Comics Reviews (11/19/14)
You know the drill. Worst to best, but everything something I paid money for.
This isn’t really working for me. It feels like the sort of default setting of Grant Morrison – like it’s the statistical average of his other work. The sci-fi sections feel like Morrison doing self-parody, which, to be fair, they might well deliberately be, but with the real-world sections feeling a bit flat, this is just feeling like a mess to me.
Four to go, yes?
The Amazing Spider-Man #10
Here the basic operational problem of the Spider-Verse crossover becomes clear, which is that your storytelling gets really muddy when essentially every character is in the same costume. I also find my basic not-much-liking Superior Spider-Man to be a problem here, and the sequence that amounts to “here’s where all the other books spin off from this” is painful. Hoping this finds its keel quickly, as I loved the start.
Guardians of the Galaxy #21
All the typical problems of the first issue of a Bendis arc, namely that the entire issue is spent slowly walking up to the stated premise of the arc. The last splash is brilliant, though.
New Avengers #26
Love the Doctor Doom stuff, but found Tony kind of fruitless here. His ranting arrogance at the end is nice, I suppose, if you get off on “Tony Stark is an arrogant, selfish bastard,” but I don’t. I like “Tony Stark is flawed but self-evidently one of the good guys,” and find the entire amoral Tony thing to just not be my cup of tea. If you like it, you’ll probably like this.
Loki: Agent of Axis #8
Much as I don’t like Axis, I have to admit that inverting Loki is an absolutely genius premise, and Ewing does some lovely work in changing the underlying tone of the book. The mock heroic stuff is great, and Verity really jumps out as a character here. Good stuff, though I admit, knowing that this two-parter is going to be followed by a Kid Loki story makes me ever so slightly restless about it.
I adore Cyclops here. I can’t wait for X-Men to catch up to this status quo. I love who the Avengers are here – it’s such a deliciously weird team. And it ends with an army of Shang-Chis. This is basically what comics exist for, no?
This Purple Man story was probably an issue too long on the whole, but the end here, and especially the comic equivalent to a post-credit scene is absolutely brilliant. In general, on this book, I’m a bit torn between feeling like Waid is kinda played out on Daredevil and the sad knowledge that whoever follows him is just going to Frank Miller all over the rug.
Uncanny X-Men #28
Bendis has a good premise here, and the good sense to keep the focus on it. The decision to properly have Cyclops get off the mat and start being awesome is a good one – you can see from here to Avengers #38 here, and it’s a lovely line of sight. I really hoped, following Gillen’s X-Men run, that someone would have the guts to do a Cyclops Is Right comic. Here it is, and I’m all for it.
Moon Knight #9
When I saw this in my pulls, I thought “man, why didn’t I make that one of the titles I dropped?” So glad I didn’t, because this really, really impressed me. The twist that unfurls here is just masterful – what looks like a very generic and predictable sort of comic in one absolutely brilliant idea becomes another one entirely. This is better than any of Ellis’s issues. Absolutely brilliant, and it would be my pick of the week most weeks. Except…
The Multiversity: Pax Americana
Every once in a while, a highly anticipated comic steps up. We’ve known Pax Americana was coming for years. Morrison’s response to Watchmen. A comic with an impossibly high bar to clear, and one that’s only gotten higher as Moore and Morrison’s sniping at each other became more and more active. And yet here we are, and it’s… a reasonable comic. A skillful emulation of Watchmen‘s storytelling techniques, with enough sly jokes to keep it impish, enough clever ideas to keep it honest, and, perhaps most importantly, an honest enough assessment of what Watchmen had to say. Morrison pushes it to mild self parody without actually going so far as to suggest that Watchmen wasn’t good. And then it suggests that all of this is, for better or for worse, a bit limited and, dare I say it, hermetic. Which has always been a fair critique of Watchmen.
On top of that, it’s just very good. It’s well-done. Quitely’s art is superb, the eight/sixteen panel grid suiting him well. Morrison’s writing is sharp. It’s dense and chewy and a damn fine comic.
November 19, 2014 @ 3:01 pm
"Moore pushes it to mild self parody without actually going so far as to suggest that Watchmen wasn't good."?
November 19, 2014 @ 3:03 pm
Like Rorschach and Night Owl, you're too late – I already pushed the button to fix it.
November 19, 2014 @ 6:28 pm
And then it suggests that all of this is, for better or for worse, a bit limited and, dare I say it, hermetic. Which has always been a fair critique of Watchmen.
Oooh. YES. I mean, I love Watchmen and all, but was always more interested in what V for Vendetta had to say, and this, if you mean what I think you mean, is pretty much why.
And then you mention that Quitely's drawing it, so I'm just all in.
November 19, 2014 @ 7:07 pm
I'm more of a From Hell guy myself.
November 20, 2014 @ 12:30 am
Hi Dr S – looking at your "recent comments" list, it looks like the Eruditorum may be being heavily spammed…
November 20, 2014 @ 1:17 am
Holy synchronicity! Inspired by the recent dialogue in the comments about tarot etc. I've been meditating on the Magician card. Particularly the infinity symbol, the sideways figure eight that floats above the magician's head on the Rider Waite card. Then along comes Morrison the Chaos magician with Pax Americana with its recurrence of the figure eight, the eight panel grid, the 8 algorithm, the question mark and the hunchback. (is this a quote from somewhere or did Morrison make it up?) So far I've only read it once but there seem to be enough resonances and references there to keep an infinite number of annotaters annotating to infinity and what perfect timing from the point of view of this blog for Morrison to finally directly respond to Watchmen. Frank Quietely's art is perfect recalling both Watchmen and his and Morrison's own Flex Mentallo.
I've been lukewarm about Multiversity until now. This book alone is worth the whole series.
November 20, 2014 @ 1:22 am
I think Watchmen anticipates (and kind of agrees with) the criticism – I feel invited to delight in its magnificent airtight intricacy, but at the same time the character in the book who is a hyper-intelligent symbol-manipulator and master-planner is also very much a dick. As a rock critic put it to me in a pub once – paraphrasing a much longer conversation – "The problem with Watchmen is that it's a comic Ozymandias would like". Which I don't think IS a problem as I've phrased it, I don't think you should read the comic and think Moore wants you to accept the intricacy uncritically as a good thing in itself, but at the same time he possibly likes doing it a bit too much. It's one of those elements in Watchmen – like Rorschach's badassery – where Moore loses control of his own seductiveness a bit.
November 20, 2014 @ 5:16 am
It's a reference. http://hermetic.com/crowley/libers/lib148.html
November 20, 2014 @ 5:21 am
I thought I'd seen it before. Thanks.
November 20, 2014 @ 7:52 am
It's been a rough few years for Iron Man fans.
November 21, 2014 @ 4:27 am
Is Moon Knight good enough that it justifies reading despite how much of a creep Brian Wood is?
March 21, 2015 @ 2:17 am
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