Happy first new comic day of 2012! If you’ve been mulling over an easy to keep new year’s resolution, here’s a no brainer, READ COMICS! Simple right? For the past few months I have found myself back in the habit and stretching out of my comfort zone, each week grabbing a handful of books that I wouldn’t normally pick up, and it’s been fun, expanding your horizons and trying something different is really great for you and helps you grow as a person.
Now if we could just get the big two comic companies to do the same.
Yes, I have a bitch to pick here and it is about the brewing mega-events both of the big guys have planned. Now, I am not going to go after Marvel for their latest superhero vs superhero slugfest, A vs X (we all know Civil War was amazing, please don’t cheapen it by ripping it off, again.) I will say this though, they have announced that there will be midnight launch parties for the first issue of Avengers Vs X-Men at participating comic book stores. Yep, you’ll be able to pick it up a whole 14 hours earlier! Oh sure, I sound cynical, but I’ll be in line too.
Now over DC Comics they have been teasing this strange purple hoodie lady since the end of Flashpoint/start of the New 52. Yes, she made a background Where’s Waldo-esque cameo in each of the new number ones and yes we are all pretty clear she has something to do with the new continuity, but how? Who? When? Well, over at DC’s official blog, The Source, they at least gave us the ‘who’ – apparently her name is Pandora. Really guys? That’s the best you can do? Any interest I had fizzled with such a stock throwaway name. According to DC Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras we’ll “soon see the next step in this character’s evolution in the pages of ‘Justice League,’ and in the months to come you will see more events ripple across titles as we continue to weave the DC Universe together and tell even more amazing stories.” It feels like another shot at the DCnU just being the dreaded dark 90’s all over again to me. Buckle in, because I am pretty sure she ties into the all new, all different, yet completely the same as it always was multiverse for DC Comics. Oh sure the new continuity will remain, Supes still won’t have his undies, but my call is the next big event will be all about the new playing field of multiple earths, that while different, amount to the same as it’s been.
Now, let’s see whats on the shelves today. Honestly, a lot of really good books. Yes, there are new issues of Swamp Thing and Animal Man, two books you really should be reading. Wolverine And The X-Men: Alpha & Omega kicks off and looks like fun read. The second issue of the previously reviewed Defenders is out and the cover alone makes it a must, purely for the look on Doctor Strange’s face. The Boys, The Goon, Irredeemable, and Uncanny X-Force also look really good this week. Oh, and don’t forget, The Annotated Sandman is finally on the shelves, $50 is a small price to pay for Neil Gaiman‘s incredible work on this Vertigo series.
That’s enough staring at the shelves, let’s get into some books. Stop me if you’ve heard this one, baby gets rocketed from his dying planet, lands on earth to be raised… yes, I know you are screaming stop, but I don’t care, for the gazillionth time Superman’s origin is being told, let’s see how Grant Morrison feeds us the same old story. I’ve also grabbed yet another horror/vampire looking book, but this one comes from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, so I am willing to give it a chance. Lastly, my habit of revisiting Marvel characters I haven’t read in years continues, now it’s Frank Castles turn.
Hit the jump for the fast and dirty rapid fire reviews.
ACTION COMICS #5 – DC Comics – Written by GRANT MORRISON, Backup story written by SHOLLY FISCH, Art by ANDY KUBERT and JESSE DELPERDANG, Backup story art by CHRISCROSS, Cover by ANDY KUBERT and JOE PRADO
I’m starting this one just to get it out of the way really. Yes, this is another retelling of how Kal-El came to Earth. I have been enjoying Grant Morrison’s run on the rebooted titled and his take on Superman. My main question coming into this issues was why tell this story? We all know it, does it need to be told again? Would there be some insane twist? Luckily Grant Morrison is smart enough to know that you can tweak and twinge the classics, you can’t flip it and change it without pissing off the last 75 years worth of comic book readers.
This is the same story we’ve had all these years, but told nicely. My cynicism had me coming in cold on this, but I warmed up fast over the first few pages. Sure there are some small changes, but it still felt familar without feeling old. It’s another step in Morrision’s blending of the silver, golden and modern ages in a new way. I also like how parts of the DC Animated universe found a way in, with Braniac being a Kryptonian computer.
We have a newer, larger, meaner Krypto (while it looks like he sacrificed himself, I am betting we haven’t seen the last of the mutt of steel.) It all wraps up with a shocker ending that is pure Morrison, “The Anti-Superman Army,” a group of time-travelling foes seemingly powered by the different colors of Kryptonite are introduced, chased through time by the Legion of Superheroes.
Picking up art duties on this issue, Andy Kubert does a fine job, do I really have to say that? He’s a Kubert, damn it.
VERDICT: Two years ago, if you asked me who did the best Superman, I would have answered John Bryne in a second. Now? I’d probably still say Byrne, but Morrison is really starting to become a viable answer.
Back in the late 80’s early 90’s I was a huge fan of the Punisher, everybody loved the tragic psychopath. Dirty, grimy, violent stories that always moved with action at a breakneck speed. Then, Marvel really started to mess around with character. Killed him, replaced him, made him an avenging angel, it’s like they didn’t know what do do with poor old Frank Castle anymore.
Luckily, Greg Rucka does. Yes, we have the fast pace. Yes we have the action, The Punisher even dusts it up with Daredevil for a bit. It gave me everything I loved and remembered about the character in a total new way, since he really only cameos. The main plot is about two cops, talking, in a car, for most of the issue and it is done so well. Rucka weaves you into a very sophisticated story quickly and keeps you there.
Michael Lark‘s art compliments the story well, he has a crunchy realism that sets the mood perfectly. It’s really amazing that the two of them presented a story that on paper sounds terrible, ‘two cops talk in a couple of places and one has a flashback involving titular character’, and pull it off wonderfully. If the issues before and after this are half as good, this is a damn fine book.
VERDICT: One of the better comics of its kind that I have read in a long time. Is it a new take on the Punisher? Sure, yes he still kills people and is bent on revenge, but it’s told in a more thriller rather than action movie style. Check it out.
FATALE #1 – IMAGE COMICS – Story by Ed Brubaker, Art by Sean Phillips
I want to quickly point out that I erroneously identified this above as ‘another vampirey looking book’ – As far as I can tell no vampires are in it. Well, I don’t think she is one at least.
Each week, I find myself getting more and more pleased with the new crop of horror styled comic books that are coming out. Fatale #1 pushed that higher. Ed Brubaker blends and bends the horror and film noir genres together here in such a great way. I find myself not wanting to spoil anything, just so you can enjoy it all on your own. We have a flood of characters given to us, tonnes of plot lines that weave between two eras to get wrapped up in, and amazing art on Sean Phillips part. When I picked it up, I knew there was a lot of buzz and hype behind it. This issue lives up to it.
Ok, I have to spoil a few things. The story starts in 2011, then thrusts you back to 1956, An ageless mysterious young woman named Josephine meets a reporter that wants to blow the lid off a police scandal. Turns out there more going on, much much more. This is the start of what is clearly a tight and deep story that I am already itching to get deeper into.
VERDICT: Comic nerds have long been telling me how great Brubaker and Phillips are as a team, I am a comic nerd too, and now I know what they mean. This will be the best book you read all week.