Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Regularly Scheduled Comics Update

Long post will be long, but it's been that kinda summer, my friends.

Okay, so it's comic book time again. And this one is going to be less enthusiastic than the last few, I'm sorry to say. Much has changed since the hopeful beginning of this summer. I'll just start at the beginning with the monthly buys, but I'll do categories this time. As usual, this is mainly Marvel, because that's how I roll (for some ungodly reason). I should also point out that in the wake of the Avengers vs. X-Men clusterfuck, Marvel is doing a reorganizational thing (not a reboot) known as Marvel NOW! in which all the usual lineups are reshuffled--and apparently priorities too. So this is basically shit leading up to that.

Spider-Books
(Note: these aren't getting reshuffled--though Pete's an Avenger, obvs. These will be the nice ones, though, so much more brief than the X-Book rants coming up...)

1. Avenging Spider-Man. Still good, actually, though the last issue (#11) was totally phoned in by return/original writer Wells. It was meant to be the 50th anniversary, so of course it went back to the beginning. But it was fuck ugly (Dillon, wtf are you doing? No.) and cheesy in a bad way. I was disappoint. But hey, the arc before it with Captain Marvel was fun as hell, as advertised, and we get Deadpool next month with a new artist and writer, so maybe it'll be fun again.

2. Ultimate Spider-Man. No complaints here. I admit that I don't always love Bendis, but when I do, it's generally Spider-Man. He's doing a good job tying Miles back into the whole Peter Parker thing while still giving him his own excellent drama. The last issue brought in Captain America, who's a huge dick and it's awesome. Marquez's art remains fabulous. Etc.

3. Spider-Men. Only has one issue to go. I mentioned this in my Amazing Spider-Man movie post, but it's basically 20-something 616 (as in, usual Marvelverse) Peter Parker getting zapped into the Ultimate Universe where 13-year-old Miles Morales is the new Spider-Man... cuz Pete's dead there. #4 actually had the touching moment Avenging Spider-Man failed miserably to deliver, so I was happy, there. It's Bendis writing, and I adore Pichelli's pencils.

From Spider-Men #4 by Bendis and Pichelli. BRB tearbending.
I may or may not decide to start buying Amazing Spider-Man again. This is the book my dad grew up on, and therefore the book I grew up on... and the book that always sends me into one of my "NO MORE COMIC BOOKS sulks when it inevitably breaks my heart. I bought the 50th Anniversary #692 and enjoyed it, both for the actual story and for the bonus stuff. Hesitated over buying the next one this week, though. Dan Slott has written some stuff I really like and some stuff that makes me want to throw things. We'll see how desperate I get. 

Avengers Books

1. Avengers Academy. Still the best thing going, but unfortunately it's not going to exist in the wake of Marvel NOW! Not only that, but Christos Gage, who I can safely say is my current favorite comic book writer, doesn't look to be a regular on any upcoming Marvel title. So yeah, you could say I'm fucking pissed. This book had better not go the same sporadic route the bad ass Young Avengers went--or the suddenly sub-par route Runaways did.

Marvel, this is why you can't have nice things.

Still, I'm enjoying this final arc a lot. Great character moments, good action, nice art from Divito, and I just hope they don't let these kids get lost.

From Avengers Academy #36 by Gage and Divito. See, Berto? See what happens when you talk shit on The Hero's Journey? Tsk.

Also the "Island of Misfit Toys" collection that is the teachers here. I will never, ever like Hank Pym, but he is at least interesting here, and Gage did such a beautiful job picking up loose end characters (Speedball, Quicksilver, Tigra, Justice) and carrying through a real arc. Gah.

So yeah, I definitely still recommend the trades of these, if you're interested in dipping your toe into the Marvelverse. Well worth it.

ETA: UPDATE: Marvel!NOW was already dead to me, but now it's official. NOPE.

2. Fuck the Avengers, basically.

X-Books
(Very little love, some outright hate. Fuuuuuck.)

1. Wolverine and the X-Men. It seems like far more than four months ago that this book had favorite potential. The cracky fun was occasionally interrupted by some stupidity, but it seemed as if these were issues that might be sorted out later. Mainly, issues of character interaction and relationship. Surely, Aaron would explain what the hell he was doing with Shadowcat/Iceman, right? Why the fuck he was dicking Husk over?

Thing is, I don't even care any more. After a few really, really bad continuity errors rising out of this AvX thing, plus, far from decreasing the creepy in his character relationships, Aaron actually upped it with sexual harassment as a repeated punchline... yeah. Nope. I'm done. You have punched my squick button, buddy. Ugh, what a waste of a great setup.

2. Uncanny X-Men. Here's the thing: I think Kieron Gillen is honestly a very good writer, and I'm not just saying that because of Phonogram. I think he understands his characters. The problem is that this whole AvX editorial mandate means that Cyclops and Emma Frost, in particular, have to act in very un-Cyclops and Emma Frost-y ways. Any time he does character interaction, it's perfect. It makes total sense.

But he got landed with the Phoenix Five. Which is the dumbest idea in the history of dumb Marvel crossover ideas. And I don't give a shit, so I stopped buying it as of last month.

It's kind of a shame I don't read Iron Man, since that's where he's going with Marvel NOW! But whatever.

3. Astonishing X-Men. Actually got better. I've discussed previously how this is basically my dream team, so I'll spare you. I got my Northstar Wedding Issue and it was well enjoyed. Had a few WTF moments, but overall gave me BEAUBIERFEELS (yes, allcaps) for a week or two. Helped because Aurora was depicted as an actual human being with feelings. Can we just say that only women are allowed to write her from now? That'd at least give her a fighting chance...

From Astonishing X-Men #51 by Liu and Perkins. BEAUBIERFEELS.
The arc was uneven, writing-wise, but it's starting to smooth out on the Karma arc happening now. I'm still a bit sick to death of the "woman gets mind-controlled" plot device, but I trust Liu to finish it off well. Still not a Perkins fan, however. Sometimes I really like his panels--the ones above are a great example--but his style is the polar opposite of all my favorite comic book art, really. He's good, but I don't care for him, if that makes sense. (And seriously, that one shit-eating grin he gives everyone. I can't deal.)

**As a side-note, for those of you interested in this arc for wedding purposes only (entirely possible considering the content of this blog in general), I can recommend the hardback collection or the trade when it comes around. The story stands alone without much background. The bonus stuff isn't that exciting, but it's interesting for historic purposes, I guess. Basically they just reprinted Alpha Flight v1 #106, which is the issue where Northstar comes out. It's ugly as hell--Marvel in the early 90s was ugly in general--and the story is both problematic and a rushed mish-mash of an after-school special, basically. But it was a big deal, and I guess is... vaguely relevant? First Marvel superhero to come out, first to get married to someone of the same sex? Or something? Sure, why not. Go on and pat yourself on the back, Marvel. Why stop now?**

4. X-Men Legacy. Also relegated to the "don't care" pile. Which is sad because it's Gage writing, and I really trusted that given some time he could save the book for me. But I just don't give a shit at this point. I'm waiting til the reshuffle, then I'll decide what to buy.



5. Uncanny X-Force. I came late to this one for the Dark Angel Saga. The line up is a cool one, but I really only had an interest in Psylocke and Archangel at first, hence my finally hopping on for that, and only once it was out as a collection. I liked it so much that I eventually caught up with the whole series... and fucking loved it. The Apocalypse Solution was amazing in every fucking way (basically one of those "if you could go back in time and kill Hitler as a child, would you?" stories. Their answer is one of my fave comics panels ever for sheer "holy fuck that just happened" effect). Jerome Opeña, marry me. Remender, way to write some fucking anti-heroes. Then the lead up from Deathlok Nation into Dark Angel. And then...

Okay, the Trial of Fantomex was silly as fuck, but nothing involving the Captain Britain Corps will ever not be silly as fuck. I had been forewarned that things went downhill for this series here, but even after that, I still wasn't quite sure it was going to happen. And then... and then momentous issue #25. Which was... okay-ish. Sorta. Except the "special bonus material" (vintange Remender and Opeña!) was complete shit. A casually misogynist Wolverine backstory moment and a crappy Deadpool issue that was a giant fat joke? Yeah. Fuck you very much.

I'm caught up with the whole run now, and it genuinely did go downhill, as I was warned. Every awesome thing they built up with Psylocke is effectively tanked (oh wait, a woman being mind-controlled again? VICTIMIZING YAY! Also, PS: she is not actually Japanese, fuckers, so stop making her an appropriating douche, ugh); the man vs. animal debate inherent in a mutant kill squad run by Wolverine has gone off the interesting rails into STFU territory; and they completely screwed Fantomex, who fast became my favorite character. The dude, everything about him, every fucking detail and word, was the most brilliant existentialist experiment. And... blargh, now. Blargh. I'm so annoyed I might even have to write fanfiction just to FIX IT in my head.

It's almost over, as in for good, and now that they're on the new Brotherhood (Daken! Yay!) and Evan (who is part of my whole existentialist experiment love), I'm interested, at least. But blargh. Please save it. Please.

6. Sortakinda--I have been told I must start reading X-Treme because apparently Dazzler is kicking ass. Due to a recent sale, I also bought a large chunk of the current New Mutants title, and I'm a huge New Mutants fan. So we'll see how that shakes out, since I dropped three other X-books...

Solo Books
(A mixed bag, but most of the bad is conjecture.)

1. Captain Marvel. A few months ago, Carol Danvers, previously Ms. Marvel, took on the Captain Marvel mantel left behind by Mar-Vell when he died. (Again. He does that a lot.) This shiny new series is written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and drawn by Dexter Soy--and it's pretty much a clinic in storytelling. I didn't think I'd like Soy's art when I grabbed the first issue, but I've changed my mind. We've just had #3 and I'm in love.

From Captain Marvel #2 by DeConnick and Soy.
Marvel's late to the girl power party, but they went at it good and hard when they finally did, I reckon. Also, I got a bunch of flack for this from friends when the design was first made public, but I still say McKelvie's costume redesign means he should redesign ALL THE COSTUMES. Fuck yes.

2. Hawkeye. Hawkeye is my third favorite Avenger ever, as I've mentioned multiple times. So him getting a new ongoing--and one kicking this fucking gorgeous David Aja design, at that--was a matter of some excitement for me a few months back. I don't have a great deal of faith in Matt Fraction, as he's committed some atrocities in the past, but hey, new book, new start, right? Anyhow, how can you fuck up Hawkeye?

Well, the first issue didn't. And I thought the second would be even better, because they were bringing in the other Hawkeye, Kate Bishop, my favorite Young Avenger. (Okay, second-favorite--my favorite is Speed, but that's obvious to everyone who's ever met me.) And I mean, look at this page. This is some serious mastering of your medium shit from Aja:

From Hawkeye #2 by Fraction and Aja

Click to enlarge if you like, but seriously. Fucking gorgeous.

And then they had to go and make it all awkward with Clint telling Kate that he wanted to work with her because he "doesn't want to sleep with her". And Kate telling him that would be creepy (she's, like, eighteen, and he's her mentor hellooooooo position of power!), so yay... then looking all disappointed.

Now, Fraction has said that this is not going to be a thing. Like ever. At all. Clint meant what he said, and that's that. But seriously, it was so. Creepy. You guys. And I'm so annoyed because the rest of the issue was so. Awesome. It would've been perfect. No joke. Fucking gorgeously brotp Hawkeye awesome.

So if it was a writer I trusted, I'd be fine with the way it went down. But it's not. So I'm not. Goddammit, do not fuck up an awesome thing, please. :/

3. Gambit. As a child of the 90s (well, a teenager of the 90s), Gambit is the reason I got into the X-Men in the first place. I'm starting to think part of the requirement for being on my list of favorite X-People involves some manner of bastard-French accent (three is a pattern, and even if I count Northstar and Aurora as one, which I do, now there's Fantomex so fuck). Also, I like my good guys to be bad as often as not, if you haven't noticed. Anyhow, point is, I always try a new Gambit series, and recently I have always been horrifically bored with them.

But we're on the second issue of this one and it's kinda fun so far. Asmus doesn't go overboard on the dialect (writing dialogue in dialect =/= writing out an accent phonetically for the love of god), and Mann's art is good for the story they're telling. Remy looks suitably hot, which is also important.

From Gambit #2 by Asmus and Mann
So we'll see.

And that's all for this especially long edition of "what I'm reading in comics". Lately there have been a lot of questions about my superpowered love stuff and when it's gonna continue. I hope that even for those of you who don't care about comics, this post at least puts to rest any fears that I will not be continuing in that vein. Because oh yeah. I've been this obsessed (and more) with comics since I was born, basically. Makes it difficult to run out of superpowered heroes and heroines of my own. Looooooooove!

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