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I have no title, and I must scream! Hibbs’ 5/22/13

Brian Hibbs

Thoughts on Twelve Angry Comics from this week, below that jump

 

AVENGERS #12: I’ve tried, really I have, but I find Hickman’s AVENGERS titles so bloodless and over-plotted that I just can’t get into them whatsoever.  Here we are at what would be the “one year mark” for a “normal” comic, at the five months-old mark (and people wonder why Marvel is driving sales now?), and I’m so very very cold to this one and it’s sibling title. Only “Spider-Ock teaching those kids how to be selfish” showed any real spark. I find this so very EH.

BOUNCE #1: I don’t understand what Joe Kelley is trying to do here? “Speedball, except with swearing and explicit drug use?” That’s not so very appealing, and then the first issue ends with an “alternate reality”, and I’m trying to figure out what I’m rooting for? Some of the wilder ideas (A superhuman who IS a drug, shadowy conspiracies run by lizard-eaters, etc.) probably work a lot better with the mainstream-like art by David Messina that some of Casey’s other co-creators.  I liked it fine, but I’m having a hard time deciphering the actual premise. Call it a very strong OK?

DAREDEVIL #26: this book is moving from strength to strength, and I think that the new enemy is one of the strongest ones that DD has ever faced… but, damn, I can’t for the life of my recall his name. Akemi? Ashema? Somewhere in that range. Too bad it wasn’t something like “Devildare” or something else easily remembered (Like, dunno, “Bullseye”, maybe?), as that would mark a perfect nemesis. Either way, this book is VERY GOOD.

FANTASTIC FOUR #8: There’s been something just a few degrees off from this renumbering, that I wish I could put my finger on — but it’s just dying in sales on our racks. Plummmmmet. Which is a damn shame, because this was as near as perfect of a single issue of a superhero comic book that I read this year. Ben Grimm on his one “day of being human”, visiting the past of Yancy Street even before his sainted Aunt Petunia, and its just a great great little Done-In-One. VERY GOOD.

FLASH #20: Excited, oddly, about a new “Reverse Flash”, but, like much of the Manapul/Buccellato era, it’s just not delivering it’s potential in my eyes. I really really want to believe, but the fairy is dying right in front of my very eyes. It tries so very very hard, and I desperately want to like it but like a poor marksman, it. keeps, missing. its. target. (KHAAAAAAAAAAANNNN!)

(Christ, I’m a nerd)

I honestly can’t generate more than an OK, though I *want* it to be a VG, y’know?

 

GREEN LANTERN #20: And so ends an era. Really, this deserves an essay of its own, but Geoff deserves some amazing props for turning what was a (lets face it) second string character into a genuine franchise. Some people deride the “rainbow corps” (and, yeah, it probably went a step too far), but at least there are really legitimate differences and motivations and backstories between the various Corps.

I am personally of the mind that Geoff’s run ran 3-4 years too long — I’m not convinced that anything after “Blackest Night” was really particularly good — but you GOT to give it up to Geoff for what he’s accomplished in the run, overall.  I think even moreso because MY expectation is that the franchise of GL is going to crater out without Geoff at the helm… largely I think that the audience was essentially tolerating much of the excess in the line due to perceiving it as a creative vision. We’ll see.

This last issue, sadly, wasn’t much special — the villain of this story has been uninteresting, and the final crossover dragged on way too long, with way too much handwaving and gnashing of teeth — so I’m not inclined to go over an OK, but I do want to make special mention of the “text pieces” scattered throughout the issue which (and this is really straight from Jeff Lester, I am sorry for stealing!) read like nothing more than signatures collected in a high school yearbook, with all of the empty insincere praise that entails — I’m shocked there’s not a “Have A Great Summer!” in there somewhere, honestly — the nadir probably being Diane Nelson’s. I’d be shocked if she could recite the rest of that.

Yeah: “Have A Great Summer!”

 

GREEN TEAM #1: Here’s the good news: We’re guaranteed to get more issues of this than from the first series (which had just two issues, after it’s debut in “1st Issue Special”, both cancelled before they shipped), as this will last AT LEAST until issue #8. It’s hard to think that it will get much more beyond that, however, since there wasn’t a ton of ACTUAL premise on display in this first one. I get that on paper it’s “rich kids buy superpowers”, but that only happens for ONE of the “team”, and that only on the last page. Has no one heard of “in media res“? Plus? I liked them better as, y’know, little kids. Well, copyright resecured, I guess.

I *love* this description of the cancelled first series: “In the first of the two unpublished adventures, the boys were pitted against giant lobsters and the Russian Navy. In what would have been the third issue, the Green Team face a villain called the Paperhanger who had special wallpaper that grew plants and trees, and who was a dead ringer for Adolf Hitler. They dispatch all menaces, then disappear into history in their private jet.” Oh oh, the wacky wacky 70s…

This was highly OK, but needed to be so so much better to escape the event horizon of the current DCU

 

HALF PAST DANGER #1: Nice try, but another example of “burying the lede” and starting the story long long before the story should actually be started — “WW2 adventurers FIGHT nazi dinosaurs!” is a great idea, but so much of this comic was walking through woods and sitting in bars and things that were not actually fighting nazis OR dinosaurs. Plus Stephen Mooney’s art is just too anatomically awkward in places.  There’s virtually no genre serialization that couldn’t learn a lot by studying the structure of, say, an episode of Star Trek, and applying that to EACH INDIVIDUAL issue of the comic. Yet another OK on display in this one.

 

OCCUPY COMICS #1: I think this might be a year too late to do any good, but I liked virtually every page of this polemic of a comic. You could also call this “time capsule comics”, because that’s likely how this will seem in a decade (sort of like how the 9/11 comics are today), but that doesn’t stop this from being a solid little anthology, and (I thought) VERY GOOD.
POWERS BUREAU #4: there are times that I think that Bendis has single-handedly done more harm to the very idea of creator-owned comics than another other guy in comics. As a working retailer, I am constrained to point out that this issue is nearly a full month late, and that’s after they utterly wasted having a few issues “banked” by shipping the first two bi-weekly and bragging how they were absolutely “guaranteed” to ship on time. And now we’re already selling fewer copies than we did of the prior series, *sad trombone noise*

And the shame of it is that the book is very readable again, after a pretty dire patch of thinking it was better than it was — I thought this issue was solidly GOOD.

 

UNCANNY X-MEN #6: Speaking of Bendis, he’s just killing it here. KILLING.

I don’t know why — maybe because the Claremont DNA makes “chatty” a good move for x-books? I don’t know, but this (and “All New”) are absolutely “good” Bendis, and I thought this issue, with art by the incomparable Frazer Irving, was VERY GOOD.

 

YOUNG AVENGERS #5: Really GOOD ending to the first arc, and they’re all given a plausible reason to be a team. It’s just too bad that “Avengers” comics are as common as STDs on a hooker these days, because the clutter on the shelf (there are FOUR “Avengers” comics just this WEEK) is leaving this one the poor-selling stepchild.

 

Right, then, that’s me — what did YOU think?

 

-B

15 Responses to “ I have no title, and I must scream! Hibbs’ 5/22/13 ”

  1. I think Ill try Fantastic Four #8 on your recommendation, sounds awesome. Unless, of course, marvel sells it at 3.99 and loses a sale.

    Other than that, when I hit my LCS tomorrow, all that’s waiting for me is Daredevil, which was spoiled on Tuesday.

  2. I’m always a bit puzzled by criticisms that Hickman’s work is too cold and like precision clockwork. That’s actually what I find highly appealing about it. I wouldn’t want everybody to write that way, but I’m glad he is. He’s far and away my favorite newer writer from say the past five or six years. Even so, I wasn’t interested in buying three issues a month when they announced his two Avengers series. That’s too much milking. I’ll pick up the overly delayed softcovers when Marvel gets around to publishing them a year from now.

  3. I don’t know what it is about Hickman’s AVENGERS – normally I run pretty cold on him, his FF and MANHATTAN PROJECTS and SECRET WARRIORS did nothing for me – but for some reason, this is working for me. There’s been some great character moments in the last couple of issues (Sam and Bobby in ish #11, Thor in this one) that just hit the sweet spot for me. Even his NEW AVENGERS isn’t as…warm, maybe?…as the core title. Like I say, I can’t put my finger on WHY it’s working so well for me, but it really is – based on past experience, however, I can see why it rings hollow for others.

    Bendis’ UNCANNY X-MEN is the best the book has been in, legitimately, years. And I’m still shocked at how much I loving it.

    THE BOUNCE…I don’t know. I liked the first issue enough that I’ll pick up the second, and it’s the best Joe Casey I’ve read since, oh, WILDCATS. But I dunno.

    DAREDEVIL is just win. Though I feel like I should have seen that coming.

    Thanks for the reviews, sir!

  4. “(Christ, I’m a nerd)”

    You still came up with a better Khan reference than an entire Star Trek movie made by professionals could do.

    Mike

  5. Hickman’s Avengers run is essentially the same as his Fantastic Four run, for me: it’s an impressive bit of storytelling, and while plot-heavy, it essentially does a really solid piece of character work as well. And yet in both cases, I’d much rather read it all in one go. Even Marvel’s accelerated schedule puts too much time between the pieces for me.

    Speaking of Fantastic Four, I haven’t been enjoying Fraction’s stuff at all (although I *have* really been enjoying FF. Go figure.). The current run’s premise is basically “Dr Who, Family Edition,” with the team traveling through time and space as these uber powerful beings, manipulating entire civilizations (see issue 4) as they go. And it’s fine enough on the micro level, but on the macro level, I’ve got the same problem as I often do with the regular Dr Who, that it comes off as “white tourist wanders around and solves natives’ problems with awesomeness.” Issue 8 sounds like it’s doing more personal with the Thing’s history, though, so I might give that a chance.

  6. One thing I will say RE: Hickman FF vs Hickman Avengers is that I think that the family nature of the FF inherently injects a certain amount of “humanity” along the way, whereas the Avengers are a para-military force in the best of times.

    -B

  7. The first 4 issues of Fantastic Four were so dull I dropped it– but since I have to pre-order, I’d ordered through #7, and 5 to 7 were much better. Maybe I’ll try #8, but I doubt I’ll return to the series.

    Meanwhile, FF is great, the exact thing I want. I’m kind of shocked it’s by the same writer. It must be the art which is swaying me to such a high degree.

  8. I can see the argument being made that Johns’ GL run went too long, but I enjoyed all the “White Lantern” business that followed BLACKEST NIGHT in BRIGHTEST DAY, and think it unfortunate that the New 52 derailed that direction so much.

    I’m glad he stuck around the for New 52 though, as the Hal/Sinsestro buddy cop team eventually had a nice pay-off (that is, in this issue), and I really liked Simon Baz and B’dg (I’d actually prefer them keep the main GREEN LANTERN title).

    Reading GL #20 though, and realizing Morrison’s just now wrapping up his Batman arc too, I was wondering what the world would be like if DC waited to do their reboot, say, in June of 2013, allowing those two years-long runs to reach their natural conclusions before starting everything over fresh.

  9. “Fantastic Four” and “FF” are doing solidly at my store, with more people interested in the latter, all an effect of its quirky set-up and the Allreds on art, and kudos to editorial for getting Joe Quinones to fill in — what a stylistic fit!

    The former is hurt by the reliable but subtly miscast Mark Bagley (hard to tell Susan and Valeria apart at times, meh page layouts), and the slightly muddy hues of Paul Mounts. The Fantastic Four is a weird mix of gravity and pop, and Bagley doesn’t have the range for it.

  10. I swear there’s two different Matt Fractions, and sometimes he decides to turn it on and he’s one of the best writers in the business, writing clever, off-beat, heartfelt comic magic(Casanova, Hawkeye, Immortal Iron Fist). And there’s other times he seems like he’s on autopilot, just turning in scripts that fill up space, part 3 in 8 part decompressed story, vanilla wallpaper(Invincible Iron Man, Mighty Thor, Uncanny X-Men). The quality on an issue-to-issue basis between the quirky awesomeness of FF and the bland cookie cutter Fantastic Four is crazy when you consider it’s the same writer. Haven’t picked up this latest Fantastic Four though, I’ll have to give that a shot. Fraction’s great at one-issue stories, when he has to work those economical storytelling skills he obviously has.

  11. I liked Fraction’s Iron Man; he DID tell long stories, but I thought he was doing that well; I know LaRocca’s art is a bit static for many readers–but I admired the two of them putting in a 60-issue run that I liked/loved throughout.

    I was pretty sure his X-Men was being hobbled by editorial/crossover interference and/or Greg Land, and yeah, it seemed like he was getting paid to write some comics, as opposed to Casanova and Hawkeye, where I believe I can feel his real emotional attachment to the work.

    Neither FF book has really moved me, as I’ve dipped in and out, but definitely the quirky Allred book is the more appealing of the two. (And Tim Finn is dead right about a miscast Bagley.)

    Sudden followup thought: Stage fright. It occurred to me that his X-Men felt like he was writing what he thought an X-Men book should be, not the X-Men book he should/could write; maybe it’s the same with the Fantastic Four: The A-list icons make him choke as he thinks about the past?

    But that argument depends on agreeing with me that FF/X-Men are A-list, and mediocre Fraction, and Iron Man is second-tier, good (not nec. great) Fraction. I dunno … was his Thor any good?

  12. @BrianMC: “…was his Thor any good?”

    No. No, it was not.

  13. lol “Have a great summer”

  14. Hickman’s AVENGERS shows that he’s scientifically illiterate. His SF-type stories don’t have any science. The basic idea for AVENGERS #12 was nice–heroes interacting with kids–but if his evolved humans don’t breathe, why do they have noses? Moving requires energy, so moving without using energy is impossible; the question isn’t “How do they move without using energy?” but “Where does their energy come from?” Hickman doesn’t seem to grasp the distinction.

    SRS

  15. “Hickman’s AVENGERS shows that he’s scientifically illiterate.”

    C’mon! He’s writing a super-hero book for an audience of kids that turns over every 5 years. What do you expect?

    Oh, wait.

    Mike

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