With all the excitement of Dr. Doom’s Mirror-Spidey yesterday, it completely slipped my mind that Wednesday was the first night of Hanukkah. Shameful, I know, but the nice thing about Hanukkah is that even if you miss a day, you’ve still got seven more to make it up.
Still, I guess I’ll just have to wait until next year for an eight-day ISB extravaganza called Hanukkick!, a celebration of the Festival of Lights done entirely in foot-to-face violence! Because really, if someone getting kicked so hard that their entire head turns into a sound effect doesn’t qualify as miraculous, then brother, I don’t know what does.
Until then, however, we’ll just have to content ourselves with another round of the Internet’s Most Festive Comics Reviews! Here’s what I picked up this week…
…and now, let’s find out if I got any comfort and/or joy out of ’em!
The All-New Atom #18: Okay, seriously guys. I know the Atom shrinks and it’s his deal–and that Ray Palmer had the crazy suit in the Silver Age that was invisible at full size and all–but come on, man! Can’t we get that guy a full-sized chair? It’s been like forty-six years!
Oh well. Anything’s better that sitting on Hawkman’s shoulder, I guess, but judging your furniture by how it compares to a half-naked alien cop in a bird costume is no way to get through life, son.
Seating arrangements aside, it’s another fantastic issue from Gail Simone and Mike Norton, with the normal rapid-fire string of craziness that’s as close as modern comics come to guys like Bob Kanigher. And of course, I mean that in the best way possible, because really: There’s no way I’m not going to love a comic where the lead character’s in imminent danger of being murdered by a “Ted Grant Grease-Grabbin’ Grill.” That’s just genius.
Atomic Robo #3: Not since the heyday of Luchadore cinema has their been a battle of Robot versus Mummy this furious!
I’ve been enjoying the heck out of Atomic Robo so far, and while this issue does a pretty nice job of continuing that streak, I’ve got to say that this is probably my least-favorite of the run. It’s not the story per se that’s the problem here; Brian Clevinger’s usual bombast comes right through with a story of the Action Scientists! taking on a mobile, death-ray enabled pyramid powered by Ancient Egyptian computers, and Scott Wegener’s art fits beautifully, especially in the way that he’s able to make Robo, a character with no actual features to speak of, so darn expressive. No, for 90% of the story, it’s great. It’s the ending where it all falls apart.
Specifically, it’s the last panel, where things just explode and the story grinds to a halt. I think the record’ll back me up when I say that I probably like explosions way more than your average guy, and I’m assuming that the next issue’ll pick up with the next part of the story, but the actual issue has no indication whatsoever that that’s the case. Even one more panel could’ve wrapped things up or set them up nicely for the next issue, but that panel never shows up, and I can’t figure out why, especially given that it’s followed almost immediately by a four-page backup.
Still, it’s a fun book, and if you haven’t given it a shot already, it’s well worth checking out. I mean, sudden ending or not, it’s still a comic where guys called the Action Scientists! fight ancient death rays, and that pretty much sells itself.
Avengers: The Initiative Annual #1: I’ve gone on at length about my affection for the Enforcers in the past, and rest assured that it’s pretty much boundless. Only slightly less well-known, however, is my love for the Underground Liberated Totally Integrated Mobile Army To Unite Mankind and their leader, a sinister terrorist mastermind whose only goal appears to be hitting things with his stick.
It doesn’t usually work out too well for him.
Still, I cannot get enough of Flagsmasher and ULTIMATUM, which probably stems from the fact that it was pretty much a rite of passage for any character in the ’90s to team up with the Punisher to stop him from accomplishing his vaguely nefarious schemes around issue #5, and darn it, that’s one tradition that I’m glad to see back.
Beyond that, however–and let’s be honest, folks: Flagsmasher shows up for a grand total of four pages here–Dan Slott, Christos Gage and the art teams do a fine job of filling in the histories of one of the most enjoyable casts in comics, and they even have time to include the secret of unlocking optimum human potential. Great stuff.
ISB BEST OF THE WEEK
House of M: Avengers #2: You know, this thing might as well just be called MARVEL COMICS: THE ’70s.
I mean really: If you went back in time and told me a year ago that I’d not only be reading a House of M spinoff, but enjoying it more than just about anything else on the stands today, I would’ve thought you’d lost your mind. “Listen, pal,” I would’ve said, “I’m sure in 1985 you can buy plutonium at any corner drugstore, but around here, House of M is awful. Just awful.” And yet, here we are with a book by Christos Gage adn Mike Perkins that’s delivering on every bit of potential that it could’ve asked for.
After all, it’s a book that opens up with Luke Cage and Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung Fu, throwing down in an alley, and if you’re reading this on the ISB, then there’s a good chance that’s all you really need to know about why you oughtta be buying it. And of course, there is the small matter of the fact that this issue introduces this guy called Frank, who brings us the most clever bit in the issue.
Admittedly, I probably think about the Punisher more than anyone really should, but if memory serves, part of the deal with House of M was that the Scarlet Witch created the “perfect world,” where everyone got what they wanted. Magneto got a world where mutants were in charge, Spider-Man got a life where he didn’t fail to save Uncle Ben, and so on. And in this, we see Frank Castle, who manages to save his family and still gets to become the one-man crime-fighting badass that he was always meant to be. It’s great.
And it doesn’t stop there, either: From the Sons of the Tiger to the secret origin of “Sweet Christmas,” this thing’s just full of good old-fashioned fun. And punching. But mostly fun.
Justice League of America #15: Earlier tonight, I had a pretty interesting conversation with my pal Chad about his frustrations with this issue. Initially, I didn’t notice too much out of the ordinary going on–mostly because I was basking in the glow of an issue where Firestorm shows up to save everyone, which I honestly don’t think has happened before in my lifetime–with the exception of the really weird scene with Dr. Light and the Cheetah. The more that he pointed out, however, the more I had to concede that he’s right: There’s an awful lot that’s just jumbled up in this issue, from Hawkgirl making a big deal about grabbing a couple of arrows and then never doing anything with them to a scene where Superman beats up Lex Luthor while his friends hold him down. Evil mastermind or not, that’s pretty low class.
And it’s pretty disappointing, too, especially considering how good Dwayne McDuffie’s doing on Fantastic Four, and how much promise his Justice League run showed in the pages of the Wedding Special. Still, there’s so much disconnect between the art and the script in certain places that you’ve got to wonder how much of that goes with Ed Benes, too.
There is one pretty big redeeming quality, however–aside from the fact that it’s still worlds better than the Brad Meltzer run–and that’s the panel included in the shopping list above. I’d pay good money for a book where Lex Luthor just stared pensively at household objects and said the names of third-string super-heroes:
Lex Luthor holds up a pot of gardenias, looking at them wistfully.
LUTHOR: Blue Devil…
It’d be like printing gold.
Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus #4: At this point, I’ve gone on enough about my love of Mike Mignola in general and the pulp-style action of Lobster Johnson specifically, and honestly, four issues into a five-issue series, I don’t think I’m going to win anybody else over here.
However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the “True History of Lobster Johnson” one page text pieces that have appeared as backups in each issue, for the simple reason that this issue details the ’50s and the Lobster’s brief tenure as the Luchadore focus of a series of “amazingly low-budget Mexican horror films.”
And yes. It’s every bit as funny as it sounds.
Robin #169: And now, a blunt, authoritatively stated review in the Mighty Chris Sims Manner:
Hey, you know what’s not very good?
Suburban Glamour #2: And also falling into the category of Things I Don’t Really Think I Need To Say Anymore, we have the absolutely gorgeous art of Jamie McKelvie. By now, there’s no doubt in my mind that you’ve all listened to my constant praising and picked up a copy of McKelvie and Keiron Gillen’s Phonogram and seen for yourself how great the guy’s work is, and just like the pleasant surprise of the first issue, the story stays as entertaining as ever in this one, driven by an extremely engaging cast of characters. But yeah, already said that last month, so let’s skip to the new bit:
In this issue, there’s a scene where Astrid has an appointment with her guidance counselor, who tells her that a career in music or music journalism just isn’t a reasonable goal. And the guy who tells her that? It’s totally Phonogram‘s David Kohl. Seriously, cracked me right up. Well done, McKelvie.
Uncanny X-Men #493: Step off, Evan Dorkin! Back the hell up, Johnny Ryan! Watch your ass, Michael Kupperman! You guys might’ve thought you knew how to do comedy, but Ed Brubaker’s here to show you how it’s really done!
I mean it, man: I haven’t laughed this hard reading a comic since The Cowboy Wally Show, and while I didn’t initally think that was the intent here, it’s hard to argue with a shot of a dour-ass Cable tromping through the jungle wearing a baby harness with a big X-Men logo on it.
And as funny as that is, it’s a mere prelude to the real punchline, which comes when Cyclops mentions that it’s time to “up the stakes,” which Wolverine takes to mean “Go get everyone with a knife and/or claws and go kill my son from the future.” And they call it… X-Force. I had tears in my eyes. Heck, it was almost as great a gag as Chris Giarrusso’s haiku joke.
Saga of the Super-Sons: Ahem:
So yeah. You’re gonna want that.
And that’s the week! As always, any comments, questions or debate on whether it’s my love of Owly or my love of Svetlana Chmakova’s Dramacon that makes me a bigger teenage girl can be left in the comments section below.
As for me, I’ll be trying to find that new issue of Tiger Beat. My store got shorted again!