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, well, actually only WOLVERINE #6, which was a weird comic. So check it out! HUGE SPOILERS for all titles below.
A perfectly adequate issue of the new DAREDEVIL volume – a little too reliant on tropes, a little tired, a little bit overbearingly Mark Waidy, but still pretty good stuff. Matt overcoming the overpowering smell of Foggy’s chemo treatments is the kind of on-the=nose excess that Waid can indulge in a little too readily at times – the way Waid likes to explore the ‘real-world’ effects of super powers always makes me think of a more humanistic version of Bryne’s writing. I’m not saying you can’t do these things or that Waid doesn’t excel at it – when he hits those ‘Matt is the man without fear’ moments, he hits them out of the park. Sometimes, however, they just seem like corny old sentiment. I felt about the same for the plot of the issue, the bully that gave Matt his nickname now in need of his help, reminding Matt that the boy who became Daredevil wasn’t the easiest kid to get along with in the first place. It’s a bit of a predictable set-up and it isn’t mined for much depth – however, the last page twist is legitimately unexpected. Rodriguez’ pencils are shakier and stiffer than what we’re used to seeing from Samnee, but he keeps the general feel of the series in tact, and does a serviceable job. Not bad, but not great either.
Yeah, this book, I don’t know. It really seems to lack a direction of any kind, and seems to exist mainly to try to make some sense of Valkyrie’s brain numbing convoluted back story. I know Bunn is really adamant about the team taking it’s time in forming (appropriate, I suppose, considering The Defenders history as a ‘non-team’) but I guess I just have a really different sensibility. If you’re going to make a superhero comic book, that superhero should show up at least by page ten, and I think the same with a team-book. Basically, Valkyrie gets really really mad and punches out every other hero in the Marvel Universe while looking back at her past as a Doom Maiden, Defender and super hero. As for the ending, I do have to admit I was shocked, and I did see promise and was intrigued by a bookish and awkward non-powered Indian Jones being on the team. However, as always with death in super hero comics, I expect fake out. I think this was Sliney’s worst issue yet for art work, but considering the amount of characters he’s had to draw this and last issue, I can understand things being rushed. I still think Sliney is a stronger penciller than most fans and critics give him credit for – he’s very much in the D’Anda / Ryan Kelly mode of slightly exaggerated cartoon realism, and his sensibility fits the title. Regardless, THE FEARLESS DEFENDERS bugs me – it just isn’t really about anything yet.
Oh, HAWKEYE, why ya gotta hurt so good? Boy did I hate last issue’s Pizza Dog inanity, but this one is something special. This is up there for best Marvel comic of the year, an incredibly moving story of Barney Barton AKA Trickshot, Clint’s criminal older brother. I think it’s safe to say this issue is heavily influenced by Fraction’s beloved John Darnielle, but that isn’t a complaint – I think Fraction’s writing is strongest when it’s telling stories like these, and not when it’s being suffocating and cloying with it’s cleverness. HAWKEYE is a frustrating book for me, because I love the issues I love with an incredible passion that can only be matched by my distaste for the superficial and twee issues that seem to get all the attention. Really, that’s my whole deal with Fraction as a writer – when he isn’t hurting so bad to be liked or show us the cool things he likes, he shows a pretty amazing depth and compassion, and a supreme ability to illustrate human weakness. Francavilla offers the art of his career – honestly, he pulls off some unbelievably complicated narrative tricks without sacrificing emotional strength or the pulp-sensibility he’s so known for. In fact, it’s pretty incredible to consider that his burning oranges and yellows don’t overpower a book obsessed with purple and white, and instead compliment it in a pretty incredible way. Anyway, this issue is incredible and moving and sad, and washed out all that yucky Pizza Dog taste.
Maybe I’m being a little negative about my comics this week. So, UNCANNY X-MEN #8 then. Okay, everybody, FANTASTIC. I don’t really want to attempt to talk about this, because it will pretty much be nothing more than me squealing in delight. Bendis is doing the work of his Marvel career on the X-men right now, specifically this title. UXM is just plain great superhero comics – from Magneto and Cyclops’ argument / bonding moment to one of the new students leaving the team and returning home to a family that refuses to accept him to DAZZLER AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D. OH MY GOD YES YES YES to Magik being as well written as she’s been in years. Yes, the Cuckoos and Emma feel off and the Magneto S.H.I.E.L.D. subplot mystery is a bit of a bore, but this is good stuff! Bachalo’s art is as delightful as always, particularly his representation of DAZZLER AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D. HOLY GOD THE BEST. Issues like this remind me that I am an X-man fanboy in the truest sense – if you give me an issue done well, I’ll pretty much just love it pieces for being about the X-men. That’s kind of sad. Anyway, fantastic stuff!
When the climax of this issue ended with Superior Spidey killing his adversary again I was kind of disappointing. With Massacre, it felt like there was a lesson being learned for Otto, and the very idea of corporal punishment being explored for us, the reader. With the murder of Spider Slayer, however, I felt kind of cheated – so Otto’s just going to kill whenever he’s in a tight corner? Isn’t that sort of, y’know, boring? Of course, I was wrong – you never know WHAT to expect with Slott writing this crazy thing. Otto’s blackmail of Mayor Jameson had me laugh out loud – the idea that JJJ could only truly come to the conclusion that Spider-man is a menace after trusting him completely was a wonderful touch. Not to give Slott all the credit, Christos Gage pens some wonderful dialogue, especially a darkly humorous scene of bargaining between the Vulture and his hostages. Slott continues to use the unique idea of Otto as Spider-man to explore the ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ idea in new and exciting ways, and SUPERIOR also continues to achieve every issue something superhero comics should always but so rarely do – the burning desire to read the next one, the inability to even accept that I have to wait two more weeks or one more month to know what happens next.
You may recall that I was pretty into the first issue of DC’s newest SUPERMAN title, but this one left me a little cold. I thought the scene with Batman was almost laughingly juvenile, a complete misread of the two characters’ relationships. The stuff with Superman and General Lane also fell completely flat for me. That being said, Superman fighting a crane/bulldozer robot thing and Lex Luthor’s prison break out were fantastic, and the mystery of the 75 year old replacement Superman is really intriguing to me. Lee’s art was unbelievably rushed, but it’s all worth it for Snyder’s Lois Lane – he really understands that character.
Here’s where my annoying set of ridiculous standards show up again. Listen, I don’t know why we’re supposed to be above seeing Batgirl in a comic with BATGIRL plastered across the cover. I’m glad HAWKEYE is proving successful with people, but I really hope that doesn’t mean we see more and more Big Two comics following the day in the life of superheroes non-costumed identities – yes, I want to see Barbara Gordan in a BATGIRL comic, too, but it’s the balance that’s important. Anyway, Simone gives a decent little story, Barbara kicking some crime on a first date, and includes a really chilling father/daughter scene between Commissioner Gordon and his Babs, filled with uncomfortable over protectiveness and resentment. The closing scene between Gordon and Batman is kind of dumb, but otherwise, a solid issue – even if I’d appreciate Batgirl making an appearance in a story about Batgirl being wanted by the police.
These comics are a hoot! Seriously, if you’re a big Godzilla fan like I am, I really recommend checking out the many Godzilla comics IDW puts out. They’re all great. This one sees Godzilla fighting a three headed dragon in space and the government forced to help him out for fear of seeing the world three headed dragon blow up the world. When Godzilla falls head first into the Earth like a meteor, you know I laughed out loud. Swierczynski is really smart in keeping a human perspective to keep us engaged while reading, but still devoting plenty of time to Godzilla fighting monsters and blowing stuff up. A ton of fun.
This was a great first issue! I know absolutely nothing about Valiant, having not the largest knowledge about the infamous ’90s, but I’ve really been enjoying ARCHER & ARMSTRONG, and I’m a huge fan of Tom Fowler, and that Asmus guy ain’t no slouch neither. QUANTUM AND WOODY is a pretty predictable origin issue, but it doesn’t feel like it – it’s so entertaining and exciting and the characters are so fleshed out that you don’t notice the story follows all the beats we’re used to. There are a lot of big laughs to be had, too – the bit with the chloroform rag had me howling. I was genuinely pleasantly surprised by this, and I can’t wait to read more.
Brian Wood has now introduced a Strong Female Character to go along with every character in the STAR WARS mythos – Han’s got one tagging along, Vader’s appointed his acting Moff, and Leia continues to be the primary protagonist of the series. Of course, the really amazing thing about Wood is that he does this kind of thing without calling attention to it – his work never screams ‘Look at my equality skills!’, but rather simply showcases his amazing characterization work. I really enjoy the way Wood gives each character equal screen time, while managing to flow the disparate characters stories together in a tangible enough way that all the scene changes never seem jarring. I’m really enjoying this series.
Okay, let’s finish off with a bit of a SPEED ROUND. GHOSTED #1 was very entertaining – the lead character is shallow and one dimensional as they come, but the high concept is intriguing, and the story moved along at a quick and enjoyable pace. SIX GUN GORILLA #2 was fantastic, a more action orientated issue, with revelations about where exactly our titular primate comes from, and still offering plenty of big ideas and moving moments. ASTRO CITY #2 is the good kind of nostalgic, SUICIDE SQUAD #22 is depressing considering Kot is leaving the title he turned into one of the best of the New 52 in a couple of issues time, BATMAN ’66 #2 is everything right with the world, YOUNG AVENGERS #7 is my first drop of Marvel NOW! (let me know if it stops being the worst), THE TRUE LIVES OF THE FABULOUS KILL JOYS #2 certainly ain’t no UMBRELLA ACADEMY but that Cloonan art is nice.
Well, that’s it for this week! If you’d like to talk about Batman’s Zero Year, Hulk’s team up with Daredevil or any of the other delicious comics I didn’t have time to talk about, leave a comment below! Otherwise, I’ll be back next week, and keep checking in at the Pure Mood for, as always, daily updates on all things comics and pop culture!