It’s Thursday night, my computer is finally back in my loving hands, and I’ve got a stack of comics to chat about! That’s right, it’s the triumphant return of…
…the Pure Mood Pull List! Here’s what I picked up at the shop this week…
…and here’s my catastrophic and apocryphal thoughts on them! As always, if you’re looking for the very best in Marvel reviews, head on over to http://www.marveldisassembled.com. I’m over there talking about THANOS RISING #2, ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN #26, and of course, my little pet of a book X-MEN LEGACY #10. So check it out! Oh, and yes, I often forget to say this, but HUGE SPOILERS for all titles below.
AGE OF ULTRON #7 written by Brian Michael Bendis, penciled by Brandon Peterson and Carlos Pacheco, inks by Brandon Peterson and Roger Martinez, colour art by Paul Mounts and Jose Villarrubia, lettered by Cory Petit
It’s pretty amazing how strange this book has become since I talked about it three weeks ago. In that rather short time, Wolverine has gone back in time and killed Hank Pym, altering history so that…well, so that this happens. Like a lot of geeks, I have a huge soft spot for revisionist history time-travel stories, and getting one in the Marvel Universe has been a lot of fun – and it’s especially refreshing to see Bendis stretching such different muscles. Also, shifting the focus of the book to centre around Invisible Woman was an expert move. Seeing the end of the world from Susan’s perspective has been fascinating – and honestly, the way that bounces off Wolverine, her partner through time, is just as incredible.
You think it’d be old hat by now to see a relatively straight laced character argue with Logan about morality, but Bendis keeps the interactions between the two very fresh. Susan has seen every one of her FF teammates killed in front of her at the hands of Ultron, and her children are stranded in space by themselves. Wolverine preys on these tragedies to try and get her to see things his way – he goads Susan into admiting she would kill someone threatening the lives of her children, but not someone who will create a device that ends the Earth. Even the two travelling back to their radically affected timeline is fascinating – Susan immediately panics seeing the massive changes they’ve brought to Earth, while Logan desperately and transparently tries to keep his cool.
Anyway, most of this issue is about giving clues as to how killing Pym changed the MU – from the Kree/Skull War to Secret Invasion to The Defenders. The issue ends with a revelation hinted at in the previous issue, and it continues my favourite tradition of Marvel’s summer events – Iron Man being an awful person. I have to be honest, I’m really enjoying AGE OF ULTRON. I hate to constantly rehash the same point, but most of the negative reaction to this series seems to be that it doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel, but it never promised it would, and my own inclinations make me believe that not every story can be that way. If everything is a reinvention, then nothing is a reinvention. AGE OF ULTRON is an exciting Marvel comic about time-travelling superheroes, and if you’re into that as much as I am, it’s a good comic!
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN is such a weird comic. It really is. This issue finds Otto Octavius making a final attempt to rid himself of Peter Parker forever, entering his own psyche to have a final battle of will between the two arch nemesis. Peter relies valiantly on the only weapon he’s ever had – himself. His unwavering belief in himself, in that he’s doing the right thing by using his great power responsibly and that Otto isn’t is all he has. Unfortunately, Otto has a lot more. Otto has, once again, shown himself far more prepared for this moment, and he uses the other thing Peter carries around with him constantly against him – his pain.
Doctor Octopus literally uses the memory of every one of Peter’s failures to defeat him in a battle between their two consciousnesses. The most unforgettable moment in the issue comes when things are looking bleakest for Peter, but despite the pain it’s caused, he finds strength in what he’s gained at being Spider-man, and strips away his skin to reveal his costume underneath. Freakishly, Otto does the same thing. Dan Slott confidently characterizes Otto as believing, in the bottom of his heart, to be Spider-man. He believes with so much conviction that he is doing a better job at being Spider-man than Peter that he is able to defeat him, and that lingering aspect of Peter’s ‘soul’ becomes wiped out forever.
Ryan Stegman is back for this issue, and he continues to do a beautiful job. His McFarlanesque exaggerated cartooning is such a great look for Slott’s writing, and I particularly love how unafraid he is to make Doc Ock look as dorky and unappealing as possible. I never liked it when Marvel seemed so desperate to make Ock look ‘cool’ after SPIDER-MAN 2, putting him in that black trench coat and gelled back hair. I like that, in his own mind, Otto sees himself as the pudgy bowl-cutted figure we all know and love.
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN continues to be a very interesting and well done comic, and one I really do enjoy. That being said, it’s CRAZY. I mean, DOCTOR OCTOPUS IS SPIDER-MAN. That HAPPENED! In an in-continuity Marvel comic! And it lasted for issues and issues! This isn’t some wacky weird forgotten Julie Schwartz era eight pager. Doc Ock is Spidey. I really can’t get over how weird that is. But I love it!
You may recall how much I loved the last issue of HAWKEYE, but unfortunately, this one’s a bit of a snooze. It takes the well worn crime genre cliche of the confident, hard-worn woman falling in love with a secret serial killer, and then…doesn’t really run off with it. I know I mentioned earlier not everything having to reinvent the wheel, and I do stand by that, but I still think story telling is about invention, even if I don’t think it always has to be about reinvention.
I know that’s the kind of vague distinction you’ve come to expect here at The Pure Mood, but bare with me for a moment – AoU may follow the tried and true sci-fi formula of going back in time to kill Hitler, but so did I KILLED ADOLF HITLER, and that’s probably the greatest comic book of all time. A plot is a plot is a plot is a plot, and where you run off with it is more important than where you started. Bendis used that plot to say some fascinating things about Susan Storm and even, of all characters, Wolverine. Jason used that plot to tell an unforgettable story about longing and self-pity. However, HAWKEYE #10 lacks that sort of specificity, for me. As in, it doesn’t feel specifically a story for Kate.
Something I find really interesting about stand-up comedy is how comedians often say that, in their early work, they tried very hard to write material that was general enough for everyone to relate to and/or understand, but they didn’t really break out in their career until they started telling stories more personal and focused on themselves. That’s kind of what I’m trying to say here – AoU becomes more universal by focusing on Susan, whereas Kate feels so underdeveloped in this issue that I got nothing out of her story.
Of course, Francavilla is drawing this comic, so you can just ignore all of my whining about the story and just enjoy that. And enjoy it you will! This comic looks great. The rather familiar new villain Fraction and Francavilla introduce may not leave a lasting mark on you, but the images of his murders are wonderfully executed, and visually striking in Francavilla’s infamous colour palette of oranges and yellows. Anyway, you already know you hate me for not loving HAWKEYE, or you also were never invited to the dance and resent when comics get dedicated followings.
I wasn’t even aware this was coming out, but this was a delightful little surprise. I always loved this era of Tony Stark’s life, and it was a lot of fun to briefly return to. Honestly, this issue was a complete excercise in nostalgia for me – it did feel like going back and visiting an old friend, and seeing just how far they’ve come along, and how much they’ve changed. That isn’t to say it isn’t artistically viable in any way – I still think of Layton as my definitive IRON MAN artist – but it certainly makes no attempts to be anything other than what it is, a fun throw back to Bronze Age IRON MAN.
Michelline still has a wonderful grasp on the character, and he even seems passionate about reminding readers with the strength of character we’re dealing with here. I mean, I don’t mean to make any kind of inference or put words in anybody’s mouth, but I always imagine it’s hard to hear a character you helped define ended up putting people who didn’t agree with him into a camp. IRON MAN #258.1 focuses on Tony’s heroism more than his failings, and it was kind of fun to remember that Stark was once more traiditonally heroic. I mean, he’s still making time with beautiful women and ignoring Rhodes, but the guy was never perfect.
Beyond that, Iron Man fights a bunch of miniature UFO’s, and that’s always fun. As I said, that’s what this comic is – an unessential, fun superhero throwback. That being said, you’d have to be a heartless person to not delight at seeing an old-school SFX like PHWABAOOOM in a comic published in 2013.
THE PURE MOOD PICK OF THE WEEK
written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, pencils by Dan Parent, inks by Rich Koslowski, letters by Jack Morelli, colours by Digikore Studios
Now that we’re finally past all of the awkward expository elements of the story, the Archie/GLEE crossover can finally kick into high gear, and it really goes full speed into hysterical bliss. Honestly, the opening of this comic is dedicated to seeing Puck delight in his realization that Riverdale is filled with the nicest people on Earth, and take it upon himself to manipulate all of them. His first date with Betty is little more than him seeing how much stuff she’ll buy him and how far he can go with her.
In fact, the GLEE cast aren’t just taking advantage of the citizens of Riverdale – they’re influencing them, too. Quinn takes it upon herself to take Betty under her wing, and teach her the ways of a 21st century woman. Seeing Betty act with malice and jealousy is not only shocking, but funny. Meanwhile, Veronica’s social status has disappeared in the GLEE universe, and it takes the power of ABBA to put her back on top. It’s hard to pull of musical numbers in a comic book, but Aguirre-Sacasa and Parent do a pretty great job.
As the CRISIS ON MULTIPLE EARTHS moment we were all waiting for finally happens, it looks like the only chance to save the two universes is through, you guessed it, singing. Aguirre-Sacasa has such a blast poking fun at the workings of Glee, at having the Archie characters moan and groan about having to sing another song, and he does an equally fun ribbing at the goody-two shoes nature of the Archie world. ARCHIE MEETS GLEE has been pretty hit or miss, but his issue is incredibly funny and very entertaining.
SESAME STREET #1 written by Jason Burns, Jay Fosgitt, Paul Morrissey & Patrick Storck, art by Scott Ball, Amy Mebberson, Jay Fasgitt, Scott Underwood, James Silvani, Ryan Davis & Misseri Studios, colour art by Dustin Evans, letters by Deron Bennet & Jay Fosgitt
I’m huge SESAME STREET fan, and I was pretty excited for Ape’s new comic series. What we’re presented with is an anthology series featuring short comics and one-page gags about the iconic characters, complete with the highly moral lessons and fun wordplay we’d expect from the television series. Highlights include Scott Underwood’s brilliant cartooning in a very funny Oscar the Grouch story, and a clay-model Bert and Ernie traveling through time and space. As much as I would love to see a SESAME STREET comic with a larger, over-arching story, this was still an enjoyable comic, with a ton of great talent on board!
Abe, in his attempt to run from his own mysterious past, has found himself bunking at a church, and Allie uses this a springboard to explore some very interesting aspects of religion that, surprisingly, hasn’t been explored that often in the Mignolaverse. The priest that Abe finds himself staying with believes Abe to be some sort of angelic saviour. “There is no “supernatural.” The word itself is profane — there is nothing ABOVE nature, nothing BEYOND nature — EVERYTHING is part of God’s creation.” Rather than being against the horrific creatures invading Earth, this man believes those who’ve come in contact with them should feel blessed. “READ the descriptions of angels–! Would you find them any less strange than the creatures that come through here? We would all be just as scared witless!”
It’s a really interesting idea. We’re so used to the idea in fiction (and, of course, reality) of religious zealots rallying against those different than them for being disgraces against God. The idea that someone could take acceptance too far, to turn acceptance into a form of lying to yourself…that was a very interesting idea to me. Two issues in, and ABE SAPIEN is already one of the most thought provoking and quietly meditative books out there, which is fitting considering the title character. Abe is on a very complicated quest of self-discovery, and I think it’s great that he seems almost disaffected from the adventures he finds himself in. In a climatic battle in the church, Abe seems positively bored – “Happy to leave — but you’re acting kind of –” he says with a blank expression.
Fiumara’s art work is gorgeous and moody, Allie’s plot is challenging and original, his characterization very true and fascinating. ABE SAPIEN is, so far, everything I hoped it would be!
It’s also hard to sell a reader on yet another ‘superheroes appearing in the real world’ story, but Mike Carey proves there’s still plenty to mine from it. SUICIDE RISK is about just such a world, but in this one, heroes don’t stay heroes for very long. They all give in to villainy sooner rather than later, on the off chance that they didn’t just start out that way.
Our hero, beat cop Leo Winters, sees many of his closest friends and co-workers die in a supervillain tragedy, and it motivates him to find another way to deal with the disturbingly bizarre methods of crime the police force find themselves facing. He comes to the conclusion that the only thing to do is fight fire with fire, and he arranges a meet up with illegal dealers who supply drugs that give the user super powers.
The first issue reads very much like an introduction, but it’s a rather gripping one. Casagrande’s artwork is wonderful, and Elder’s colours hit the perfect mix of bright superhero theatrics and gritty crime drama. Though it may wind up reading better in a collected edition, SUICIDE RISK looks to be a great read.
Well, that’s it for this week! If you’d like to discuss Hulk with Thor’s hammer, Death’s Head and robot-racist Iron Man in a buddy-cop road trip in space to assassinate an android, JMS and Templesmith’s new run on HELLBLAZER I mean new series TEN GRAND, or any other titles you enjoyed and think I should be reading, leave a comment below!