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Hibbs catches up, sort of — 4/18’s books

Brian Hibbs

Happy 4/20!

OK, getting much closer to being “on time”, right there under the jump!

AVENGERS VS X-MEN #2: A jarring tonal shift comes this issue as Jason Aaron handles the scripting. It’s sort of on par with the change of George Perez to Ron Lim on Infinity Gauntlet, because the voices couldn’t be more different. I *liked* what Aaron’s got on the page here, but man that’s three issues in a row now with no consistency whatsoever between them, and the round robin of writers continues through the series (and art changes with #5, as well) I’m finding this jarring.

I’m also not following a specific plot point, and that’s how is Phoenix “coming” in outer space, but also already possessing Hope?

Again, this book isn’t for me, really, but I thought this issue was at least OK

BATMAN #8: This here is the first $3.99 issue, and I was a little concerned it would cause a jump off, but people seem to be enjoying the Owls storyline enough to keep supporting it. Again, we’ll see what happens when the first Bat-line crossover happens next month — it seems to me that most of the tie-ins are going to read very similarly, though: owls attack, fight owls. This arc has had a bunch of bizarre “power fluctuation”, though — you’ll remember how it opened with Bats kicking the ass of dozens of traditional bat villains, at once. THEN, a single Owl curbstomped Bats about as hard as he’s ever been hit. And NOW, Bruce is fighting off dozens of Owls at once, showing again how butch he is. I’d finding this awkward, at best.

The backup story was largely the epitome of “unneeded back up”, as it just showed and elongated a moment that we’d seen just minutes before. Boo!

I’m liking the book, overall, but there’s something a little off about this whole thing that I’m not figuring out yet. I still thought it was a very low GOOD.

PROPHET #24: Ugh, now THIS is comics! Man, I don’t even know what this bit has to do with anything in the first three issues (same character, wholly different scenario), but I also don’t care, because it’s such fun science fiction, AND we get some wonderful artwork from Farel Dalrymple. I think I’ve said this before, but this reminds me of nothing less than HEAVY METAL from the 1970s, amazingly inventive and lavishly illustrated science fiction that may or may not make a ton of sense, but who cares because the passion just drips off it. I think this is truly EXCELLENT work.

RESET #1: Peter Bagge returns with something new, and while his cartooning is as good as ever, I had two kind of overwhelming problems with this. First is that the setup is just too thin — we understand the protagonist is someone who is at least somewhat famous, who did some unspecified awful thing, but there are no details about any of that given here, and so it makes relating to the underlying science fiction premise (that there’s a machine that can allow you to relive your life, and make different decisions, but it has to always start from one specific point) just too difficult. We neither know where the protagonist came from, nor where he is trying to go, so taking any kind of suspense or anticipation is rendered virtually impossible.

My second problem is that I think that Bagge has grown into an increasingly “safe” cartoonist as the years have gone by — not from his underlying style, but from the range and direction of his work. There’s nothing “edgy” about his work any longer, it feels predictable and almost staid. Safe.

This work is OK, at best.

SHADOW #1: I was a little surprised how much I liked this. Well, maybe not, because it’s Garth — but there’s almost no Ennis-isms here (other than whatever is naturally baked into the character and supporting cast), just a great straight-forward, historically-appropriate period-piece version of the best of the character. If I had one “problem” its that Dynamite really could do itself a favor and instead of spending the coin to get four different unique comics stylists doing covers, they should spend at least that much attention on the interior art. Aaron Campbell is in no way a poor artist, but it’s hard to not suffer in comparison to Alex Ross, Chaykin, Jae Lee and John Cassaday. Despite that, I thought this was swell comics, indeed, and thought it was VERY GOOD.

SUPERGIRL #8: I’m only pointing this out because George Perez is suddenly drawing a pair of issues of this book, and I thought this was a very solid little comic that your eye might have wandered away from. Here’s a place to wander back for an issue or two — I thought this was GOOD.

WONDER WOMAN #8: I’ve said before, ad infinitum, I so don’t care for mythological supporting casts, and, so, overall while I’ve been liking this arc OK, it’s really not for me. I still largely feel that way about this issue, but I’d be a big ol’ meanie if I didn’t observe just how much I liked Cliff Chiang’s “redesign” of Hades and the afterlife — that’s some genuinely creepy and affecting stuff. GOOD.

That’s it for me for today, as always: what did YOU think?

-B

17 Responses to “ Hibbs catches up, sort of — 4/18’s books ”

  1. I’m not reading it so much as Hope being “possessed” by the Phoenix. Hope can draw power from the Phoenix, and the closer it gets the more power she can draw, but along with that the Phoenix also gains more influence over her.

  2. I was also mildly surprised how much I like The Shadow. It felt much more like Ennis’ Battlefields than say, Crossed. Though I like both of those Ennis styles, I’m happier with The Shadow as a book on the edge of war.

    As for AvX #2, I think I may be done with the main book. I saw what Aaron was aiming for (and liked it better than Bendis’ #1, damning with little praise) but I’m not sure it worked for me. I liked Avengers #25 better; despite some terrible opening pages, it really was saved by Simonson’s art.

    And I’ll look at Secret Avengers next week, b/c of Remender and b/c of the part of the story it tells. And that’s left me to wonder- in this age of the internet and comics news everywhere, can I just skip the main book and only read the side stories from creators I like???

    I’m certainly looking forward to trying it….

  3. Hibbs: Well, I think there are pretty decent reasons why Batman so handily wins or gets stomped in most of the fights we’ve seen in BATMAN so far. In #1, he was fighting his rogues gallery, but most of them didn’t have their usual home court advantage: their weapons, etc. Also Nightwing helped. In #6, he got the crap beaten out of him after spending several days weakening in a maze and getting drugged (really, what made no sense is why he rallied at the end, and there I have nothing for you). And in #8, Bruce isn’t winning against a bunch of Owls, just fending them off enough to get away from them whenever they attack.

    He does manage to clock the hell out of one, but there’s a cute and logical reason: it’s one of the older Owls, so his fighting style’s really antiquated.

    Got my own problems with the story, but how Bruce wins his fights isn’t really one of ‘em. And I’m still liking the tale enough to continue reading even with the price hike, too.

  4. “THEN, a single Owl curbstomped Bats about as hard as he’s ever been hit.”

    —um, he was drugged? you do read the words, right?

  5. “As soon as we get a messiah of our own, they want to swoop in and take her away.” – Cyclops in AvX #2.

    I outright laughed at this.

  6. That seems to imply there would be another messiah for non-mutants/X-men.

    Any idea who that could be? Aquarian perhaps?

  7. Someone whose powers consisted of raising the dead, walking on water and changing water into wine? Those sound like mutant powers.

  8. Remember when the X-Men believed that we’re all human? Now it seems to be a book about noble racial seperatists and supremacists defending themselves against the rest of the genetic driftwood.

  9. [...] Brian Hibbs, Savage Critics: “I was a little surprised how much I liked this. Well, maybe not, because it’s Garth — but there’s almost no Ennis-isms here (other than whatever is naturally baked into the character and supporting cast), just a great straight-forward, historically-appropriate period-piece version of the best of the character.” [...]

  10. @Zory

    I like your reading. Xavier’s moral authority to insist on unity was undermined (via Vulcan affair and others) and his influence has now largely been excised.

    (At least as of my last Marvel reading which I’ll readily admit has been some months ago and prior to Aaron’s team book.)

  11. As a very infrequent X-reader who keeps up partially through sites like this one, I like Zory’s reading, too. What it basically means is that Magneto won. For decades’ worth of comics, Magneto has preached separatism and violence, and he tried to persuade the X-Men with violence. Some years ago, he seemed to change, perhaps, and definitely joined the X-Men. It would be a hell of a story if it came out that he realizes that, while he nominally joined the X-Men, in practical reality, the X-Men have in many ways joined him.

  12. Spoilers ahoy — not that they haven’t already been discussed — but I’m not sure why the Court of Owls sent a whole mess of “talons” (too many to count) to take out Bruce Wayne. After all, they only seemed to discover his alter-ego after the fact.

  13. Bubba: even in this continuity, Bruce Wayne is apparently the founder and leader of Batman Inc. Figure that counts for something. I agree Snyder should’ve made that clear, though.

  14. I really don’t get how Bruce Wayne outting himself as the billionaire funding source behind Batman didn’t already effectively out himself as Batman altogether. I know Morrison did some issue where Bruce manages to cleverly prevent the universe from figuring that out by posting some shit on Twitter, buuuuuuut… still seemed kinda dumb.

  15. “Aaron Campbell is in no way a poor artist, but it’s hard to not suffer in comparison to Alex Ross, Chaykin, Jae Lee and John Cassaday”

    I don’t think the book would have looked nearly as good if any of those 4 had replaced Campbell. I find his work to be just dynamite at creating the right period feel for this book and the excellent Green Hornet: Year One.

    Mike

  16. I’ve found Court of Owls to be the same story as Black Mirror. Batman mentions a secret society that nobody has mentioned before but says everyone in Gotham whispers about, he interferes with them, barely escapes with his life, having found out nothing about them.

    Back to back it’s pretty much the same story, with the tension in the narrative stated, but not earned.

    Haven’t been too enthralled, honestly.

  17. Some odd moments in AvX #2:

    The San Andreas Fault shudders with each blow.

    But the fighting is up on the helicarrier.

    Indestructable [Indestructible] shield meets mutant skull.

    Microscopic telepathic tasers.

    ???!

    Except for the sizzle of fiery steps in seawater.

    Physical flame??!!

    Avengers talking in deep space.

    Where the storyline falls completely apart, though, is in the handling of the Phoenix Force. If it’s not psionic energy, what is it? And, given the vastness of interstellar space, traveling at lightspeed isn’t fast enough for it to go from system to system quickly enough for the storyline to happen. But, if it’s traveling faster than light, the Avengers can’t see it or react to it.

    The only approach that makes any sense is for the Phoenix Force to appear and disappear as it chooses and to hop from point to point, but then the confrontation with the Avengers never happens.

    There’s also the sentience of the Phoenix Force, but the impossibility of the confrontation ruins the story. That’s a major reason why I pay little attention to the artwork. Just because something is shown happening doesn’t mean that it can plausibly happen.

    SRS

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