The Weekly Haul: Reviews for June 26, 2008
Just for the fun of it, here’s one last story from Heroes Con (which I reported on extensively here and here). Nobody’s mentioned this, but simultaneous to the comics convention was another big event titled "Dub," basically a con for tricked out cars. One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen was a group of P. Diddy look-alikes gaping as a Heroes attendee strolled past in full manga gear (don’t know which character) and did a spinning kick/sword swipe right in front of them. I’m still amazed the weekend ended peacefully.
That aside, let’s turn to the week in comics, which was huge. HUGE. DC trotted out Final Crisis #2, and Marvel counter-punched with an incredible 30-plus issues. Once the smoke cleared, Marvel stood up strong, dominating another go ’round. And DC’s bad month just got worse.
Book of the Week: The Immortal Iron Fist #16 — This is a packed book, starting out with the wind down from the epic battle that just took place in the Seven Cities of Heaven. Danny Rand is a changed man, dismantling his corporation and doing whatever he can to help the world.
You can see the influence of Orson Randall, and it’s nice to see his presence linger on after his death. Danny’s transitioning into a more mature character, asking the big questions. It’s the natural result of the recent ground-shaking, and Matt Fraction’s a smart man for taking things in that direction.
There are lots of extremely well written little personal moments in this issue, between Danny and Misty, Jeryn, Luke Cage and a swarm of pint-sized karate students. But before things get too heart-warming, Fractioin ends with a game-changing reveal that’s shocking in part because of how well it’s set up, in part through brilliant page layouts.
The only question is how well the book will hold up once Fraction moves on.
The Runners Up:
Captain America #39 — There’s lots to see in this issue, as per usual with Ed Brubaker, but the main draw is the fight between Bucky and the former Nomad, both of whom are essentially masquerading as Captain America. Think about that: A revived Bucky with a robotic arm fighting against Nomad.
That sounds like something straight out of the dreadful muck of the ’90s, yet Brubaker pulls it off with ease, crafting another tense and dramatic issue with plenty of action. There’s also the continued subtle developments of Red Skull’s agenda, a nice moment for Sharon Carter and a quality fill-in artist for Steve Epting.
Daredevil #108 — We’ve finally seemed to pass the "Matt Murdock’s life can’t get any worse" stage that had dragged on for several years. He’s still miserable (and he gets his butt kicked), but he has quite the interesting case to dive into and appears to be responding well to the mental challenge (even if he does resort to fisticuffs at one point). Also, Dakota North is quickly becoming a favorite character.
New Avengers #32 and Mighty Avengers #15 — Your Skrullapalooza moment of the week, as these two issues again give a straight-laced explanation to the Skrull mystery. In the former, we see how the Skrull queen replaced Spider Woman, and in the latter, we see another Skrull replace Hank Pym. There’s a whiff of writing the present to make sense of history in all this, but each is still a deeply compelling read as Brian Michael Bendis fleshes out (HA!) the Skrull invaders. Still, he doesn’t make clear whether Pym and Drew are dead, and there’s been a lot of that ambiguity so far.
Green Lantern #32 — New issue, same old dance. I just couldn’t care less about Hal’s origin, no matter how well Geoff Johns casts it, but once you throw Sinestro into the mix (as a sort of evil Yoda), things become extremely interesting. At least things are coming to a head with the "Blackest Night" prophecy, and Johns leaves us asking, "Who is William Hand?"
Superman #677 — James Robinson brings a legacy of great comics to Superman, and he starts off with an exceedingly well written issue that ends up as an odd exercise in superhero camp. The issue starts off with Superman playing catch with Krypto, for Pete’s sake! There’s also a big monster and Atlas as a villain, so I’m just not sure exactly where things are headed.
B.P.R.D. The Ectoplasmic Man #1 — We finally get the origin of Johann Kraus from Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, and it’s a surprisingly low key affair. There aren’t any of the grand implications of most Hellboy-related comics, but in a way that’s a nice change. It’s a small, simple one and done that’s effective in every way.
Black Panther #37 — The one true disappointment from Marvel this week. After a brilliant setup last month, this issue essentially amounts to a "whose is bigger" contest between Black Panther and Killmonger. Just a scattered issue that drops far too many of the interesting plot points brought up earlier and leaves with too awkward of a cliffhanger.
Conan the Cimmerian #0 — Some nice framing with a Robert E. Howard poem, which takes a very straightforward slice and dice Conan story and lends it a thoughtful vibe. There’s nothing especially new here regarding plot, but for 99 cents it’s a worthy buy.
Captain America: Mythos #1 — Pretty artwork, but there’s nothing else of note to this dull, text-heavy and unimaginative reenactment of Captain America’s creation. Why are we hearing this story again?
Uncanny X-Men #499 — More of the hippy adventures, which end up making sense but still being stupid, as some old hippy used a telepath to recreate the world he wanted. That and some really bad design (black pages and panels with white borders) sinks this ship.
1985 #2 — My love of Tommy Lee Edwards’ artwork can only be matched by my disdain for Mark Millar’s writing on this boring pile of junk. It’s thoroughly dumb, with stupid character moments galore and still nothing to differentiate it at all from Last Action Hero and the like.
Final Crisis #2 — I hate to dogpile on DC, which has pretty much had the worst month ever, but good gravy, this big event is really, truly bad. What happens? The heroes bury J’onn but are more caught up in the hunt for Orion’s killer (WHY?). The Alpha Lanterns are evil, possessed or both. The bad gods are coming and wreaking havoc. And some idiots in Japan are pretending to be heroes. This seemed less like a story and more of an information dump, with illogical steps between almost every character beat. I’m just sorry to see the brilliant J.G. Jones caught up in this mess.
Van Jensen is a former crime reporter turned comic book journalist. Every Wednesday, he braves Atlanta traffic to visit Oxford Comics, where he reads a whole mess of books for his weekly reviews. Van’s blog can be found at graphicfiction.wordpress.com.
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