Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Week of April 20 in Review

This week has the distinction of being one of the worse weeks in comics in my recent memory, possibly the worse week since in trying to come up with a review column. Not that the books themselves were horrible but the material presented was all so bland and boring or a middle chapter syndrome thing as to not generated any real interest.

Only three books were comment worthy. First up is Uncanny X-Force #8 which was another brilliant issue. Rick Remender has truly found his niche with taking this diverse group and not giving a crap about other continuity for these characters and just proceeding to write a great series. He uses Wolverine in Wolverine’s more or less base character mode, the anti-hero but someone with a depth of experience and some strong leadership skills. As Deadpool is a cipher to be used in any manner, Rick uses him as the typical crazy assassin, but has given him some depth of character that I have not seen anywhere else. Even crazy can be a person and Rick has made Deadpool into a real character and not just a caricature. In hindsight Rick was the perfect person to continue the Grant Morrison creation of Fantomex. I think Fear Agent was a great learning ground where you have a character that seems cavalier, but has a ton of history that plays into what shaped the character. Fantomex fits that mold. Finally Archangel and Psylocke are two characters that have been underutilized and Rick has made their relationship and what is happening to Archangel one of the more interesting sub plots in comics. At the same time all of this is going on Rick has told three stories in the span of eight issues which keeps the pace of this book at a very satisfying clip as opposed to the doldrums so many other series fall into. The schedule is kept up by using rotating artists that have all delivered their own work but built off the opening feeling given to us by Jerome Opena. This has become my favorite Marvel series and certainly one of the best super hero books being published.

Next up is Spirit #13. I hardly ever mention this book but David Hine and artist Moriat have given us a series that has developed the Spirit into something that is more appealing to modern taste yet I believe maintains the underlying quality of the Spirit. Moriat’s artwork has a wonderful quality to it that keeps the Spirit’s cast of characters bordering on less realistic side, yet is rich and complex in the layouts and page design. I could look as his work all day. Another great quality of Moriat’s work is the women are all curves and not overly endowed or overly sexualized, yet are beautiful. Hine has crafted some great stories and this arc gave us the oddest assassin in comic, a kindly old Professor type who makes killer dolls.

The last book I want to comment on is Invincible #79. Atom Eve finally makes a big reveal and tells Mark she aborted the baby. The entire issue was a set up so we could get that ending. On one hand I thought this was pretty daring thing to do, as it is an event that happens in the real world often but seldom addressed or presented in super hero comics. Of course it is an easy cop out as having children can always be the death knell of a comic since writers apparently think that you can’t be a super hero and have a family. Of course given how most writers ignore the secret identities of characters anymore I guess that proves the point that writers can’t handle giving their characters private lives anymore. At a minimum it is a lost art at the moment. Once I put this comic down my reaction started to change. First off Atom Eve is so weak that she decided she can’t raise a child on her own? Where is the heroic quality in that? Wouldn’t she want to make sure she still had part of Mark around in case he didn’t make it back? On top of that she is so pathetic that she wallows in her misery and packs on the pounds? Would any male hero be treated with such disdain and be shown so weak? I wonder. Finally the cover shows a slim and hot Atom Eve, while the interior gives us the Kristie Alley Atom Eve. I think I find the whole thing insulting to the character of Atom Eve. It makes her pretty damn weak and causes me to think Kirkman went for the shock value qualities instead of letting his characters tell their own story. By that I believe that Atom Eve became fat and had an abortion so we could be shocked, but the way the character had been established neither of those would have occurred. The best written books seem to let the characters tell the story as opposed to the writing forcing something artificial or a character so he can generate a shock.

No for why this week was such a bummer, first off I hardly got any independents, which hurts the overall quality of what came out and my Marvel list only had Hulk and Thunderbolts on it besides Uncanny X-Force. Neither book was bad, both were basic entertainment. It really comes down to DC being a bitter disappointment and since that was the bulk of my list it brought the week down. Batman and Gotham City Sirens were both interrupted by the Azrael story since that comic was canceled. I don’t think bringing in that story line did either book a favor. DMZ, Fables and Hellblazer were all decent, but I expect more out of Vertigo. Green Lantern and GL Corps took two issues to move the plot ahead one point. Crap one comic took the entire book to get the four Earth GLs to take a different ring. JLA just continues to lack direction and has a hodgepodge of heroes that should be some “C” level group, except for Batman. LOSH I’m still trying to figure out what characters are doing what and we are spending issues setting up storylines. Paul Levitz is still finding his feet in writing this book and needs Giffen. Teen Titans is boring and Ms. Scott’s artwork that was great in Secret Six feels off for Teen Titans. Supergirl is actually decent, but any hope for the series is dimmed by a rotating creative team which never gives this book a chance to get a rhythm. Finally Zatanna was a fill in and felt like a fill in, a fluffy piece of work that wasn’t worth the price on entry.

That wraps up this week’s review.

PS – I passed on Super Dinosaur because a friend of mine told it read very young. While I can applaud efforts like that in trying to generate interest with younger readers, it is not what I want to read.


  1. As great a job as Remender's doing on X-Force, I think the real kudos this time around belong to Billy Tan. Holy crap, he looked incredible. I mean, his stuff looks thoroughly mediocre on stuff like Shadowland. Is he trying a new style to align to the book's aesthetic or is the colorist's influence just that strong?

    At any rate, more of that please.

  2. Great commentary on Invincible, Jim. Did they explain why she became fat? (I don't read the title) If part of her misery was from the guilt/regret and emotional scars from killing her baby, that would've been realistic.

  3. Kirkman did shock value storytelling in The Walking Dead AND Invincible last month. I was not amused.

  4. Greg - Maybe this is Tan with a solid color artist and no inker if memory serves.

    Matt - Not yet, but I will be interested to see what they say about her getting fat.

  5. I got the impression the fatness was some combination of depression eating/pregnancy weight.

    Re: the pregnancy, I think its an interesting story choice precisely because we don't see characters get abortions that often. What bothered me about it was how he handled it. I could see Atom Eve having an abortion, I could see her being upset about it, but I couldn't see her being such a blubbering mess. Kirkman has never been great with subtlety and this is a storyline that cries out for it.

    Friday Night Lights did a storyline on abortion during its fourth season and no matter what your views on it, I think its the only time I've seen the issue addressed that wasn't trite or maudlin.

  6. Right now Kirkman is not impressing, but I have hope that it will get better.

  7. I've been down on Invincible for a while, but Super Dinosaur was amaaaaazing. All is forgiven.