It’s Thursday night and we’ve got some quick drive-by comic book thoughts for you. That’s right it’s the Pure Mood Pull List!
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 #3, DAREDEVIL DARK NIGHTS #1 and CABLE AND X-FORCE #9. So check it out! As always, HUGE SPOILERS for all titles below.
A lot of ACTION COMICS #21 is merely serviceable – Superman taking down Lex Luthor in a big purple green robot sounds a little bit like something we’ve seen a million times before, but I have to admit, Daniel does a pretty solid job with it. Who knows how much of Diggle’s vision is present in this issue, but regardless of behind-the-scenes problems, Daniel does give us a pretty exciting and explosive issue, and there’s some real fun to be had with the rowdier New 52 Superman, almost toying with Luthor in a subterranean battle beneath the city. I was never that big a fan of Daniel’s work on Batman, but I actually really loved his artwork for this issue. He nails that larger than life spectacle that makes reading Superman comics so fun, and he certainly carries the torch of Morrison’s proclamation of putting the ‘action’ in ACTION COMICS. Frank Hannah and Phillip Tan’s backup may be the real highlight of the issue, a sort of pulp sci-fi/spy story set on Krypton, starring intergalactic officer Lara Lor-Van. It reminded me a lot of some of the more obscure STAR WARS books put out by Dark Horse – how that property and universe is so well defined that you can mine a ton of unique stories from it. I hope to see more of Lara Lor-Van’s exhilirating adventures, and I hope ACTION COMICS’ lead feature can secure it’s footing after so many editorial problems.
This is a fantastic issue of one of my favourite superhero books on the stands – continuing where the previous volume, GUARDING THE GLOBE left off, INVINCIBLE UNIVERSE (which really is a much better title) focuses on the countless number of Kirkman superhero creations, this issue dedicated to Chupacabra. A recovering alcoholic, he’s haunted by the day his addiction led to his team mate Cast Iron’s death. As part of his recovery program, he’s traveled to Siberia to apologize to the parents of the deceased. Unfortunately, things are more complicated than he imagined – Cast Iron was raised by his uncle, a launderer with mob ties who disowned his nephew’s heroic career. Phil Hester gives us a morally complicated and action packed story, and the team of Nauck and Rauch is a dream team for superhero fans – the graceful quality of Chupacabra’s althetics to the horrific brutality of Cast Iron’s relatives, there’s plenty of unforgettable imagery in the issue. INVINCIBLE UNIVERSE is a great comic book, and I really appreciate the lack of a traditional narrative – I enjoy how the narrative is weaved together in small pieces, while each specific issue focuses on one idea or character. It’s two of the best in the business telling great stories with amazing characters, and you should be reading it!
I really enjoyed the first six issues of BEDLAM, and I was curious to see what the next arc would entail. Things are moving along rather slowly, but this issue enticed me to see what comes next. Spencer seems to take some sick delight in a truly unforgettable opening scene of Madder Red’s early days, with the rest of the issue building tension, cutting from different scenes of urban life that we’re right to feel will result in something much more sinister. With increased funding to her program, Detective Avecedo is able to hire Filmore’s unique services in a legitimate way, even if his struggle to overcome the Madder Red persona is far from over. Ryan Browne takes over on art, though very much working in the spirit of Rossmo’s style. That being said, Browne does a great job, and brings his own idiosyncrasies to the series. BEDLAM is a great series, and even if this issue feels a little light and perhaps too evocative, it’s still a series worth reading.
This comic could have easily been satisfied with being amazing or thrilling or any of the things it already is, but a discussion on bringing life into the world between Hyperion and Thor at the end of the story elevate this to masterpiece. One of the few issues of this volume of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to continue directly from the last one, the High Evolutionary has kidnapped the rapidly aging and mysterious children from Mars. Most of the issue is dedicated to our group of heroes reclaiming these young ones, in Deodato and Martin’s beautiful and luscious fight scene in the heart of Wungadore. However, as mentioned previously, it’s the discussion between two Gods about the biological pursuit of man that will leave you stunned. Thor may see child rearing as a very human pursuit, the need to spread our seed and keep the survival of our species being an ingrained imperative, but Hyperion sees something much more noble in it. If a hero fights only for ideas, he fights only for the abstract, but love is tangible, and the love of these children have given Hyperion something worth fighting for. It’s a pretty fascinating exchange, and it’s that level of depth that have made this volume the greatest AVENGERS run of all time.
I feel all sorts of weird about THE FEARLESS DEFENDERS. On paper, it’s everything I’ve ever dreamed about from a comic, but I’ve yet to find myself very engrossed in these first five issues. The newest chapter is, without a doubt, an exciting one – with every other female super hero in the Marvel Universe appearing to take down Caroline Le Fay’s army, there’s certainly a lot of visual spectacle to be had, and Will Sliney does a pretty great job presenting it. I also think Bunn’s script is very strong – his characterization of Misty Knight is an absolute joy, Valkyrie’s character arc continues to fascinate me, and he ends the issue with a line of dialogue from Jen that had me smile with delight. That all being said, the series feels a little lifeless – I wish it had some of the reckless abandon of Fraction’s run on THE DEFENDERS, or even the sardonic farce of Gerber’s. THE FEARLESS DEFENDERS just kind of…limps along, and even though it’s doing everything perfectly well, I thought it would be the kind of series I’d be pushing under everybody’s noses. I know it’s hardly Bunn or Sliney’s job to meet whatever ridiculous expectation I had set up for the series (well, to be honest, it sort of is) but I have to admit, I’m dissapointed. I think THE FEARLESS DEFENDERS is solid comics, and I do think anybody serious about Marvel giving us more than Spider-man or Wolverine should be checking it out. I just wish it were a little bolder.
I am really sad to see this one go. From Mount Crushmore to Nikola Tesla to Machine Man riding in style in a convertible to a Doom/Ultron/Kang hybrid, this series has had it all. Parker is just so naturally perfect at coming up with the kind of ideas that could only work in superhero comics, while still writing with a depth and compassion for his characters that rise everything above juvenile camp. With DARK AVENGERS gone and RED SHE-HULK wrapping up, I really do wonder who could possibly fill the massive void his apparent absence from Marvel will leave. At least this issue is a complete blast, reminding the faithful why we worship in the house of Parker. Using the universal language speaking Man-Thing not only for hilarious humorous effect but, also, to send Betty Ross into world’s where things are very different from the one we know, Parker illuminates the characters deepest insecurities in a fascinating way. In a world where Banner was never the Hulk, Betty and Bruce’s relationship is explored in a way that is occasionally painful to watch. There’s still plenty of larger than life action, too, as well as continuing cameos from the original She-Hulk. This series is just great, and I wish it could have lasted much longer than it did.
THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN really is the most daring of Slott’s work, even beyond the obvious fact that it’s about, y’know, Doc Ock killing Spider-man and then parading around town in his body. Each subsequent issue of SUPERIOR takes such a huge leap from the last one – we think Peter’s dead, but then he’s a ghost – we think we’ve figured out the ghost, then the ghost is wiped out – we think we’ve figured out Otto as Spider-man, and then this issue, in which Slott and co-writer Christos Gage (a criminally under appreciated and colossally talented writer) show us that Otto may regret his greatest victory. The realization that he really is trapped inside Peter’s body hits Otto in a very real way this issue, and his insatiable ego struggles with that fact. He may not have neccessarily been proud of the body he had before, of the few things he’d accomplished…but he was who he was. Who is he now? It’s a very fascinating issue, and also terrifying – the Spider Slayer’s infestation of three villains previously crippled by Octavius is absolutely chilling. SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN continues to be an unmissable series.
AGE OF ULTRON has gotten weird, and with only one issue left to wrap things up, I honestly have no idea where this thing is going. With NYC left in a similair state of destruction as it was in the present he left behind, Wolverine must travel back into the past (again) to stop himself from killing Hank Pym. Thus, we’ve got two Wolverines, Sue Storm and Hank Pym trying to figure out how to create a better and less, y’know, murdery Ultron. This issue stretches the readers patience for padding – there’s no way the conversation between the four needed to take as long as it did. AGE OF ULTRON has been one the wackiest Marvel events of memory, but I certainly have enjoyed the unpredictability of it all.
Brian Michael Bendis, David Mack
Klaus Janson, Bill Sienkiewicz, David Mack
Alex Maleev, Bill Sienkiewicz, David Mack
DAREDEVIL END OF DAYS has been an incredible series from the beginning, and it seemed nearly impossible that the revelation of Mapone could have been anything but a let down. Though the series doesn’t quite stick the landing we all would have loved to see, I have to say, I actually enjoyed the conclusion. Even if Fury’s passive reveal is completely incredulous, and even if Bendis and Mack don’t really explore Tim’s new role in any kind of a deep way, I like what Mapone’s identity says about Matt. As the Punisher puts it, a person’s last word is often the thing they don’t want to be remebered for. It seems apt that the one thing Matt is most ashamed of is the time he was happy, something he never felt he deserved. Mack’s painted artwork is beautiful, and Janson, Sienkiewicz and Hollingsworth’s illustrations are as gorgeous as ever. DAREDEVIL END OF DAYS is an essential DD story, and a believable end to the Man Without Fear’s life.
BUY THIS COMIC IMMEDIATELY. It has the funniest Santa joke of all time. It has the craziest reference to Carl Jung ever. It has the funniest ninja spy pregnancy action movie one liner in the entire world. It has aliens. It has ghost parents. It has beautiful, expressive artwork. It has it all! ARCHER & ARMSTRONG is just the best. Please buy it!
Well, that’s it for this week! If you’d like to talk about Havok and teen Cyclops hugging it out, the return of Astro City, the impending end of X-FACTOR, or any of the other delicious comics I didn’t have time to talk about, leave a comment below!