Comic Reviews (June 10th, 2015)
Hello all; as of this week, my comics reviews are being crossposted to ComicMix, so I suppose I should tack a paragraph introducing myself onto the start. I’m Phil Sandifer, a blogger covering various forms of pop culture and media with my own idiosyncratic long-form analysis. I’m responsible for TARDIS Eruditorum, my now-concluded history of Doctor Who, and the still-ongoing The Last War in Albion, a sprawling history of the most important magical war of the last century, the rivalry between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison.
Everything reviewed is something I willingly paid my own money for, whether wisely or foolishly, organized from my least favorite to my favorite of the week.
Snagged because it seemed to be taking the Secret Wars premise to an interesting extreme. But while this seems a functional mash-up of Frazetta-esque pulp action and superheroes, nothing in the first issue seems to rise above the basic “nobody’s done a big Frazetta homage lately” appeal, and the whole thing ends up leaving me a bit cold. I’m sure this scratches someone’s itch, but it doesn’t scratch any itches of mine, or at least, doesn’t provide $3.99 worth of scratch.
Gotham Academy #7
Two months away from this book have, as I feared they might, not really added much to its luster for me. I still like the aesthetic a lot conceptually, but nothing has forged any attachment to the actual characters for me. It’s something I find myself hoping other people are enjoying a lot, because it’s a book I want to exist in the world, but not something whose magic is quite firing for me.
Silver Surfer #12
This feels like a book out of another era; one where Secret Wars #5 was still coming out in July, for instance, at least based on the ads. This isn’t a book that has ever been inclined towards the subtle exploration of a premise, and indeed the content of this one is telegraphed ages in advance. The big moment, the Surfer and Dawn snogging, is compelling in its own right, but one of those things where Secret Wars kind of cannibalizes its impact; one assumes the Slott/Allred Surfer is not going to be surviving into All-New All-Different Marvel, which means that Dawn Greenwood is probably a fascinating implication about to be thrown aside in a quasi-reboot. Which leaves this feeling very disposable.
The alternate universe nature of this book is tough; it’s never as strong when it’s fleshing out the AU. The appeal is Gwen Stacy as Spider-Woman, and the book falters when it’s outside of her head. Which it is for a lot of this issue. I should love the sort of WicDiv “superpowered pop star punchdown” feel of this, and I do, but there’s too much of familiar Marvel for it to stand on its own feet and too much difference from the usual concepts of “Matt Murdock” and “Felicia Hardy” for their associations to quite carry it through, which is leaving the central appeal of this book lacking for me.
I admit to some severe disappointment with this. I’d very much hoped that Morrison’s engagement with the vibrant and increasingly culturally influential nihilist philosophies of people like Thomas Ligotti would push him to new things. Instead we just sort of have Final Crisis and The Filth mashed up and played back at the wrong speed.
Ultimate End #2
As a part of Secret Wars, this is developing an interesting enough mystery about Manhattan and what happened to the 616 and Ultimate universes. As a comic designed to serve as a satisfying end to the fifteen year project that was the Ultimate Universe, the fact that there are so many 616 characters running around feels to me like it’s getting in the way. The scene of 616-Spidey visiting Ultimate Aunt May and Gwen Stacy, in particular, felt like bizarrely squandered potential.
I admit, there are aspects of this book’s… extremity that I do not entirely grasp the point of. Autofelatio cave monster is a prime example. This all moved along nicely, and I think there were some good plot beats, but I have to admit, this issue did nothing for my concern that the book has vanished up its own ass.
1602: Witch Hunter Angela #1
I appreciate the degree to which this is following up from the Angela; Asgard’s Assassin series in terms of plot, feeling like it’s nicely setting up an actual arc that’s going to continue before and after Secret Wars. And Angela killing King James (who is secretly Wolverine) is basically pure brilliance.
Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #9
I have little doubt my affection for these Last Days stories is going to drop precipitously as they all end up hitting the same basic conceptual beats, but I’m glad Ewing got the first crack at a finale in this vein, because he doesn’t bother holding anything back, instead just banging the “heroes fighting to the end because that’s what heroes do” drum as unambiguously and as optimistically as it can be banged.
Warren Ellis weirdness. It features Ellis’s occasionally irksome tick of just throwing in a massive multi-page fight scene that establishes little beyond “this dude is an an ultra badass,” but while these scenes are less interesting than most of what Ellis does, Ellis still does them better than almost anyone else. And the remainder of this book is good fun.
Crossed +100 #5
This was just fantastic. I love the man for whom the Crossed outbreak was just business as normal, especially done as a sort of Rorschach parody. I love the invocation of the original title of The Stars My Destination. One more issue of this, and the sense of dread and terror is fantastic. Sci-fi zombies with all the zombie horror in the background. It’s brilliant; so wonderful to have Moore writing two titles right now, even if it’s only going to be true for another month.
June 10, 2015 @ 9:37 pm
"…while these scenes are less interesting than most of what Ellis does, Ellis still does them better than almost anyone else."
"Instead we just sort of have Final Crisis and The Filth mashed up and played back at the wrong speed."
You say that like that could be in any way a bad thing — like such a mash-up wouldn't be a monstrous, glorious achievement in and of itself.
In any case, I've read a lot of Morrison — like yourself, probably — and there are things in NAMELESS that do feel to me like new ground for him. Moreover, there are two more issues of this thing to drop — forty percent of the story, notionally — in which Morrison has to wrap this thing up. To do that, he can either just end the world in alien hell or else he'll (probably) have to find something new to do.
June 22, 2015 @ 6:59 am
"Angela killing King James (who is secretly Wolverine) is basically pure brilliance."
I don't know why, but that fell rather flat to me. Maybe because I've been reading all the 1602s without the slightest suggestion Jamie Saxth was Wolverine, or exhibiting any remotely Wolverine-like traits. And honestly, I think he was more interesting as just being King James, paranoid twit and fop. I did like the joke about him being succeeded by a very different Charles I, though. The rest of the book was great.
July 21, 2015 @ 12:56 am
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