In the imaginary world where people are so impressed with my dedication to Batman that they stop me on the street to chat about it, I’m often asked just why it is I love comics, and after this week, I have a new answer for them:
I love them because in comics, a college professor can shrink down to the subatomic level and then kick Jetpack Hitler right in the face.
That, incidentally, is roughly eighty times more awesome than anything I witnessed in my own academic career, which, now that I think of it, is probably why I dropped out.
But not before I learned that the key to good writing lies in hyperbole and spite, which brings us once again to these, the Internet’s Most Bare-Knuckled comics reviews! Here’s what I ended up buying…
…and this is what I thought of ’em.
The All-New Atom #14: When I reviewed the latest issue of Birds of Prey, I mentioned that a lot of Gail Simone’s recent work has been steadily losing interest for me, and I’ll be honest with you: Even with pure gems of dialogue like last month’s “Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!” The All-New Atom hasn’t really been an exception. With this issue, though, Simone, Mike Norton, and Trevor Scott turn that around with what is easily one of the most flat-out enjoyable comics I’ve read all year.
It’s nothing short of amazingly fun action right from the start, and while I’ve already spoken of the magic that is Ryan Choi vs. Jetpack Hitler above, that’s just scratching the surface of an issue that includes that scene in the same three-page sequence that brings us an army of the dead boasting Captain Boomerang and Orca the Whale Woman, Ted Kord leaping into action to fight cavemen and vikings, and the Atom punching a horse right in the face. It’s as close to my ideal comic as DC seems likely to put out, and what’s more, Simone does it in an issue that’s a Countdown tie-in featuring Jason Todd and Donna Troy. Given my opinion of Countdown as a black hole from which no fun could escape, I’ll admit to thinking that it couldn’t be done, but All-New Atom pulls it off, and it’s been a long time since I’ve been this happy to be wrong.
Fantastic Four #548: I’m just going to come right out and say it: I just don’t really get the Frightful Four. I know, I know, I’ve said a million times on the ISB that I’m a sucker for “evil opposite” teams, but I think it just comes down to the fact that they don’t really seem like that much of a threat. They are led, after all, by the Wizard, a guy whose major claim to fame is that he doesn’t have wings, which really isn’t that hard of a trick to master.
Okay, admittedly, his actual talent is that he’s able to fly without wings, but still: Unless you have an epithet as awe-inspiring as The Devourer of Worlds, you can’t really expect to be able to put on a purple helmet and be taken seriously while you fight the FF, no matter what rotating roster of super-villain scrubs you tag along.
My personal issues with the team, however, do absolutely nothing to stop me from enjoying this comic, which stands every month as one of the main reasons why Dwayne McDuffie is finally getting his recognition as one of the top-tier writers in the industry. There just really aren’t enough good things to say about his work, and this issue’s no exception, with a compelling, well-structured story that shows even the Trapster–whom I have never seen actually trap someone in 20 years of reading Marvel comics–shown to be a legitimate threat, if only because Black Panther acknowledges him as one. This is, of course, done during the course of the four panels it takes T’Challa to take him out of action, but still: McDuffie’s characterized Black Panther as a guy who knows what’s going on, and half the fun of the book is seeing him constantly a step ahead of the villains, from Galactus on down to the Wizard. It’s great stuff, and Paul Pelletier’s art only serves to put this one over the top, once again making sure that FF may actually be what they’ve always said it was: The World’s Greatest Comics Magazine.
Irredeemable Ant-Man #11: By now, you’ve probably all heard that Irredeemable Ant-Man‘s getting the axe next issue. And if not, well, surprise! The book about the adventures of a character designed solely to be as completely unsympathetic as possible just didn’t pull in the readers they thought they’d get. It’s not that it’s a bad comic (although to be fair, the best I can say about it is that it’s mediocre with the occasional really good scene), but as I’ve said before, the whole thing just seems to defeat itself right from the premise.
Take this issue, for instance, where SHIELD agent Mitch Carson finally catches up with our protagonist and reveals himself to be a power-hungry multiple murderer, which leads to a scene where one sociopath tortures another for a few pages without any indication as to why we’re supposed to care. What really makes it interesting, though, is the scene that follows, where Eric’s given every opportunity to redeem himself, and chooses instead to live up to the title of the story. I suppose at this point that there’s no real point in changing him–and I’ll probably be a little disappointed if he shows a shred of humanity in next month’s finale–but, well, that’s the whole problem, isn’t it?
Metal Men #1: As long-time readers of the ISB may remember from last year, I freakin’ love the Metal Men, and after thrilling to their appearance in the best part of 52, I’ve really been looking forward to this series. To be fair, though, I was really only excited about because of my love of the characters themselves; I’ve enjoyed Duncan Rouleau’s art in the past but never actually read anything he’s written, so he was stil a pretty unknown quantity for me.
As it turns out, though, there’s a lot to like in the first issue: Rouleau wastes absolutely no time getting things started, kicking the eight-issue mini-series off with Atlantean sorcery, time travel, deadly toasters, and the obligatory explosive destruction of the Metal Men, and that’s all in the first half of the book. Even the little characterization for the Metal Men themselves are done pretty much on the fly, and while this leads to some pretty great lines from Lead (known, of course, for being dense), the all-new Copper (which always seemed like a pretty natural choice to me) doesn’t really get a chance to be established. Either way, it’s the sort of all-out anything goes storytelling that evokes the fast-paced feel of the original Robert Kanigher stories, and with the way that he’s building off of Grant Morrison’s concepts, Rouleau’s off to a pretty solid start here.
New Warriors #3: Continuing the biggest surprise of the summer, we’re three months in and New Warriors is still pretty awesome. I mean really: The last time I was this surprised by a comic being this good was Planet Hulk, and while I’m not quite sure if I’ll end up liking this one as much as I enjoyed seeing the Hulk beat up on alien gladiators for sixteen issues, it’s not that far off.
Of course, that may just be because Kevin Grevioux and the always-entertaining Paco Media are showing me exactly what I want to see in this book, from the apparent return of Night Thrasher to the fact that the Warriors are training in one of Arcade’s abandoned Murderworlds. Even without the bits that combine my perfect blend of nostalgia and abject radness, though, Grevioux is handling things beautifully with–and I seriously cannot believe I’m saying this–a great character moment between Wolverine and Jubilee. Seriously, it has to be seen to be believed.
Supergirl #20: Yeah, I know. Normally, I’d be just as surprised as you to see this one show up with my stuff, but I’ve actually been looking forward to this for a while, and not just because she’s hitting Karate Kid with an engine block next issue.
Of course, that’s most of the reason why I’m excited, but it also has a lot to do with the arrival of new writer Tony Bedard. In the past, he’s been hit-or-miss with me, but after reading the interview he gave a while back about his views on the character and how he thinks she should be treated in the DCU, I was pretty sure that his take on Supergirl was something that I wanted to read. And surprisingly, it is, as the story sees a more likable Kara than we’ve seen anywhere outside of the 31st century fighting a cyclops and saving lives.
But the real draw here–no pun intended–is artist Renato Guedes, who does some truly wonderful work. Ever since her return at the hands of Mike Turner and the launch of the series with Ian Churchill, the latest version of Supergirl’s been criticized (rightly, if you asked me) for her rail-thin, oversexualized appearance, but here, Guedes’ work blows them all away, and he does it without offering exploitation and calling it beauty. Here’s hoping these guys stick around for a while, and that this book finally gets the readability it deserves.
Uncanny X-Men #489: Okay, seriously? If you can sit there and tell me that there is anything about the phrase: “Skids: Agent of SHIELD” that is not totally awesome, then you are a filthy, filthy liar. Believe it.
World War Hulk #3: It occurred to me today that while I’ve covered a few of the tie-ins, I haven’t actually reviewed an issue of World War Hulk here on the ISB, and I think the reason for that is pretty clear: The absolute last thing that anybody needs me to tell them is that a story where the Hulk fights what pretty much amounts to the entire Marvel Universe is awesome. And besides, I already told you once.
I mean, let’s be real for a second: The Hulk going on a rampage is one of those stories that’s so fundamentally hard to screw up that it would be astonishing if this series wasn’t good, and yet it’s still surprising how good this book’s actually turning out to be. Simply put, Greg Pak is at the top of his game here, balancing out the violence of the Hulk suplexing a helicopter with the scenes opposite Dr. Strange where he turns back into Bruce Banner, literally revealing a side of himself that still feels pain without the ability to turn it into anger. And then it’s right back to it with Iron Fist fighting the Oldstrong, Dr. Strange unleashing mysterious eldritch powers, and comics readers everywhere flipping out about how awesome this thing is. It’s huge, loud, violent, and pretty much exactly what a summer crossover should be.
And really, if that was the last thing anybody needed to be told, then the fact that John Romita Jr. draws beautiful comics is a close, close second.
And that’s the week. As always, if you’ve got any comments about something I read or questions about why I left it on the shelf–or if you just want to take my word for it and grab your own copy of Scott Chantler’s awesome, highly entertaining Northwest Passage hardcover–feel free to drop a comment below.
As for me, I’ll be over here trying to figure out if this is the most awesome thing I have ever seen:
Jughead versus Jetpack Hitler! I believe this was to be the sequal to the Rocketeer!
Jetpack Hitler vs. Jetpack Jughead! MAKE IT HAPPEN, DC & ARCHIE COMICS!
Damn it, Jeff got posted earlier!
While I’m not a fan of countdown “invading” all the other DC comics, I must suggest at least reading the last two issues of action comics. Sure the first issue of the arc was a lame tie-in to countdown, but this month issue was pretty good. And come on, since it looks like next months issue is an all out beat down where Mr. Action, Jimmy Olsen himself, teams up with Kryto the Superdog to save Superman from the Kryptonite man, awesomness is pretty much built right in. Sounds almost ripped out of the silver age!
PS: Next time you have writers block, go find some Silver Age Krypto. I Still giggle about the “Super-dog Arms Race.”
What’d you think of She-Hulk this week, Chris? I’m especially interested because I don’t really read any other mainstream Marvel books and I’m curious to know if there was stuff I wasn’t getting about this issue, based on what was happening elsewhere.
Chris, when I was reading All-New Atom, I immediately thought you when I saw jetpack Hitler getting kicked in the face.
“Stupid jetpack Hitler!” I must use that in everyday conversation…
“No, not the red one, stupid jetpack Hitler. The green one.”
I don’t know, I mean, it’s Jetpack Jughead…but it’s Jughead. With a jetpack.
That practically ensures he’ll manage to crash into something and get it destroyed in seven pages.
While I’m still loving the Warriors relaunch their were a couple bits that bothered me. 1: Tempest’s costume. What the hell kind of faux sports bra thing is she wearing? PULL UP YOUR DAMN PANTS! You’re crime fighting, not clubbing!
2: Where the female cop talks about meeting Spider-Man and wonders “what if” he’d screwed up when saving her and her dad. Yeah, and what if he wasn’t there because Tony Stark threw him in Nega-tanamo? Remember the days when non-cape support characters weren’t idiots?
3: Wolverine warning Jubes, that its a darker more violent place. So the guy she first met after he was crucified by killer cyborgs is warning the girl WHO WAS CRUCIFIED ON THEIR FRONT LAWN that its a dangerous world. Ya think?
Patrick Swayze’s trucking movie Black Dog was on BBC1 last night, and when I saw a truck plough through a fuel-pump at a gas station, explode, then drive into a huge petroleum tanker and explode again, I said to myself: “That’s *so* Chris Sims.” It’s the new Airwolf.
I know you don’t do reviews of individual Punisher issues in your weekly reviews anymore, but man, how about the last panel of Punisher #50? I mean, is some serious shit is going to hit the fan here, or what?
I have to say, no matter how badass Barracuda is, there is no way in hell he’ll survive this sequence. Because he has, apparently, found the one thing that can make Frank Castle even more angry.
Anyway, what are your thoughts on this arc?
Re: Hulk awesomeness
I have this theory were The Death of Superman is the Superman vs. Hulk throwdown comic readers really deserve, and read in that light, is actually really good. Am I the only person out there advancing this theory?
I mean, you have a big gray brick with a limited vocabulary and a temper problem who gets around by jumping really far and Superman has to beat on him for, like, three straight comics before they both fall over dead. And along the way, the Hul^H^H^HDoomsday kicks the holy living snot out of a bunch of second stringers, just to show that he’s really a problem.
Not really. I mean, the Superman Doomsday fight is inherently idiotic because it assumes that when faced with someone who has incredible strength and endurance the automatic answer is “I’ll stand here and punch him in the face over and over”.
When, you know, he’s SUPERMAN. The fact that he FLIES along is an amazing advantage over Doomsday.
And wow, I’ve drifted horribly off-topic.
Yeah, I always wondered why ol’ Supes didn’t just grab Doomsday and supersonically fly him up to the surface of Mercury, or something. Problem solved in a minute flat, tops. Much better to panel his melon mercilessly for twenty-odd splash pages…
I always assumed that it was because being at close quarters with Doomsday without actively defending yourself was a good way to die, even if you’re Superman. I mean, he did try, as I recall; Doomsday nearly punched his head off and forced Superman to drop him.
Doomsday is just plain stronger than Superman. Grappling is not a good strategy.
What? No New Avengers: Illuminati? I realize the boots to the head are few and far between in this book, but it’s still overflowing with awesomeness. This week, woman problems.
NBarnes, that is an awesome take on the Death of Superman. Now I’m gonna have to pull out my trade and reread the whole thing.
Don’t, Jeff: you’ll only regret it. Don’t make us all organise an intervention…
Right on Erik! Illuminati was much better than last issue. Nothing funnier than Tony Stark admiting he slept with Madame Masque.
I have a question on the subject of awesomeness. Jimmy Olsen is awesome, right?
Because I don’t see an Action Comics on your list. And it was Jimmy Olsen as Mr. Action teaming up with Superman against The Kryptonite Man and Kryptonite Moneky. And while there were no giant drunk Scottish robots in kilts this week, there was Dr. Sivana’s invention, the evil opposite of the Internet….
That curved black line on the jetpack’s circular medallion looks eerily like the Hawkman logo. Did Jughead get his mitts on some Nth metal?
STUPID JETPACK JUGHEAD!
Chris–I believe you were absent from class the day I kicked jetpack Hitler in the face. Perhaps you had some trouble waking up that day?
Of course, the kicking was metaphorical.
And so was the jetpack.
No New Avengers: Illuminati review? I thinght that comic was awesome. Especially Namor tellign Reed how he’s tried to grab Sue from him.
I think my spelling in the previous post is awesome too.
I find myself slowly falling in love with whoever Paul Pelletier draws nowadays.
Not to nitpick, Chris, but have you dropped Welcome To Tranquility? Turns out an element from the Zeke flashback from last issue is coming by to mess shit up. Also, there’s a back-up story with a supernatural cowboy character and the spirits that guide him. That has to do something for you.
I agree completely as to the inherent lameness of the Frightful Four. I have been making my way through the Essential Fantastic Four, and one of the things that bug me is that they are supposed to be “evil opposites” of the FF, but not only don’t they mirror the Fantastic Four but none of the four members had any beef with the team. Prior to the Wizard, Sandman, and Paste-Pot-Pete (God I love that) meeting up and randomly deciding to take on Reed, Sue, Ben, and Johnny their paths had never before crossed. There’s no real motivation to be the big opposite number.
Oh, and I think Planet Hulk is the complete opposite of Civil War, and that is a very good thing.
you know, ironically enough, I was majoring in Speedballing at BU.
“Stupid jetpack Hitler”
When did DC comics go all awesome on me?
Whatâ€™d you think of She-Hulk this week, Chris?
Well, Prankster, I’m glad you asked. More than anything else, this issue of She-Hulk reminded me of the last issue of Dan Slott’s The Thing, which was obviously a clearing house for plots he would’ve used had the book not been cancelled. My guess is that, even though he’s still on through the next couple issues, this was Slott’s attempt to get it all out before he left the book, and like most of the stuff that guy does, it turned out pretty well and highly entertaining.
That practically ensures heâ€™ll manage to crash into something and get it destroyed in seven pages.
You’re half right: The jetpack crashes, but it’s not until Weatherbee puts it on, which somehow results in Jughead getting to eat a twelve-foot pizza.
I know you donâ€™t do reviews of individual Punisher issues in your weekly reviews anymore, but man, how about the last panel of Punisher #50? I mean, is some serious shit is going to hit the fan here, or what?
I actually thought about reviewing this one, since it’s the big 50th issue, but cut it out for time reasons. Suffice to say that while the Ennis Punisher is built around an enjoyable if almost completely set forumla, this one stuck out ahead of the rest. Usually, the first few issues are reserved for getting the antagonists to the point where you really, really want Frank to kill them, but with Barracuda, who has been well-established in the previous story as well as his own mini-series, that’s already done, leaving him to just up the stakes and get to the violence.
And that’s really the sort of thing Garth Ennis excels at, isn’t it?
What really surprised me, though, was the art: I’d forgotten Chaykin was doing this issue, and while I haven’t been a fan of his work as an artist of late, I think he does a pretty good job of it. His style would seem to completely run contrary to what you’d want out of the Punisher, but aside from putting Barracuda into a paisley suit (which, really, Chaykin?) there’s nothing that gets too overly Chaykinesque in this one.
All This Stuff About Doomsday…
Last year, Roger Stern called into our Comics Club meeting at work to talk about Superman, and he ended up devoting a lot of that time to discussing the Death of Superman storyline. He mentioned that instead of doing something with Lex Luthor, who is the ultimate cerebral villain who fights purely based on his mind, they wanted to give Superman something he hadn’t had in a while: A completely physical opponent that would match him in strength.
Read with that in mind, I think it works out a little bit better, but–and I hate to say this–I still think it’s pretty amazingly stupid that Superman dies because he gets punched to death by a monster with bone-claws.
What? No New Avengers: Illuminati?
Yeah, I hate to tell you guys this, but I stopped reading Brian Bendis comics when that guy decided it’d be a good idea for Wolverine to yell “STOP RAPING ME!” three times on one page, and the hard-line stance against even trying to making sense that NA:I has taken with the first few issues doesn’t really pull me back in.
That said, I did think the line, “Why would you sleep with a woman who looks like Doctor Doom?” was pretty amusing. Not amusing enough to actually buy it, but it got a chuckle.
I have a question on the subject of awesomeness. Jimmy Olsen is awesome, right?
Of course he is, but his appearances in Countdown have been disappointing to say the least (at least, they were when I was still reading it), so I skipped out. For some reason, there’s just something about Jimmy being “Mr. Action” the super-hero (as opposed to “Mr. Action” the crazy reporter with an international fan club, disguise trunk, and stewardess girlfried) just doesn’t sit well with me. I guess I’ll give it a read, though.
Of course, the kicking was metaphorical.
And so was the jetpack.
The Hitler, however, was all real.
Not to nitpick, Chris, but have you dropped Welcome To Tranquility?
Yeah, I did. It got to the point where I realized that I was only reading it because I like Gail Simone’s other work so much, which led to me being bored to tears every month. I hate to say it (because I am a fan of hers), but there’s absolutely nothing that I saw in Welcome to Tranquilty that I haven’t seen done far better elsewhere, and once you’ve realized that, there’s no reason to keep reading it.
The kick to Jetpack Hitler is equally as cool as Ted and Ryan’s lines
Ted(after the parade) Crossover. A big event around here.
Ryan: Jetpack Hitler. Reality has officially jumped the shark.
I have to say this week, including K-man and K-monkey was just one of those weeks of pure awesome that seems to only drop once every three months.
World War Hulk continues to impress. Zom!
It’s weird though, my sense of timing. I was reading the Jetpack Hitler bit while watching the Kamen Rider Todoroki/Zanki Jam Session and my mind was blown by the awesomeness. http://youtube.com/watch?v=nYa6zEZfdSI for said jam session.
Sims: Last year, Roger Stern called into our Comics Club meeting at work to talk about Superman, and he ended up devoting a lot of that time to discussing the Death of Superman storyline. He mentioned that instead of doing something with Lex Luthor, who is the ultimate cerebral villain who fights purely based on his mind, they wanted to give Superman something he hadnâ€™t had in a while: A completely physical opponent that would match him in strength.
One of the things about that entire arc was… Superman is (repeating myself here) fighting a big gray brick with a limited vocabulary, a temper problem, who gets around by jumping a really long way. Did they not notice they were making Superman vs. The Hulk?
Also, Hulk vs. Sentry in World War Hulk: if this is the flip side of that, a really good Marvel take on Superman vs. The Hulk, I would be, as Sims says, freaking out.
“Of course, the kicking was metaphorical.
And so was the jetpack.
The Hitler, however, was all real.”
Yes, he was. Don’t you remember Steve Hitler, who sat three rows behind you? Man, that guy would not shut up.
Jetpack Jughead SEEMS awesome, until you realize he grows up to be Jetpack Hitler.
Weatherbee may have saved his Earth by destroying the Jetpack when he did.
Your lackluster, lukewarm response to Ant-Man confuses and enrages me.
ENRAGES ME WITH CONFUSION
“…but not only donâ€™t they mirror the Fantastic Four but none of the four members had any beef with the team. Prior to the Wizard, Sandman, and Paste-Pot-Pete (God I love that) meeting up and randomly deciding to take on Reed, Sue, Ben, and Johnny their paths had never before crossed. Thereâ€™s no real motivation to be the big opposite number.” — Semanticdrifter
You really need to read your Essential Human Torch. Both the Wizard and Paste-Pot Pete both got their starts as Torch foes, and the majority of Sandman’s early appearances were against Johnny, too–in fact, Sandman’s second appearance ever was in an issue of Strange Tales.
A united hate against the Torch gave the Frightful Four plenty of reasons to loathe the FF.
[i]More than anything else, this issue of She-Hulk reminded me of the last issue of Dan Slottâ€™s The Thing, which was obviously a clearing house for plots he wouldâ€™ve used had the book not been cancelled. My guess is that, even though heâ€™s still on through the next couple issues, this was Slottâ€™s attempt to get it all out before he left the book, and like most of the stuff that guy does, it turned out pretty well and highly entertaining.[/i]
Yeah, I suspected as much, it’s just that Jen’s offhand comment about Iron Man “turning off her nanites for World War Hulk” made me suspect that I was getting summaries of stuff that had happened elsewhere. Anyway, that’s a shame–I know Slott couldn’t write the book forever, and he’s on Spiderman now, which I assume is like his dream job, but since he left voluntarily I would have thought that he would finish the stories more properly. I’d hate for everything to be this rushed. I mean, not only do we get a tragically aborted “Stu the Human” arc, but he rushes through a story in which Jen had to legally defend the regular Marvel Universe against cosmic editors who wanted to replace it with the Ultimate Universe, which would have been brilliant. Well, it still was pretty brilliant, but I would have liked it to get more than a page. Oh well.
By the way, there could totally be a “Stu the Human” miniseries. Obsessive knowledge of the Marvel Universe confers incredible power for someone who actually lives in the Marvel Universe, as this issue demonstrates. Of course, Slott would have to write it, and he’s all busy now.
Aw, and here when I saw Spider-Man kicking two dudes in the face while talking about getting dinner with MJ in Spider-Man/Red Sonja, I thought for sure that might make the kick of the week…
Er, correct me if I’m wrong but I thought the Wizard’s initial motivation against the FF was that he was a brilliant guy who was constantly being outshone by Reed Richards? That he wanted to destroy the FF out of jealousy…
The Trapster has trapped plenty of people, buster!
Of course, they all got away later, but still.