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In Which Graeme Attempts To Catch Up…

Graeme McMillan

It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these, so be prepared for a capsules review of a lot of books, many of which you may have forgotten reading already.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #592 – 594: Part of me is tempted to point to this arc and say “Hey, haters, here‘s a story that couldn’t be done with a married Peter, because there’s no way that Mary Jane would be cool with him only being Spider-Man for days on end just to piss off Jonah,” but that would be both pointless and raising old ghosts. As much as I love the idea behind this story, and as much as I love Mark Waid’s take on the characters, this is just Okay; I could’ve done without the “You see? He’s really mad at Norman” bit, and Mike McKone’s art has never done it for me. But it was nice to see the Peter I know and love back when giving his blessing to Aunt May’s latest fling.

(Appropos of nothing much, but does anyone still really hold a grudge about Brand New Day and the Spider-Man reboot? There’s a post to be written about how weirdly the new status quo seems to aim for – and reach – a constant level of late-70s fill-in quality, sure, but by this point, surely most people have come ’round to the fact that the reboot has brought back necessary things like “a supporting cast” and “some semblance of fun” to the character, after years of JMS. Or are those merely my biases showing?)

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #23 – 25: I don’t know if the spell got broken when the scheduling slipped for awhile or what, but I just don’t find this book even half as compelling as it once seemed, and haven’t done since the middle of the Fray arc. I’m sure that it’s still heading towards something, but the spark seems to be gone, and the current run of done-in-ones (even though they’re heading towards the common goal of flipping the dynamic so vampires are loved and slayers are feared, ooh, just like the X-Men) has left the book feeling more disjointed and cold than it should. I’m hoping that they get things back on track soon, but right now, this is a sad Eh.

DARK AVENGERS #1 – 4: Four issues in, and I’m throwing up my hands and wondering why this isn’t working for me. It’s not that it seems overly busy – although it does – or that I don’t care about any of the characters – although I don’t; it’s that I can’t help but feel that the creators don’t really care about this book that much. There’s something uneven and hollow about it, a feeling of it being entirely cynical and insincere that just keeps me from feeling involved with anything happening inside the covers at all. Awful, but perhaps it’s just me.

FINAL CRISIS AFTERMATH: DANCE #1: Joe Casey is, I’m beginning to think, my anti-matter duplicate; more often than not, I can appreciate his books more than actually enjoy them. This is just like Godland and The Intimates in that respect; I know that it’s smart and funny and contemporary (Even the use of Twitter, which I’m sure would piss me off in other books, feels like it works), but I can’t feel that it’s anything more than Okay, for some reason, and I really don’t know why.

FINAL CRISIS AFTERMATH: RUN! #1: Beginning DC’s new habit of naming books after songs produced by Danger Mouse – I’ll be writing Blackest Night Aftermath: Sofa King at the end of the year, I’m happy to announce – this book is, sadly, completely Eh. I don’t care about the Human Flame, and this is too busy trying to make a grumpy face to give me a reason to.

THE FLASH: REBIRTH #1 – 2: Wait, what? Barry is the who whatcha now? I can’t quite work out if the reveal at the end of the second issue is genius or insane, but I am enjoying the whole “Barry Allen is back, and that’s really not a good thing for anyone” thing this series has going on. It won’t last, of course, but I’m thinking it’s Good while it does.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #31 – 32: Sad but true: Dwayne McDuffie’s trying to write a really good book, in between the crossovers and the editorially-mandated character shuffles and art that’s almost never appropriate. The (temporary?) addition of Rags Morales in the latest issue coincides with the JLA becoming the Defenders of the DCU, and it… kind of works? A high Okay, but I just wish that Dwayne would get free rein and a good artist so we could see what he’s really capable of.

MIGHTY AVENGERS #21-24: I’ve heard a rumor that this title was nearly renamed Dan Slott Wants You To Know His Avengers Are Awesome, a title that would be more honest, if not quite as catchy. The problem with this revamp for this book is that, while the concept is ideal – “It’s the old-school Avengers book full of big ideas!” – the execution… isn’t. There’s lots of telling instead of showing, and none of the telling seems particularly convincing, especially the “Isn’t Hank Pym clever? No, really, he’s really smart” talk that began to feel really desperate somewhere around Slott’s second issue. There’s a lot of interesting ideas here, but none of them really come together, and the result is something that you end up thinking “Well, I can kind of see what he’s trying to do here…” more than actually digging what you’re reading. Eh, if you squint in the right way.

NEW AVENGERS #50-52: Whereas this is a really good Defenders book. Unlike Dark Avengers, Bendis’ affection for the characters comes through here easily, and if his storylines feel choppy and forced, the dialogue and character interaction feels true (In particular, Luke telling Doctor Strange that he has friends made the sap in me go “Awwww” inside). With Dark Reign seeming very hit and miss, this is one of the bright spots in the middle of all the enforced gloom.

PHONOGRAM: THE SINGLES CLUB #2: A nice idea, but the I’m not convinced by the way it all plays out, somehow. I can’t really put my finger on why, though; maybe it suffers from the weight of expectations coming (so long) after the amazing first issue? It feels unfinished in the same way that the first series did, where the theory and thinking behind it is there, but there’s not the emotional connection that you want. It’s still Good, mind you, and Jamie McKelvie’s art continues to improve; I selfishly want them to release a colored collection of the first series, now, I’ve become so convinced that his work needs color to truly sing.

WONDER WOMAN #29 – 31: Potentially the most puzzling superhero book around right now, Gail Simone’s current epic storyline seems stunningly misjudged. I’m not sure whether it’s the choice of villain, the lack of forward momentum in the plot or the overwhelming (and uncomfortable, unconvincing and self-conscious) grimness, but the whole “Rise Of The Olympian” arc has almost entirely killed my interest in the series. I don’t just mean that I don’t like it; I tend to forget whether I’ve read issues, and when I pick up new issues, I’ve entirely forgotten what happened last time (Not helped by the fact that it feels like we’ve had “Diana has to screw her courage to the sticking post and compromise her morals to try and defeat this mysterious, surprisingly dull villain” as a theme for the last few issues in a row). In a strange way, it kind of pisses me off; I liked Simone’s run up until this storyline, and almost resent the current arc for making me feel bored and disinterested in the book. Awful, as much as I hate to say it. Come back, interesting, suspenseful and fun book. I miss you.

But what, as Mr. Hibbs says, did you think?

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