work schedule being extremely weird lately I missed a couple more. Now I’m up to “Drop Zone” and the show keeps getting better. The characterizations are very good, particularly Superboy and Me’Ghan (is that right?). I’m glad this is turning out better than I thought it would. I still absolutely fucking hate Robin’s voice, which is hard for me because he would normally be my favorite character. Instead I’m going to have to go with Kid Flash.
GI Joe: Resolute – I have very strong mixed feelings about this cartoon. I am enjoying the overall story but I still dislike the design. Honestly, I think I would like it a lot more if it wasn’t called GI Joe. It would make a compelling series if they weren’t so worried about shoehorning GI Joe names and identities into the stories. It almost feels like one of those deals where somebody proposed a concept and the network said, “Oh, we can slap ‘GI Joe’ on that and make some money!” It has good action and great voice work, it just doesn’t fit in with what GI Joe should be. And I fucking hate every single thing about their depiction of Storm Shadow, from his look to his whiny voice to the way he acts. It’s all horribly wrong. And he looks like he has toilet paper wrapped around his head. Oh, how I hate it.
Until next time, stay creepy