Comics Reviews (September 4th, 2014)


As always, and by always I mean just like the last two weeks, from worst to best.

Original Sin #8

Well. That didn't work. Which is odd, because so much of it felt so close to working. The "a secret is revealed" trick to tie into the crossovers was great on paper, but then got squandered when both Avengers and Uncanny X-Men just did their own plots without actually using the "truth bomb," but branded them as Original Sin crossovers anyway. The plot wasn't uninteresting, but it was continually below the level of what it felt like a big crossover should be. This was a small, personal story that affected, ultimately, one character who doesn't even hold down his own title, but was done as a giant mega-crossover event, which just wasn't the right frame for it. The art was quality, but almost consciously wrong for the slightly humorous story Aaron was telling. Nobody felt quite on the same page as anyone else. Pretty much a flop.

Miracleman #10

It's not a bad issue, to be sure. But even in the original, this was a filler issue between the huge birth issue and the start of Book Three, and while there exist issues of Miracleman good enough that $4.99 feels reasonable, the sixteen pages of actual story in this book aren't one of them.

Moon Knight #7

I won't lie, I've gone off Brian Wood a bit since the sexual harassment allegations came up a while ago. It'd been coming, with my getting bored with his X-Men, Conan, and Star Wars runs in fairly rapid succession, but there's no point in pretending that the slight cringe whenever I hear his name isn't the biggest problem. So I went into this kind of expecting it to be the issue where I dropped Moon Knight.

Much stays the same - stylistic complexity, the one-issue story, et cetera. And, appropriately, much changes, as it should, since just doing a Warren Ellis imitation would be doomed. The problem is that the changes consist of taking things Ellis did that were interesting and replacing them with the boring. A tease in the final panel gesturing towards an arc. The way in which the high concept premise of the issue isn't explored and plumbed, but is just the backdrop for some action sequences. All the stylistic innovations and structures that powered Ellis's book feel like they're receding, replaced by the ill-conceived Batman clone that Ellis was always fighting the gravity of.

It's good enough to get another issue, which means it beat expectations, I suppose, but I'm still pessimistic.

Uncanny X-Men #25

It plays to Bendis's strengths in many ways. The interactions among X-Men, particularly from both sides of Ye Olde Schism, are great. The big retcon, Matthew Malloy, gets enough space to breathe that he feels like a functional and interesting character. The extra story pages are used well, in equal measures to allow for more plot and to give the plot to breathe. It's still a Bendis comic, with that strange anticipatory tone whereby everything that's happening now is overshadowed by some promised future event that, whenever it arrives, will itself be overshadowed by the next big thing. His absolute refusal to put event and consequence in the same issue is still strange. But it plays into comics as a pop medium very well. Bendis's comics are inevitably about the week they come out, and moreso than anyone else working, to the point where, in spite of my occasional frustrations, I almost always start with his issues in my pile. This one put me in a good mood for a pile of comics that contains none of the five books I'm most excited about (whatever those five might actually be). Which is to say, I liked this quite a bit.

Rocket Racoon #3

I was cheeky about #2, so let's take a moment and note the structural challenge of going from "iconic side character from the new movie with a writer/artist known for his visually distinctive, manic style" to "an actual ongoing book that can function and tell stories." This manages it well, keeping the sort of absurd energy that a Skottie Young book has to have, while still telling a story with good characterization. Getting silliness to feel textured and nuanced is a big lift, and he's doing a great job with it. This is a real treat of a book.

She-Hulk #8

Well this is marvelous. Between a great take on Captain America, some lovely character bits all around, and a great (if obvious) cliffhanger, this is just a delightful, fun comic. I was wary of this book a few months ago after a kind of brutally lousy arc, but this is back to what seduced me in the first place: superhero legal comedy. A real, proper treat.

Uber #17

Uber continues to find interesting angles to take on its premise. This is a less horrifically upsetting issue than some, which almost feels like a disappointment given how good Uber can be at just making you want to die. But instead Gillen plays with the conventions and iconography of war comics, and particularly of British war comics, which ends up being worthwhile and interesting. Combined with a fantastic final page reveal and cliffhanger into what Gillen teases as a big issue in both the backmatter and on Tumblr, and you have a book that's still one of the most interesting and challenging things out there. As always, much recommended. Go have a look at a trade.


Eric Gimlin 6 years, 4 months ago

Hmm, haven't gotten to the store yet this week, but I want to say something to make sure you know people are reading and enjoying this feature, even if they don't have much to say.

Is it just me, or is Original Sin one of the least-discussed major crossovers in memory? There seems to be a real, collective, "who cares" about the whole thing- or there would be if anybody cared enough to even go "who cares". It doesn't help that several crossover stories don't seem to be over yet, either. So for me it mostly will be remembered as the story where my store had trouble remembering to pull the Loki crossover series for me. They got issues 1 and 2 but missed 3 or 4. My mistake was clearly telling them that yes, I did actually want the series- they weren't sure to start, so pulled them in case.

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Elizabeth Sandifer 6 years, 4 months ago

It is odd, isn't it? I find myself wondering if the crossover is reaching something of a breaking point. It feels not entirely unlike what it felt like a few years ago, when late-shipping books became the norm and the line was "well if shipping late hurt sales it would be something we cared about." And then shipping late started to eviscerate sales.

One of these days, much like Inhumanity, a crossover is going to flop because the general readership is finally going to say "no, look, it's OK to have a mandatory book that anyone reading any Marvel book has to buy, but it actually has to be a good book if you do that."

I'll talk more about this in October with Axis, a book I am actively uninterested in and don't want to buy nine issues of, but which is apparently affecting so much shit that I have to if I'm going to read Avengers and Bendis's X-Men.

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Anton B 6 years, 4 months ago

This from the person who not only just watched every episode of a fifty year old sci fi franchise of variable quality but also managed redemptive close readings of the worst of it. You can do it!
Seriously, corporate capitalism long ago perfected the exploitation of the geek/nerd culture's anal retentive propensity for collecting and completism. This is why my shelves are groaning with useless swag.

But I have good news! I think there's a solution. My twelve step program starts here. Let's take it one day at a time.
Repeat after me it's not Pokemon. You don't gotta catch em all!

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