Since this is quite possibly the last installment of the Week In Ink as we know it, what do you say we get things started right?
What I’m trying to say here is that it was a pretty good week.
How good? Well, that’s what you’ll find out tonight on the Internet’s Most Ultimate Comics Reviews! Here’s what I picked up this week…
…and here’s what I thought about ’em!
Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #3: Before we get too far into tonight’s reviews, I wanted to mention this one. I don’t usually review comics I don’t actually buy and Blackest Night: Wonder Woman was one of the books that didn’t make the cut when I trimmed down my sub to reflect my new employment status. Still, I did get a chance to leaf through it today at the shop (yes, I know, this ain’t a library and I’m killing comics) and given the amount of venom I spat at the last issue, I thought it might be worth mentioning.
I’ve got to say, I liked this issue a lot more than the previous one. It might just be that my initial anger that the whole concept has had time to cool down, but just the fact that Wonder Woman didn’t spend the whole issue going “please… no…” was a pretty major improvement. I think the key was to get her back to actually fighting villains, and the fact that Rucka was able to work in a literal response to the eternal bondage jokes without having it seem forced into the dialogue was not only a nice touch, but it actually made me think about that stuff in a way that I hadn’t before. And Nicola Scott’s art, of course, was just beautiful. Even the ridiculous Star Sapphire costumes look better in this one than they normally do.
Which isn’t to say that they’re not spinning gold out of complete and utter nonsense. Everything I said last month still applies; loving everything in the world is still the definition of compassion, Wonder Woman shouldn’t be relying on something outside of herself, and seriously, I never need to see another person who is not Green Lantern talk about how super-awesome it is to have a power ring. Also, I have no idea where Rucka was going with the scene where Wonder Woman talks about how Mera’s rage is at herself. Just going from the panels, it seemed like it was a parallel with Wonder Woman never telling Batman she was totally in love with him, but given that Mera was actually married to Aquaman, I can’t see how. But that might be on me, as the things I know about Mera are limited to: a) She was Aquaman’s wife, and b) there is a tiny plastic gamepiece of her vomiting an insane amount of blood coming out soon. You know, for the kids.
(SIDENOTE: If Wonder Woman wanted to express her love for Batman, she probably should’ve just started a comics blog. It’s what I did.)
But like I said: When it’s actually about Wonder Woman fighting bad guys, it’s great. It’s when it has to deal with everything else that the character’s wrapped up in with the rest of Blackest Night that’s the trouble.
Nova #34: Okay so look: Everybody already knows that Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning can write really fun outer-space super-heroics. In fact, everyone who was paying attention already knew that like ten years ago when they were writing Legion of Super-Heroes. It’s old news! So how about we just talk about Man-Wolf for a minute.
I’m totally serious here, guys: How friggin’ awesome is Man-Wolf? First of all, his dad is the third-best Marvel character ever, but that barely even comes into consideration in how great he is, because he’s also an astronaut werewolf barbarian king from another dimension. Anywhere else, just one of those things would be enough to define a character, but in the Core Marvel Universe, it takes all four and he’s not even one of the top tier guys. And in this issue, he fights a time traveling mermaid princess. In space.
I think I may have mentioned this before, but guys, I totally love comic books.
Wolverine: Weapon X #10: As far as writing awesome comics goes, it’s been a pretty good week for Jason Aaron. Heck, let’s be honest here: In that regard, it’s been a pretty good two years for Jason Aaron, and this issue’s a great example of why.
It’s not just that he gets the characters that he writes, although he definitely does, and that’s certainly a big part of it. He’s a guy that understands that Ghost Rider is a guy who rides a motorcycle with his head on fire, and so he needs to fight giant demonic backhoes. And he gets that the Punisher needs to have truly horrible people to shoot in the face. And he gets Wolverine.
You’d think that’d be pretty simple–guy has claws, guy stabs things, guy is best there is etc.–but as a direct function of his thirty odd years of incredible popularity, Wolverine’s become a deceptively complex character with a lot of facets that are often directly opposed to each other. It’s something that Aaron’s tackled in a couple of stories, and he tackles it here again in a way that manages to make everything work. What really sells it, though, is that Aaron doesn’t shy away from the ridiculous bits of that history. He’s not afraid to make Wolverine funny, or to use him as the straight man who gets the punchline (or as seen above, the facekick), and it brings a tone to the stories that you don’t often see.
Also, he writes about guys with chainsaws for hands, and, well, you know.
Crogan’s March: This week saw the release of Chris Schweizer’s second installment of the Crogan adventures, and I loved it just as much as the first.
For those of you who missed my unabashed excitement the first time around, the deal here is that each book tells the story of a different member of a family whose history includes pirates, escape artists, minutemen, gunslingers, ninjas and–in this volume–a member of the French Foreign Legion, with each story told as a life lesson passed down to the family’s youngest member. If it sounds a little strange, that’s because it is, mostly because of the ambition that’s led Schweizer to plot out a series of sixteen graphic novels based around a family tree, but it’s largely because of that ambition that I’ve been in love with the concept since I first heard about it.
And the best part is that it lives up to it. The stories are rich and detailed, and while the idea of object lessons from a family history sounds like it could be the most boring thing since The Uncanny Paint-Dryers, they’re genuinely thrilling. The characters are done well enough that he rarely spends time on explaining relationships, instead letting things just play out organically, and the framing sequences that I thought were surprisingly entertaining the first time around (surprising because I had no idea they were giong to be in there) held up very, very well. It’s the art, though, that makes the book: Deceptively clean, cartoony linework that gives way to crowded battle scenes and detail down to the filigree on the barrels of muskets. I’m sure the comparison to Jeff Smith has been made more than enough by now, but with the clean, effective storytelling, it’s easy to see why.
Iron Man and the Armor Wars: I mentioned Joe Caramagna and Craig Rousseau’s all-ages Iron Man story when it was coming out in single issues, but now that it’s out in trade, it’s worth mentioning again: I loved this comic.
I’ll admit that it was a little weird for me going in; the original Armor Wars is probably my favorite Iron Man story, and I was leery of a book that was going to be a direct re-telling along the lines of the failed “Marvel Age” books from before they did the “Adventures” line. Instead, what I got was a fantastic all-ages story that took that title and did it in a completely different way, setting up a story where Tony Stark has to fight super-villains that have stolen all of his old suits of armor, starting with his original and working their way up.
Just the idea of Iron Man fighting a bunch of different versions of himself is one of those hooks that I could read all day long, and the fact that Caramagna throws in stuff like Dr. Doom loaning Stark a spare suit of Doom armor so that you can get a fight scene where Dr. Doom’s the good guy and Iron Man’s the bad guy? That stuff pushes my fan buttons just right, and it ended up being one of my favorite stories of last year.
I will say, though, that there is an oddity in the paperback. In addition to the four-part story, it also has the first part of the original Armor Wars from 1987’s Iron Man #225. It’s weird, because it’s just the first part of a story, but even weirder because it’s immediately followed by an ad that advises you to check out the Armor Wars trade, and while you see that sort of thing in MMPB novels all the time, I think this is the first time I’ve seen it in comics. Also, as Caramagna and Rousseau’s version is directed more towards kids, it seems like telling them to go read Iron Man: Armor Wars after they just read Iron Man and the Armor Wars (which annoyingly leaves “and the” off the cover) would be confusing as heck.
But again, they are different stories, and I’m living proof that it’s possible to love both of ’em, and while that struck me as a truly bizarre marketing decision, the real draw here is the story itself. And brother, there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.
And that’s the week! If you’ve got any (FINAL?!) questions about something I read this week, or if you just want to talk some more about Jason Aaron and how he knows how to end a Ghost Rider run, then feel free to leave a comment below.