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Hibbs? Why is HE stinkin’ up the joint?!?!

Brian Hibbs

Hi, it is me, the y’know, original founder of this blog.  You might have noticed I’ve been just a little slack in posting since around Christmas time. The Season soaked up my time, then I started my new consulting business, but mostly, I needed a break from writing reviews.  It happens!

I was going to start posting a few weeks ago, but that was the week where Abhay descended out of the blue for a solid week of posts, and I didn’t want to step on his toes.

This week, we welcome our newest SavCrit — the artist formerly known as J_Smitty (Yes, eventually every regular commenter will be given a seat in the big chair*), now unveiled as Jordan Smith, whose first post is directly below this one, but I felt like I couldn’t put off my return for much longer (it is MAY!), so join me below the cut, would you?


Now, I am hella hella rusty, so forgive me as I get back up to speed… and I also picked a maybe not so great week to do this, since it be a little thin on the new comics beat, but let’s see where we get how we get when, shall we?

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #15AU: I haven’t especially been a fan of this title since it launched — I really don’t feel like it has had a point or direction of any particular value (Except, maybe, “Let’s try to capitalize on the Avengers movie 15 months ago”), and THIS issue is a tie-in to one of the most drama-free Big Crossover Events. I mean, let’s face it, “Age of Ultron” isn’t really going to have any real impact, even if they DO take away Logan’s healing (though, looking at the new Wolverine movie trailer, one assumes that that is REALLY being done to tie in with the film…), or bring Angela into the Marvel universe.

(which, by the way, is a real “WTF?!!?” moment and, honestly, feels more like a vindictive swipe at McFarlane [“Hah! I’ll give it to MARVEL!”] than anything resembling a cohesive creative plan…. or, for that matter, something that any fan, anywhere was looking for)

So, one generally assumes that tie-ins to such a beast would also be inconsequential and uninteresting — and I think they mostly have been so far to date.

Not so this one, however.

Well, I guess it is “inconsequential” because nothing that happened in this comic will matter in 6 weeks or 6 months, or, probably, even be referred to in the parent book, even — but so far this was certainly the most interesting bit of  AoA to date, being a look at how AoA is impacting Britain, introduces at least one interesting new character, and had a really tremendous “What If…?” status change for another major character.

AA#15au is written by Al Ewing, who is very rapidly becoming  my favorite new writer, and whom I’m very much suspecting really is The Real Deal, y’know? I want to see Ewing on an original US series of his own creation because based on his doing other people’s ideas I would guess he’s got his own SANDMAN, TRANSMETROPOLITAN or PREACHER in him (if, y’know, you’re about my age, those are big big touchstones….)  I thought this comic was the best Avengers thing I’ve read in a really long time, and was absolutely VERY GOOD.


BATMAN AND ROBIN RED HOOD #20: Snyder’s run on the main title, and Morrison’s various perambulations through the Bat-mythos have largely overshadowed Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s title, which some months really is the best of the bat-books. I like what they’re doing here post-Damien, using the other bat-family sidekicks as stand-ins for the Stage of Grief. On the other hand, I’m decidedly uncomfortable with “Carrie Kelley” (The “Dark Knight Returns Robin”), one because she doesn’t seem even remotely like Carrie Kelley in DKR to me, two because it some how seems disrespectful to DKR, and three because bringing in a new Robin this close to the dispatch of the last one, seems like a really lousy idea. We’ll see, we’ll see, maybe they’re just fucking with us, I sure hope so.  I thought (with the exception of the pages she appeared on) that this was pretty GOOD.


CHIN MUSIC #1: You’d think that 30s Gangsters and The Occult would go together like buttah, especially when you’ve got Horror-Guy Steve Niles teaming with Tough Guy Tony Harris on a new creator-owned series, but I got to tell you: I could hardly follow the who and the what and the why do I care here. Interest almost always comes from character, not situation, and there aren’t any realized characters on display here.  EH.


GARTH ENNIS BATTLEFIELDS #6 (OF 6): Even though you really needed to read an entirely different series of “Battlefields” comics to appreciate the end of this issue, and even though Russ Braun’s art is a little too… flat for my tastes (though, good on Garth for loyalty and keeping Braun working), I thought this was a pretty wonderful, poignant, and moral and human ending to the story — Ennis’ specialty, really. This kind of work will never find a wide audience, but I’m so appreciative that Ennis makes sure it keeps coming out. VERY GOOD.


JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #3:  Three issues now, and I’ve yet to feel a moment of interest in this set-up or collection of characters — the story is so Plothammer-y that it ain’t funny, and David Finch looks like he had about an hour to draw the issue. Plus, that whole “WTF” thing didn’t really work, did it? Most of the “shocks” weren’t, or, worse, were merely rhetorical questions. Plus that they’re still shipping into May… ugh. this book may represent everything twhat’s wrong with the New52 as a whole: plothammered and ugly. But maybe I’m just cranky. Either way, I thought it was fairly AWFUL.


UBER #1:  I don’t get this comic. I mean who is it for and all that. I can see (somewhat) the intellectual appeal of a story about nazi superman, but when the rubber meets the road, these are the antagonist, and, for this to work as a story, we’re required to have protagonists for whom to root. I don’t see any in the first issue (or in the #0, for that matter), and the art by Caanan White is “Avatar House Style” enough (and ugly) that that won’t be bringing me back. Avatar, trying to harness the Power of Bleeding Cool tried to convince people that the book is “hot” somehow, but it’s pretty icy cold on the real world racks (besides the coupla speculator-types that bought #0). I generally like Kieron Gillen’s writing, but I think he’s pretty much entirely missed the needle here, not just the eye. AWFUL.


UNCANNY AVENGERS #8: I truly don’t get the point of this comic either, if it’s not a showcase for John Cassaday. I like Daniel Acuna’s art fine, I guess, but he’s pretty far in style from Cassaday, and the story has felt to me like the worst excesses of Rick Remender, trying to do Big Story with characters that aren’t strong enough to support it, using obscure and uninteresting bits of Marvel history to do so. This is pretty EH for a “flagship” book.


WOLVERINE #3: If you had told me that there would be a Wolverine comic where I’d only be ordering 1 single rack copy by issue #3, and that, by Friday, it would still just be sitting there on the shelf, despite being by Paul Cornell and Alan Davis, I’d laugh at you. But here we are. Honestly, it’s not that bad — really, it is OK, so why are people just not buying this?


Right, that’s enough to start, I thinketh. Like I said: rusty. But, as always, I want to know what YOU thought….





* = Note: This will NOT be happening; don’t get your hopes up, you!

12 Responses to “ Hibbs? Why is HE stinkin’ up the joint?!?! ”

  1. I really like Paul Cornell as a Writer, both in Prose and in Comics. I have tremendous respect for him as a professional. And from my limited personal exposure, I think he is a wonderful human being. And my love for Alan Davis knows only the bounds of a restraining order.

    And yet, you are right. I am not buying it. Sure, Marvel made it easy for me by making it $3.99. But that is an excuse, not a reason. If it were $2.99, I would have it on my pull list, I would be paying for it every month, even reading it, but still not buying it. Not really.

    Much in the way that Davis’ art has always seemed too… “clean” for a Wolverine story, Cornell’s treatment here just doesn’t fit either. Polite SciFi was a wonderful take on Lex Luthor. But it is just the opposite of Wolverine. And rather than have a compare/contrast, which might work, Logan seems to have had all his rough edges filed down to fit in a round hole.

    I think there is more to it than that – maybe the movie? – because Paul Cornell gave us some wonderful rough edges in “Demon Knights”. But that Cornell doesn’t seem to be on display here.

  2. No one gives a fuck about Angela unless they are being cut a check.

    Not one hot fuck.

  3. “…feels more like a vindictive swipe at McFarlane [“Hah! I’ll give it to MARVEL!”] than anything resembling a cohesive creative plan”

    Yeah, you nailed it. I’ve been trying to put my finger on it, but that’s it.

    Gaiman used to be my favorite writer in all of comics, but over the last decade or so his quality has declined and he’s also seemed a lot… pettier in his interviews.

    I can’t imagine Angela being in more than a handful of Marvel comics ever again after the calendar turns to 2014. So what is the point of this? It’s a quick “shock value” move for Marvel that draws a lot of publicity. But Gaiman’s angle seems solely driven by pettiness, and maybe a bit of greed as well. There’s no creative reason for this at all. It’s shoehorned at best and very, very tacky.

  4. Part of why “Wolverine” isn’t selling is that Marvel’s used up a lot of goodwill on the character by launching three #1s all close to each other. Worse, “Wolverine MAX” had that artist change at issue #2, “Savage Wolverine” is light on story for the first arc and as of the second will become like “Avenging Spider-Man,” which is to say all over the place, and the character is in too many other books.

    And his past is no longer a mystery, so he’s less interesting. And he heals too fast, so he’s almost indestructible. Marvel’s done damage to the character for sure. Additionally, as you’ve said in previous columns, Marvel’s trained readers to buy the events that “count,” and the third Wolverine monthly, even if positioned as the flagship book, doesn’t “count.”

  5. Brian,
    Thanks for the reviews. On Uber and your point about a protagonist, do you think a writer needs to identify who the protagonist is early on? I haven’t read Uber, but storytelling in general interests me as does this topic. In some of the literary classics like Frankenstein it is very questionable who the protagonist and antagonists are at any point, and in some stories it seems to switch. Is Walter white still the protagonist of breaking bad or is it now hank? Do you think this confusion is okay from a story telling perspective?
    I appreciate your thoughts.

  6. My theory is that Marvel ISN’T actually using Angela, but are going to switch her out for Marvelman at the last minute; she’s simply there to provide cover, so no one guesses when Marvelman finally appears.

    That’s gotta be it, right? Because no one really cares about Angela and which publisher is publishing Generic Scantily-Clad Warrior Lady #59, beyond a Nelson-ing “Ha Ha” pointed at Neil Gaiman and Joe Quesada, who are Nelson-ing at Todd MacFarlane, for reasons.

  7. He is RISEN!!! How’s the teeth?

    BATTLEFIELDS – I don’t know if your comment about Ennis keeping Braun working was meant to sound as harsh as I thought it did, but I think he’s okay. He’s got the basics he just needs some pizzazz in there. For an artist at Dynamite he’s practically Alex Toth.

    UBER – Nazis are people too, Brian Hibbs! Don’t you judge them! Also, Uber Hotness Thereof: I tried to get #0 from my LCS and was informed he had sold out. Well, your loss UBER! Because I ain’t starting on issue 2 (which is issue 1 because sanity is a lost cause). Also, the “eye”, “needle” bit was something I’ll be stealing when I think everyone’s forgotten about it.

    I can’t tell you how excited I am Angela is coming back! I really can’t! Because I’m not! Either it will really be Caleb’s MM Theory or it will just be Angela and the comics world will have died a bit more because, basically, Marvel can now get its audience excited about f*** all. Angela. Come on now. Mind you, I always prefered Spawn On A Horse myself. Although Spawn In A Hat was good too.

    I also note that on your Brian Hibbs, Consulting Detective page you fail to say how much you hate Pokemon. Have you mellowed?

    Thanks for the words and best to you.

  8. Maybe somebody else out there knows better, but my understanding was that *ALL* of Gaiman’s legal disputes against McFarlane were lumped together in the “Marvels & Miracles” venture that Marvel helped fund… Padraig O’Mealoid is doing a fascinating piece of work over at comicsbeat.com unraveling the complicated history of Miracleman in his series of “Poisoned Chalice” articles. His recent pieces on the Angela mess left me with that distinct impression.

    So maybe Marvel getting licensed / sold the Angela character was always part of the deal?

  9. Also, UBER is a very strange piece of work. Like a cross between one of Warren Ellis’s Avatar titles minus the punk loathing, or a lost chapter of Rick Veitch’s “Heroica” without the overheated insanity. Ending up being oddly unpleasant, yet clinically dull.

  10. I’d like to pop up from lurking to say that I really, really dug AA#15au, just thought it was a great story that dovetailed nicely with the MI-13 series. As Brian says, looking forward to more of the author’s work.

  11. @George: “On Uber and your point about a protagonist, do you think a writer needs to identify who the protagonist is early on?”

    On paper, probably not, but I will make the following chain of argument: there is more entertainment than any one person could consume. Hell, there is very nearly more COMICS alone, than any one person can consume. Therefore, the true commodity is time and attention, and works that don’t give the audience what they’re looking for when they plop down their money are probably works that won’t catch on with the audience.

    Now, one viable counter might be “Well, a lot of Avatar’s books are just aimed at sex n’ death readers who maybe aren’t all that discriminating”, and it could well be it doesn’t matter here. But I don’t think that will be the case.

    (I also think that one might argue that the blonde scientist lady is actually the protagonist, though I could not tell you one thing about her character other than “blond scientist lady”, so…?)

    When I say “protagonist”, I don’t literally mean “heroic figure”, BTW — I meant “character we’re meant to relate to”. In your example of Walter White, clearly he’s the protagonist, and we’re meant to relate to him, even though he’s walking the road to hell. I mean, I wanted him to (say) triumph over Gus, didn’t you?


  12. @Brian Hibbs: I appreciate your point about time and attention. with the level of content out there a creator does need to get to the point.

    On Walter White, yes I wanted him to triumph over Gus, but now I kind of want Hank or Jesse to triumph over Walt. At some point he kind of stopped being the protagonist for me.

    On Avatar, I thought Dan the Unharmable was okay. Not as good as Young Liars but kind of funny. I kind of like Lapham he is a crazy man.

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