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Chris Attempts to Write Capsules

Chris Eckert

Hey, long time no see. I’ve been remiss in picking up single issues of anything lately, and my trade review is being held up until I can rewatch Major League for research purposes, so I grabbed some Big Name Titles off the shelf and attempted to write capsules for them. They turned out more like horsepills.

Amazing Spider-Man #592 by Mark Waid & Mike McKone
The past two issues’ set-up for “24/7” was goofy in all the wrong ways: dumb science poorly applied to handwave a two month gap that in turn handwaves a bunch of supporting cast developments. Still, as headline-grabbing high concepts go, J. Jonah Jameson: Mayor of New York is a fun one. It’s also nice to see someone going Full-Time Superhero without any of the “my civilian identity is only a façade, I must save EVERYONE” angst that traditionally spurs on this trope. Waid and McKone have enough fun with the concept that I can even forgive their “Look Who Aunt May’s Having Sex With!” scene at the end, something that’s somehow become its own trope in recent years. Like a surprising number of recent Spider-Man stories, this is GOOD.

Hulk #11 by Jeph Loeb & Ed McGuinness
Three things about Hulk:
1. As if the 1990s weren’t back already with Skrull Kill Krew and Fantastic Force on the shelves, this book channels that decade’s insatiable appetite for splash pages. This issue’s got forty four panels over the course of twenty two pages. I know this is supposed to be the big dumb action fight book, but really?
2. I enjoyed McGuinness and Dexter Vines’s efforts last issue to channel John Buscema and John Romita on the Silver Surfer and Namor flashbacks (why no Gene Colan style for Dr. Strange, though?). Those style changes come back briefly in this issue, but with no real rhyme or reason. I’m wondering if I was projecting the whole thing.
3. Jeph Loeb’s cannibal fetish must be stopped. Between Killer Croc in Hush, Ultimate Blob, Sabretooth in his Wolverine run and now an adamantium-tooted Tiger Shark declaring his intention to EAT NAMOR ALIVE, this is a troubling pattern. I realize that mass murder, rape and murdering children have become old hat in modern day comics, but that doesn’t mean we need yet another lazy shortcut to badass villainy.
If you’re young or drunk, I guess this might be OKAY. It aspires to be nothing other than dumb slam-bang action, and its little stubby T-Rex arms of ambition can handle such a short reach.

Justice League of America #32 by Dwayne McDuffie & Rags Morales
Some important things to remember about Dwayne McDuffie’s run on JLoA:

  • It’s twenty one issues in.
  • It began with Justice League of America Wedding Special #1, in which no one got married.
  • That first issue tied into the relaunch of Green Arrow/Black Canary, and his run has subsequently been used as a tie-in depository for Salvation Run, Tangent: Superman’s Reign, Suicide Squad: Raise the Flag, Final Crisis and the forthcoming Justice League: Cry for Justice, a book that won’t be out until July at the earliest.
  • Pursuant to these tie-ins, seven out of twenty one issues have been written, in whole or in part, by someone else.
  • There have been sixteen pencillers and twenty three inkers so far, and at least one more of each in the next couple issues, if solicitations are to be believed.
  • Solicitations are regularly not to be believed for this run.

I point all of this out to point out that while I am a big fan of McDuffie, his showrunning on Justice League Unlimited, and the Milestone Universe he co-created and is integrating into this comic, it’s a massive uphill climb to get this book into the readable column.

And this is just barely in that category. Rags Morales is the fifth artist in as many issues, and while he’s not my favorite artist, he’s a welcome respite from Ed Benes and his terrible clones. The sequences that deal with the remaining team coming to grips with losing so many comrades to Editorial Edict are actually pretty fun, but things fall apart when the “surprise” mastermind villain Starbreaker shows up. The issue seems to be written as if Starbreaker’s return is a big reveal, but this was severely undercut by putting him on the cover of the issue. And spotlighting him for last month’s “Faces of Evil” linewide event. And having him show up in February’s “Origins and Omens” linewide event. Neither of those tie-ins were written by McDuffie, which adds to the feeling that DC undercut its own story here.

This is pretty OKAY, but it looks like more fill-ins and revolving door artists in the forseeable future, which dispirits me. Still, this is somehow DC’s top-selling monthly title, so I suppose their theory is, “why mess with success?”

Mighty Avengers #24 by Dan Slott & Rafa Sandoval
Dan Slott has stated his intention to make Mighty Avengers “the most Avengery Avengers book you can get,” and sadly he’s followed through on the threat. I was as big a fan as anyone of the highlights of the “old” Avengers book, but all too often the book fell back on backwards-looking globetrotting featuring The Team We Could Get.

This book has a whole lot of that, with generic international battles chock full of the same cringe-inducing pseudoscience Slott unleashed on his last Amazing Spider-Man arc. Of course Pym particles can be used for teleportation, but if you cut off the main door from the Pym Pocket to Earth then the ‘doors’ will slowly fade and in a couple days they’ll be “stranded outside of all time and space!” And then the fart machine will have too many farts in it! I’m not saying everything has to have a Warren Ellis style infodump from an issue of New Scientist, but there’s only so many hokey plot points that you can gloss over before they start to detract from the story. As an added bonus, Slott casually makes Norman Osborn’s Cabal look like a bunch of chumps. Way to share the sandbox, kid! Remarkably AWFUL.

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