C’mon, c’mon, let’s get on with it!
All right, look: It’s Thursday night and that means it’s time for another round of the Internet’s Most Impatient Comics Reviews, but every minute I’m sitting here writing them is a minute that I’m not playing Batman: Arkham Asylum, which is a video game that is built almost entirely around Batman kicking people in the head in slow motion.
It’s a wonder I’ve bothered to write this much at all.
Suffice to say, t’were well t’were done quickly, so here’s what I bought this week…
…and here’s what I’ll tell you I thought about them while looking longingly at the 360!
Batman and Robin #3: I’m not going to lie to you, folks: With as much good stuff as came out this week, I’ve had a hard time picking out which comic I liked best, which is not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. The more I thought about it, though, the more I had to go with this one, and not just because it features the rarely seen double-bat-kick to the face, as pictured above. Admittedly, you could argue that I might just be in a Batman kind of mood this week, but if there’s one thing you should’ve learned over the past four years, it’s that I’m in a Batman kind of mood every week, and it’s comics like this that put me there in the first place.
With this issue, Grant Morrison wraps up the first arc with Frank Quitely, and it is an incredible book from top to bottom. I’ve mentioned before how much I’ve been enjoying the way the title characters’ roles have been set up, with Dick as a (slightly) more lighthearted Batman and Damian as the unrepentant bastard spawn of Bruce Wayne’s scowling ruthlessness, and Morrison’s done wonders with that in this one. Damian’s casual escape from being tied up and subsequent sustained and brutal beating of his captors–wherein he backhands one of Pyg’s dollies with the blunt end of a power drill–is exactly the sort of thing his old man would’ve done, but when it’s intercut with Dick doing something as flashy as interrogating a suspect while ramping an ATV into a jump, it makes a nice contrast. Both things are pretty awesome in their own right, but together they really reaffirm the roles nicely. And that’s not even the best thing about this issue.
No, that goes to the scene with Le Bossu, about which I was freaking out. I’m just gonna lay this out: If you don’t think Batman: R.I.P. is awesome, then you’re wrong, and getting the callback to one of my favorite sequences in the past decade at the end of this issue was, for me anyway, pure comics joy. It’s great stuff, and while I’m a little nervous about what it’ll be like when Philip Tan steps in for Quitely on the next arc, there’s not a thing wrong with these first three.
Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter #3: With Previews coming out this week, one of the biggest pieces of news is that Kieron Gillen wil. be taking over Thor, and I’m pretty excited about it.
We’ve known Gillen was a fantastic writer since Phonogram came out, but with Godhunter (and the “Green of Eden” one-shot that preceded it), he’s proven that he’s equally adept at writing thundering cosmic action, which I’ve got to admit came as a pretty pleasant surprise. In four issues with everyone’s favorite Space-Horse, he’s shown that he understands what makes Walt Simonson’s Thor–which might be my all-time favorite run on comics–so enjoyable without feeling the need to mimic its beats to make a good story. In other words, he gets it, and if we’ve got more of the fun he’s delievered with Beta Ray Bill to look forward to, I’m excited about Thor for the first time since Matt Fraction wrote down the words “blood colosusus.”
Fantastic Four #570: In pretty much any other week, this one would’ve easily been the best of the week, but my pretty-much-arbitrary rating system can be cruel. Suffice to say that this one is still pretty awesome.
This one marks the first issue for the new team of Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham, although it picks up where Hickman left off in the five-part Dark Reign: Fantastic Four. If you’re thinking of jumping on and you haven’t read that one, don’t worry: It’s not strictly necessary, but considering that it might end up being one of the best mini-series of the year purely based on its introduction of the alternate universe Chamberlain Grimm and his battle cry, “’tis the clobbering hour,” you should probably just go ahead and read it anyway.
I’ve been swept up in Hickmania ever since he made his debut with The Nightly News, and one of the most appealing things for me as a fan of his is seeing how he brings something new to every project he works on, whether it’s the distinctive visual style of his own stuff or the completely different take on badass espionage action in Secret Warriors. With FF though, it’s the first time I’ve really seen him work with established characters, and he’s able to combine that forward-thinking quality and still come away with, as Mark Waid, the guy who wrote maybe the best run on the title in the past two decades, put it, characters that I recognize for the first time in two years.
On the art side, I’ve got to admit that I’ve never been a huge fan of Dale Eaglesham, and when the first images came out when the book was solicited, I thought Reed especially looked pretty off. In practice, though, it works a lot better than I thought it would; Reed’s certainly built thicker than he’s usually played, but I can see where Eaglesham’s going with it, trying to give him a more Doc Savage-esque action scientist look, and while you could argue that Reed doesn’t need to look physically intimidating when he’s got the Thing standing right next to him, the effect isn’t bad at all. The one thing that does strike me, though, is that his Reed’s got a little stubble, and while I assume that’s there to reflect how Reed’s always busy with one thing or another, this is the guy who took time out for a shave when Galactus showed up to eat the planet. Dude doesn’t let a little thing like the end of the world keep him from looking crisp.
Other than that, the art’s great, except for a few panels where the background’s been replaced with what appear to be photographs run through a couple of PhotoShop filters. I’m not sure if that’s Eaglesham’s doing or a colorist filling space, but it jumped out at me as a reader, especially considering the detail Eaglesham puts into the backgrounds of other scenes, like the laboratory or the home of the Reedocracy. It’s the sort of thing that draws your attention once you notice it, and for me at least, it has the effect of pulling me right out of the story.
Overall, though, it’s highly enjoyable stuff. I’d never think to list FF as one of my favorite titles, but when there’s a good team behind it, it’s easily one of the best books on the stands, and I cant’ wait to see where this one goes.
Invincible Presents Atom Eve: Collected Edition: Every now and then, I’ll joke about how a creator put a kick to the face in a story just for me, but this is pretty much the only story where I know that’s actually true.
In any case, I’m not so much reviewing this one as putting it here to let everyone know they’ve got a second chance to catch Atom Eve’s origin by Benito Cereno and Nate Bellegarde, the Friends of the ISB who brought you Hector Plasm. It’s good stuff, and with the country gripped by Atom Eve Fever after the events of the last few issues of Invincible–who would’ve thought that comics fans would become so attached to a pretty girl character who’s in love with the main character, who also happens to read comics?–it’s a nice chance to jump on before Benito and Nate return for Atom Eve and Rex Splode later this year. It’s good stuff.
And speaking of good stuff from Benito, he’s going to be the writer of an all-new ongoing Tick series alongside Les McClaine (of Middleman fame) that kicks off with a Christmas special, and there’s nothing about that that doesn’t sound awesome. Believe it.
Ghost Rider: Trials and Tribulations: I’ve gone on and on about Jason Aaron’s run on Ghost Rider since I started reading it, but the facts of the matter are these: This is a paperback collection of stories that feature the return of a villain from US1 drawn by The Walking Dead‘s Tony Moore, the hilariously Sailor Moon-esque Skinbender, and–most importantly–GHOST RIDER SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT. If you like things that are awesome, you’re going to want this.
And that’s the week! As always, any questions or concerns can be left in the comments section below, so if you’re wondering if enough people are reading Marvel Adventures Spider-Man (no), whether Usagi Yojimbo is still awsome (yes) or if I think what happens in the second Jimmy Olsen special is going to stick (no, but I’m stoked to see Breach come back), feel free to ask. Otherwise… well, you know where I’ll be.