Comics Reviews (March 18th, 2015)


Comics reviews are a weekly feature provided because my Patreon provides over $200 for every week of blog content

From worst to best of what I bought, which wasn't much this week.

All-New X-Men #39 and Guardians Team-Up #3

Two parts of the largely unwanted Black Vortex crossover this week, and it plods along with the relentless lack of speed that characterizes multi-title crossovers. We've at least made it to the point where different books follow different characters, which is something. Curious to see how this works when it buggers off to some distinctly more minor titles come April, losing its anchoring in Guardians of the Galaxy and All-New X-Men. But it's a fairly intellectual curiosity - this is not particularly interesting, and I'm glad the X-books are now freed up to go work towards the end of Bendis's run.

Batgirl Endgame

A wordless one-shot that ties Batgirl into some Batman event I don't entirely understand, but that appears to involve some sort of Joker toxin virus. It's a slender thing, but worth highlighting this week in particular for an illustration of why spiking that Joker variant cover for Batgirl #41 mattered by demonstrating the virtues of letting Barbara Gordon be resolutely undefined by The Killing Joke, which remains the worst thing Alan Moore has ever written.

Loki: Agent of Asgard #12

One of those issues that sets up interesting things more than it does them - for someone with a better knack for remembering plot lines from recent comics, I suspect the rush of references here is very satisfying and fits together brilliantly. For me, who can't handle a comic without a recap page, it's less engaging, although I'm still really interested in where Ewing is going with Loki in the general case.

Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #6

Ultimately, this just repeats the revelation from last month, although now with new details of exactly how it is that Nextwave is being considered in-continuity, where it had previously apparently not been. (That's news to me, but.) Although the best line is clearly "The Beyonder? Oh god, I should have never taught that guy to poop." Because remember, kids, while there's apparently doubt that Nextwave: Agents of HATE, one of the greatest superhero series of the past decade, is in continuity, there's no doubt at all that Secret Wars II is. Ah, Marvel. I bet next issue will have LOTS MORE PUNCHING.

Batgirl #40

Batgirl defeats the angst-ridden version of herself defined by her disability and victimization so that Gotham City can rock the fuck out. God, I love this New Pop aesthetic of comics.

The Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl #3

I laughed multiple times over the course of this issue, which is really all you can ask for from a comic called The Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl. Much like Batgirl, this is firmly in the New Pop style (see also Spider-Gwen, The Wicked and the Divine, and Sex Criminals), which is worth defining more rigorously, as it's by miles the most exciting thing going on in comics right now. (Closely related to what Bleeding Cool slyly calls the "light and brighty" aesthetic.) Emphatic demonstrations that intelligent, carefully constructed comics do not have to be dark and brooding masterpieces. And next month, punching Galactus. Punching is important to comics.


unnoun 5 years, 10 months ago

The New Pop aesthetic is the absolute best thing.

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xec tilus 5 years, 10 months ago

So what are some examples of the New Pop aesthetic outside of comics?

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Alan 5 years, 10 months ago

The one bright spot of the Black Vortex storyline is that it proves, if there was anyone still delusional enough to doubt it, that adult-Beast is the greatest hypocrite in the history of the Marvel Universe. Because he's spent the past several years ragging on Cyclops for unwillingly becoming host to the Phoenix Force and killing Xavier. But when he comes across his own opportunity for godlike cosmic powers, he cannot wait thirty seconds before seizing those powers and then plotting to remake the universe in his twisted douchey image.

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The Lord of Ábrocen Landmearca 5 years, 10 months ago

This comment has been removed by the author.

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The Lord of Ábrocen Landmearca 5 years, 10 months ago

I don't suppose there was a way to remove the "defined by disability" trait without, y'know, also erasing one of the few disabled characters in comics?

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Tom 5 years, 10 months ago

You might like - if you haven't seen it already - this thing I wrote a year or so ago at the end of Young Avengers: it wasn't trying to nail down a specific aesthetic wave (at the time, pre-Ms Marvel, it wasn't obvious there was one) more looking at how and why Tumblr was working as a centre for the new comics audience and why it would be particularly attracted to comics like Young Avengers.

The success of Ms M - especially digitally - seems like the obvious starting point for this as a movement. But Young Avengers is a big foundation piece, and so is the tone of voice of a lot of webcomics, which then carried over into Ryan North's Adventure Time comics which are a massive link here. (The New Pop in comics is very influenced by the New Pop in cartoons - which in turn draws a TON of talent from indies and webcomics.)

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Tom 5 years, 10 months ago

New Pop as a name has an interesting heritage outside comics - in Britain "the New Pop" was coined as a way of describing what happened when a bunch of punk and post-punk musicians - Adam Ant, ABC, Soft Cell, the Human League, Frankie Goes To Hollywood - decided that it was time to get into the Top 40 and appear on Top of The Pops. I know Phil's a big fan of post-punk music, so the name may well not be coincidental!

Whether it is or isn't, it's an interesting parallel for me. The idea seems to be "let's write as if there is a new mainstream audience" - because, after all, the digital success of Ms. Marvel suggest there is one - treating the relatively cloistered, shut-in direct market era as a blip rather than as an iron law.

(In specifically Marvel terms, the interesting compare-and-contrast is Tsunami, Marvel's 2003 attempt to come to some kind of terms with the manga boom - which was attracting a much younger and more diverse audience - and make comics Naruto and Fruits Basket readers would like. It was an ENORMOUS flop.)

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encyclops 5 years, 10 months ago

UUUUUUUN-BREAKABLE. They alive, dammit!

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John Seavey 5 years, 10 months ago

I feel the unbelievably pedantic need to point out that technically, Spider-Man taught the Beyonder how to pee, not how to poop.

Also, every time I think about that scene, I wonder briefly why the Beyonder needed to be taught to pee, rather than how not to pee. Then I think about that alternative and immediately count my blessings.

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