Finally, I’m writing something for this website.
Yes, it’s another Thursday night, and while pretty much everyone who cares about this sort of thing is paying attention to the San Diego Shindig this week, I’m here for another round of the Internet’s Most Stealthy Comics Reviews!
Here’s what I picked up this week to lessen the anticipation of waiting for Woman of A.C.T.I.O.N.…
Amazing Spider-Man #600: Sharp-eyed ISB readers may have noticed that I’ve been dodging the last few issues of Amazing after the abysmal first couple of chapters of “American Son,” but this is the kind of book that’ll get me back on.
Even at five bucks, it’s one of the best values in comics: 105 pages (64 of which are a complete story by Dan Slott and John Romita Jr.) with no ads, no reprints, contributions from guys like Matt Fraction, Mark Waid, Stan Lee, the always-fantastic Marcos Martin and even–believe it or not–a one-page gag strip by Jeph Loeb that’s actually really guh.
Sorry, it’s been a while since I’ve had to say something like this, let me try it again: A one-page strip by Jeph Loeb that’s actually really good.
Man, that felt weird. But the point here is that the bonus material, as good as it is, is still just icing on the cake. Slott and Romita’s story–which is nominally about Aunt May’s wedding but features far less matrimonial action than I’d expected–would’ve made for three really fun regular issues by itself with its interesting take on Doctor Octopus. It’s not nearly the anniversary celebration that I thought it would be either, and that’s a good thing: Rather than taking a walk down memory lane, Slott and Romita celebrate the past 47 years of Spider-Man in the best way they could, by doing a solid story that touches on what’s good about the character. They even manage to throw in a few guest stars (including, yes, Wolverine) and there’s the almost mandatory team-up that hearkens back not just to the long history of Amazing, but the first issue of Marvel Team-Up as well.
It’s rock-solid stuff, and it’s exactly the sort of thing I wanted it to be. Mostly because I’ve always wanted to see Marcos Martin draw the Spectacular Spider-Ham.
Captain Britain and MI13 #15: With this issue, we bid a fond farewell to Captain Britaina nd MI13, a book that was clearly too, too solid for this world, and I’ve got to say that it’s a pretty big letdown.
Not because of the story itself, though–that part’s pretty awesome–but because it’s almost impossible to read it without feeling morose about the end of such a good book. But even so, it’s good enough to cut through a lot of that, what with the fact that it’s a comic with super-heroes fighting Dracula, pages upon pages of explosions, Union Jack using a seltzer bottle full of Holy Water to fight vampires, and even a special surprise appearance by… well, there oughtta be some secrets left if you haven’t read the issue already, yes? Suffice to say that it’s good stuff, and while Cornell gives it as good an ending as you’d expect, it’s still a damn shame that it has to end at all.
For the apparently large number of you who haven’t read the series, though, I can assure you that canceled or not, it’s still well worth it, and with two trades out now and Vampire State on the way soon, there’s not much of an excuse to not check out what you’ve been missing.
Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #5: Somewhere in the eleven paragraphs of vitriol that I passed off as a review of Blackest Night last week, I mentioned that while I’ve tended to dislike the majority of his recent work, I don’t actually think Geoff Johns is necessarily a bad writer. For all my grousing about looking backwards and how putting nostalgia ahead of innovation is steadily killing comics, there are times when that guy manages to fire on all cylinders and hit me just right with something that’s exactly what I want to see. And this, as you might expect, is one of those times.
I’m just going to go ahead and throw this out here: Legion of 3 Worlds is probably the best thing Geoff Johns has ever written.
There’s a metafictional aspect to the story that I’ll get to in a moment, but before I do, I want to make it clear that there’s a lot to this story that I love in a completely unironic fashion. It is, after all, a big crazy punch-out written with the discerning Legion Fan in mind, and while I might complain about fan-pandering, I’m not immune to it. Plus, the whole thing’s drawn by the legendary George Perez, who does amazing work, throwing in double-page spreads with tons of characters, including Jimmy Olsen. There’s no way I’m not going to like this.
That’s not to say that it’s not without its faults; they’re in there, and in fact, the story’s based around setting yet another property back to the way it was when Johns was a kid so that he can play with his old toys in the pages of Adventure Comics. It’s the same fetish for nostalgia that we’ve seen in his work four or five times now, but for some reason, it doesn’t bother me here as much as it did when he did the same thing to the Flash or Green Lantern or the entire DC Universe. It might be because I’m a big enough fan of the Legion to have written a chapter a book about the team or because the Legion itself has been rebooted, threebooted and retrobooted enough at this point that I’m pretty sure if I don’t like the direction, I can just wait a few years for a new one to come along and hope it’s a return of my own personal One True Legion, but the fact is that I came away loving this comic.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that it’s a friggin’ hoot.
And it is, too: Lending credence to Douglas Wolk’s theory about the Two Geoff Johnses walking the Earth, Superboy Prime has completely evolved from the absolutely terrible character that they were trying so hard to portray as a legitimate threat in Infinite Crisis to a character that’s still sucks, but is written to take advantage of that rather than to deny it. His self-consciously lame attempts at fight banter alone shows that we’re not meant to take him seriously, and even though he’s been fighting the Legion for, oh, eleven months now, there’s not really much of an attempt to show him as a real villain. This, I imagine, is why the Legion ends up beating him in the absolute stupidest way possible by getting more and more Legionnaires to show up and punch him, and when they run out, they just go get more Legionnaires. There’s a ridiculous, wonderful kind of genius to that.
The best part, though, is the end, where Superboy Prime is returned to Earth-Prime and decides that the best way to get his revenge is by–and this seriously happens–logging on to the DC Comics message boards and bitching about the story on the Internet. That shit is hilarious.
Not just because it underscores the continuing metaphor for Prime as the petulant comics fan who can’t stand that the stories are panning out in a way that he doesn’t like, but because I couldn’t help but imagine Prime spending his time on the Internet talking about comics–maybe even staying up ’til 3 AM on Thursday nights writing hate-filled screeds wondering whose bright idea it was to do a story about Zombie Golden Glider–then maybe one day being able to break into comics and finally getting the chance to change things back to how he wants them to be.
So yes: The fact that DC just did a story where a stand-in for the Comics Internet was ruthlessly beaten by the Legion of Super-Heroes and then blasted out of the universe when it got in a fight with itself is pretty funny, but the fact that the guy writing the story where the villain wants to make comics more like they were when he was a kid is a guy who has made his entire career making comics more like they were when he was a kid? That’s even funnier.
Immortal Weapons #1: I don’t normally do this sort of thing, since there’s always the off chance that someone’s reading my reviews in order to make an informed purchase rather than just showing up to confirm their own opinions and/or argue with me about how I dared to say such horrible things about their favorite character or not show the proper reverence to a title (this week’s Usagi Yojimbo trade is awesome, by the way), and I don’t like spoiling the important moments for people who haven’t read them yet. This time, however, there’s something I’ve pretty much got to share, and that is that in this issue, Jason Aaron–whose run on Ghost Rider gave us both a supernatural Smokey and the Bandit and the vengeful spirit of Lone Wolf McQuade–wrote the following caption:
“In 1939, you were the sole survivor of a team of Kung Fu Commandoes put together by British Hero Union Jack to take down Hitler’s secret death squad of S.S. Ninjas led by the notorious butcher Herr Samurai.”
If you have any doubts about whether you should be reading this comic book, then brother, you’re on the wrong website.
Invincible #64: My love/hate relationship with Invincible–which is really more of a love/love slightly less relationship–is something that I’ve been through more than once here on the ISB, but for those of you just joining us, here’s the basics: I have a distaste for the extreme violence that Robert Kirkman and Ryan Ottley use in the book. Kirkman makes a strog defense for it in this issue, citing Invincible as a rare book that can contain everything from romance to lighthearted fun to brutal violence, the latter’s just not really my thing, and I’ve resigned myself to the fact that it’s just something I’ll have to deal with in order to enjoy the rest of a truly fantastic comic.
Then I read this issue, where Invincible totally fucking headbangs a dude to death.
Seriously. That is what happens. It is the most metal thing I have ever seen in a comic book, and I’ve read at least fifty issues of The Savage Sword of Conan. And I loved it.
Congratulations, Robert Kirkman. You win again.
Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #53: Marvel’s been promoting this one pretty heavily over the past few months, which itself is something of an anomaly. After all, they don’t generally tend to go out of their way to turn readers on to their kid-friendly Adventures line, but there have been previews and house ads for it in most of their all-ages titles for a while now to promote the arrival of the new creative team, Paul Tobin and Matteo Lolli.
It’s sort of redundant to say that they’re doing it as a new jumping-on point–as the Adventures titles are designed as one-issue stories so that every issue is a good jumping-on point–but that’s exactly what they’ve done here. The story feels like a new direction, introducing a couple of new cast members (Gwen Stacy, with whom I imagine you’re familiar, and a character that I think is new named Chat, who talks to animals, mostly about food) as well as the mandatory origin recap. To be fair, though, the origin recap is framed in a neat enough way that it doesn’t seem as much of a detraction from the story as it might otherwise.
I don’t imagine that there are too many people out there looking to jump on a kid-friendly title if they aren’t already reading them, but Tobin, like Jeff Parker, is an amazingly talented writer that manages to knock it out of the park with his all ages work–like he did in the incredible Dr. Doom mini-series from a few months ago–and Lolli does a great job with the art, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what they do.
Personally, I’m holding out hope that the Green Goblin still chucks Gwen off a bridge, but owing to the fact that it’s a kids’ book, he does it on the day of the 26th Annual Brooklyn Bridge Trampoline Festival, and everything works out okay.
Myspace Dark Horse Presents v.3: Twenty years of buying comics and you’d think I’d know better, but yesterday, I accidentally bought a comic that included an Emily the Strange story. This is, I assure you, to my eternal shame.
Still, it does raise an interesting philosophical question: All other things being equal and using the Usagi Yojimbo story as a control, is buying an anthology that includes Emily the Strange balanced out if the anthology also contains an eight-page Achewood story where Ray, Teodor and Roast Beef eat every item on the Taco Bell menu? The mind boggles.
Annnnnnnnnnnd that’s the week! As always, any comments or concerns can be left in the comments section below, like if you’re wondering if the sound effects in Incredible Hercules could possibly get any better than they already have been (yes, they can), or if you’re looking for a review of the last couple issues of Wednesday Comics (Pal Dave has one, and honestly, who woulda thought Dan Didio’s Metal Men would be that good, even with Nowlan and JLGL?), that’s the place to ask.
Well, not now, as I’ve just answered them and you’d look silly. And we wouldn’t want that, now would we?