Hey Black Adam! What’s it called when somebody hits you with their foot?
Eh, close enough.
After all, who has time for correct spelling when it’s time for another round of the Internet’s Most Grammatically Forgiving Comics Reviews! Here’s what I picked up this week when I wasn’t on the phone telling people we were out of Spider-Man…
…and here’s what I thought of ’em!
Amazing Spider-Man #583: For those of you haven’t bothered to read the sidebar, I work at a comic book store, and while I don’t usually get into the details of my day job here on the ISB (mostly because Mike Sterling already has that market cornered), I gotta say: This thing here was a clusterfuck.
Here’s what happened: Back when it was solicited, there was no mention of the Barack Obama content, and while the fact that there was an Obama cover was mentioned on the Final Order Cutoff, it came during the hectic Christmas/New Year’s period where there were three weeks worth of FOC instead of one. There’s certainly a chance that I might’ve missed something, but to be honest, I found out that there was actually going to be Obama content in the issue at the same time as everyone else, which was about six picoseconds before the phone started ringing from people who wanted to get their hands on a L@@K VALUABLE COLLECTIBLE RARE ITEM!!!
Needless to say, we didn’t have enough to go around, and although there’s a second printing, signs are that we’re going to be running pretty low on those too. There’s a third printing on the way, but it has to be ordered before the second printing hits shelves. From the standpoint of a retailer, the whole thing is nuts, and looks like a diabolical plot to jack up sales on the (possibly overordered) second and third printings while cheesing off the general public by teasing them with the underorderd first print that was gone in seconds.
As a reader, though, I’ve got to say that it worked out a lot better than I thought it would. I’d assumed that the back-up was a rush job that was knocked out to meet an Inauguration Day deadline so they could most effectively capitalize on the zeitgeist, and while it certainly might be, it’s at least an entertaining one. Admittedly, it’s entertaining in a Spidey Super Stories sort of way, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that “Barasket Oballma” didn’t get a chuckle out of me. The art too was better than I thought: I like Todd Nauck a hell of a lot (as both an artist and a writer), but he’s not really the guy you go to when you want photo-realism, and so it can come off as a little jarring when you put Nauck’s “fist bump” panel next to the Phil Jiminez cover. Taken as a whole, though, it’s not bad at all.
As to the main story, well, it’s by Mark Waid and Barry Kitson with a John Romita Sr. cover, and there’s really nothing more to say about it.
So yeah: The book itself was a good idea that was done pretty well, but as far as getting into people’s hands? What a headache.
Captain Britain and MI-13 #9: I’ve mentioned before that Paul Cornell’s Wisdom, which led into the current series, had something just a little bit off about it. It’s one of those books thatsounds like it’d be awesome–Kitty Pryde’s ex-boyfriend fights an army of interdimensional Jack-the-Rippers! The secret origin of Killraven! Shang Chi guest-stars!–but in practice, it didn’t quite live up to its potential.
With Captain Britain, however, Cornell seems to have really hit his stride, and along with Leonard Kirk (of the original Agents of Atlas mini-series), he’s turning in something that’s quickly and quietly become one of Marvel’s best titles. It’s still got the high concept elements that I loved from the mini-seres–Mindless Ones rampaging through Birmingham!–but done in a way that’s even better than it sounds.
But again, I’ve said all that before. I’m just bringing it up now because this is a comic book that ends with DRACULA IN HIS CASTLE ON THE MOON–last seen in the pages of Dr. McNinja: Punch Dracula–saying “prepare phase one of the assault. And get me Doctor Doom,” and that is one hundred percent rad. If you’re not already reading it, you need to be.
Final Crisis #6: Quick warning: This is a review, and as such, it’ll have some spoilers if you haven’t read the comic yet, so keep that in mind. Anyway:
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone at this point, but man, I thought this issue was great.
I can understand that it’s not for everyone, because so many huge swaths of the book–like the inclusion of the Miracle Machine, a Macguffin from the Silver Age Legion, or the way Morrison’s set up the Question as the inspiration for OMAC’s faceless Global Peace Agency, or the fight to the finish between Tawky Tawny and Kalibak that only Andrew and I have been demanding–are specifically geared to what I want to read. I still maintain that it’s not as complicated as a lot of people are making it out to be, but I’ve gotta say: You’re probably going to get a lot more enjoyment out of it if you’re someone who loves the Legion of Super-Heroes, Jack Kirby’s ’70s DC work and DC third-stringers.
And as the last four years of the ISB will show, that is exactly what I am.
Of course, the big deal with this issue is what goes down with Batman, and I gotta say: Batman breaking his one rule and sacrificing his life in order to save the universe by out-drawing the Omega Effect and shooting Darkseid with a time bullet? That shit is off the hook, son! Of course, the standard boilerplate about death in comics being about as lasting as a fruit fly applies–especially with the fact that the Omega Effect can bring people back to life as well as killing them–but still, a pretty cool scene.
Almost as cool as, you know, the first time Batman and Darkseid fought to the death in a comic written by Grant Morrison.
GI Joe #1: Everyone’s favorite daring, highly-trained Special Missions Force relaunches this week under writer Chuck Dixon–or as the Action Age’s Chad Bowers put it, “GI Joe written by comics’ greatest Republican!”–and I gotta say, I’m a little disappointed.
Don’t get me wrong, I generally find Dixon to be a perfectly serviceable writer (if not a spectacular one), and I imagine that GI Joe plays to the guy’s strengths, and I’ve got to admit: While bringing a mysterious high-tech object found in the middle of a bunch of dead bodies to your top-secret headquarters and letting your best soldiers poke at it with sticks might not be standard operating procedure for the military, it’s definitely in keeping with the Joes. And to be fair, I do like that he’s re-establishing a love triangle between Snake Eyes, Duke and Scarlett, but there’s a pretty glaring omission in this thing:
No Cobra Commander.
And most importantly, no Destro.
Step it up, IDW: I need some wrist rockets in my comics.
Invincible #58: Normally, the comic that I pick as the best of the week has something out of the ordinary going on with it to push it over the top, but this one doesn’t. It’s just a really good comic book, and the fact that that’s not out of the ordinary ought to give you an idea of just how good Invincible is.
Which isn’t to say that it’s perfect. I’ve had my problems with the book in the past–including a distaste for the gory fight scenes that was apparently notable enough to get me namechecked in the letter column–but by and large, they come from the frustration of seeing a misstep from a book that gets it so right so often. And it does get it right, and this issue’s a perfect example of how.
In this month’s letter column, Kirkman talks about how this issue was structured on a sixteen-panel grid, and while that’s not something that I really noticed until it was pointed out–seeing as layout’s often best when it doesn’t call attention to itself–it’s a format that lends itself very well to the book’s strengths. After all, this is a book that has one of the best supporting casts in comics today, and with that much space to fill, he’s able to devote time to nine different subplots without shortchanging anyone, while still moving things along with a great teaser at the end. Structurally speaking, it’s like Kirkman figured out the best aspects of what I find so appealing about Bronze Age Marvel books, stripped out everything else, and then used it as the foundation to build one of the most enjoyable super-hero comics ever made, and then gave it to Ryan Ottley, whose art is pretty much perfect.
So yeah, nothing all that out of the ordinary, as long as you don’t consider being one of the best comics on the stands something to write home about.
Punisher War Zone #5: Okay, bear with me here, because what I’m about to say might sound crazy. You know how this story’s based around Ma Gnucci supposedly returning from Hell and regaining control of the Mafia so that she can get her revenge on the Punisher? Right, well, wouldn’t it be totally awesome if instead of the whole thing being a plot by the new Elite to mess with the Punisher’s head, that actually was what was going on, and you had a story where there were demon mobsters rampaging through New York, and the only way to stop them was for the Punisher to regain those crazy angel powers he had for like five minutes back in 1998?
Okay, well, maybe not awesome, but come on: Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon come back for their last Punisher story, and it’s about Angel Punisher? That would be hilarious.
And that’s the week! As always, if you have any questions on something I read this week, or if you just want to talk about the Actual For Real This Time Final Issue of Manhunter and its strange-but-good everything-works-out-okay ending, feel free to leave a comment below.
Seriously, though: Garth Ennis Angel Punisher. It’d be great.