Posted by: Brian Hibbs on March 16, 2012
Tags: "The Atlantis Problem", Art Adams, Avengers Assemble, Brian, Brian K. Vaughan, Brian Michael Bendis, Crossed Badlands, Digital Comics, Fantastic four, Fiona Staples, Garth Ennis, Jason Aaron, Javier Pulido, Luther, Mark Waid, Moonshadow, Nick Bradshaw, Saga, Saucer Country, Secret History of DB Cooper, Thankfully without the hippies, The Shade, Wolverine and the X-Men
Two weeks in a row, yeah, baybee.
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #1: Yeowch, that was rather poor. Part of it is just how inconsequential the story felt (and part of that is having the stupid “Zodiac” characters as the antagonists… ugh, have they EVER been interesting?), part of it was the need for “Marvel Continuity” to now reflect “movie continuity” (despite the fact that this kind of material DOESN’T BRING IN A MEASURABLE NUMBER OF NEW READERS from the films to comics), so we’ve got “Dumb Hulk” running around here (And I think Bendis totally doesn’t “get” his voice, sorry), despite that not being the Status Quo in the Marvel universe, or in any currently published “Hulk” comic, oops. I guess this entire comic is a spoiler? Weightless, flabby, and, of course, $4 for the privilege. Ew, this is absolutely EH work.
CROSSED BADLANDS #1: Gahd, what a horrible title. Well, at least Garth’s back on the book he created, but I seriously think that this comic isn’t sustainable 24 times a year, and that by June we’ll be selling under half of what we might sell of this first issue. Anyway, it’s Crossed, and it’s Ennis, and so it’s filled with all kind of depraved stuff you can just hear that naughty little boy giggling over, and while I like it, I don’t really love it, and it’s effectively an anthology series now, so we’ll see what happens going forward, but for now: I like it, but don’t love it. OK
FANTASTIC FOUR #604: I strongly liked this issue, even with it’s fairly heavy Deux Ex Machina (even if that’s an established plot point) — I like it’s message of Hope and family, even if I’m not exactly sure why the plan worked, or even how it got came up with or anything like that. Still: GOOD.
LUTHER: Hey, not at all a print comic, but Mark Waid’s free “proof of concept” for his vision of Digital comics, where you advance through it with the arrow keys. I liked the story quite a bit, but there’s something that’s not quite “comics” to me about the whole process.
Sometimes it is overt, like the panel where the shovel suddenly appears in frame, where I think “well, that’s just animation, just only two frames, isn’t it?”; sometimes it’s more covert like all of the times where Waid is actually controlling the reading experience by forcing when balloons or panels actually appear.
I think that comics are, in some ways, as much about time and space as anything else, but all of those elements really should remain in the hand of the reader — it’s my choice if I want to read all of the captions on the page first, or which elements of the illustration I choose to believe are the most significant and deserve my focus.
One last consideration is that this story is all of 33 panels long. Just over 3 pages, if it was a Watchmen-style 3×3 grid. (This is, of course, a stupid thing to say — if this same story was told on a print page, even if it was 3×3, the rhythm of it would be ENTIRELY different; this same story would, of necessity, be a different size and shape) And while it was a well told and reasonably engaging story, I can’t really see spending (let’s say) 99 cents for 33 panels of comics.
Having said that, I did very much like the story, and judging it entirely on the basis of the content, I’d call it GOOD. Sadly, it also has the tech issues, and those distracted me, rather than drawing me in, and that reduces my grade, ultimately, to an OK. Still, can’t beat the price, go give it a read.
SAGA #1: Now this, on the other hand, I loved. So much so that we’ve put a copy is (almost) every subscribers box and are offering it 100% money-back guarantee. “Star Wars meets Game of Thrones” is the easy log-line, but the more important thing is the characters are rich, the world intriguing, the dialogue crisp, and the art really swell. There’s kind of this weird “MOONSHADOW” vibe going on with the narration, but, thankfully, without the hippies. Either way, this is a wholly wonderful start to a series by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, and I thoroughly recommend this book as one to read. EXCELLENT.
SAUCER COUNTRY #1: Hrm. On the one hand, I find a lot compelling in here (especially the ghosts [?] of Pioneer 10), on the other hand I’m not sure that the lead thrust of the book is adequately established. It’s weird when the supporting characters make more of an impression than the protagonist. I’ll most certainly give this another issue (or two) to grab me, but this first one didn’t GRAB me all by itself. I want to give it a low GOOD, but I’m having a really hard time actually doing so… it’s more like an extremely high OK.
SECRET HISTORY OF DB COOPER #1: Here’s the thing: the charm of the title rally depends on you know WHO “DB Cooper” is, and based on a bunch of informal polling virtually none of my customers do (Or, perhaps, some do once you explicitly say it to them — “oh, yeah, I’ve heard of him”), which means that a huge chunk of the high concept is immediately swept away. The second problem is that this issue kind of just stops, and I could not, if you put a gun to my head and forced me to jump out of an airplane with $200k, tell you whatsoever what the premise of this book ACTUALLY is, other than the vague notion from the title. There just isn’t anything here to get me to come back for issue #2, I’m sorry, which is the only real goal of a first issue. So: I liked what I read, and I liked the surreal concepts I saw, but I don’t know why I would spend $4 for it exactly, or why I would want to come back for #2, unlike SAUCER COUNTRY which intrigued me JUST enough to say “Sure, give me another dose”. So, yeah, this is merely OK, despite my enjoying the ride as I sat on it. I’d just never stand in line for a second go, y’know?
SHADE #6: I hate this comic because the art from Javier Pulido is SO good, and yet I don’t give a single wet fart about any of the not-Shade characters, or what the superhero situation in Barcelona is, at all. It’s “The Atlantis Problem” for me (I care about Aquaman and Namor; I DON’T care about “Atlantis”. I care about Black Bolt and Medusa; I don’t give a fuck about “The Inhumans”. I very much love Wonder Woman; I’d rather like the street clean than read about Amazonian culture or what the Greco-Roman gods are doing in modern America. And so on). Y’know, I think that STARMAN worked because Jack was a fine “everyman” of a protagonist; and Shade was a TREMENDOUS foil/friend for him… but I think I only care about Shade in the context of Jack’s world, because every issue I sit down, eager to read, and I walk away feeling “Man, that was just OK”
WOLVERINE AND X-MEN #7: Have I said this already? If every Marvel comic was at least as good and dense and humorous as this, then maybe people would be happy to pay $4 for it. But because so many Marvel books just aren’t worth the four bones, nowhere enough people are buying this book in my store, and there’s this (wrong, so far, in this case) feeling like you can’t just read “one” X-book. Well, you can, and it should very much be this one — it’s action packed, it’s hilarious, it’s incredibly energetic. Jason Aaron is one of the very few writers in comics that I can think of that seems to be able to equally handle “dense, gritty narrative” and “light-hearted romp”. I love Nick Bradshaw’s art, too — it’s got this nice Art Adams-y thing going on without being derivative. This is probably my favorite superhero comic being published today, and I thought this issue was VERY GOOD.
That’s me, this week — what did YOU think?