Just a quick note, I’m amending, or perhaps more accurately creating a comments policy for the site. It’s pretty simple: comments in support of Theodore Beale, the Rabid Puppies movement, and/or Gamergate can and likely will be deleted as soon as I notice them.
Meanwhile, comics. From worst to blah blah blah blah.
Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man #12
A perfectly nice wrap-up to the book’s storyline that makes a virtue of its slightly hurried pace, in particular with a beautiful “put a huge fight scene off-page” move. Really, nice stuff. Great issue. However, and I have to say, Bendis’s books are seemingly much more prone to this than others, the Secret Wars branding here is complete bullshit. The issue has nothing to do with Secret Wars until the final two pages, a double splash in which the 616 incursion happens. With literal red skies, because everyone knows they’re just fucking with us here, but screw that. This is a $3.99 book that was advertised as a major part of the countdown to Secret Wars, and it’s not. It’s just not. It is totally inessential to Secret Wars, and worse, would be borderline completely fucking impenetrable to someone jumping in because they saw the branding. This is flat out abusive of the audience. Publishing this comic, with this advertising, was wrong.
Captain Marvel #14 (The Black Vortex Chapter Eleven)
A book I dropped ties in to a crossover I’ve been loathing, and the result is… astonishing in its not badness. Deconnick is, as ever not what you’d call a technician of the form – her comics are straightforward and long on genre tropes, and Lopez is not an artist that pushes her to anything new. This is not, to be clear, a criticism so much as a declaration of personal taste. But here, in the context of the Black Vortex, there’s a satisfying efficiency. The relationship between this and the overall crossover plot is clear. It’s a functional done-in-one that works, fleshes out Captain Marvel’s character well, and shows how to do what’s basically an issue-long fight scene well. Not the sort of comic I can straight-facedly call worth $3.99 on its own merits, or at least, worth $3.99 of my money, but a genuinely pleasant surprise.
The extensive “fucked the hell up” that was always part of the premise of this book comes into aggressive focus here. But what I have to admit that I’m more interested in is a chapter entitled “Into the Burrows” that suggests the structure of these Borroughs is “terraced” and speaks of “Alien architecture made by giants for a never-ending war” I didn’t know you were a fan, Grant. You’re gonna love the Bojeffries Saga chapter.
Vaughn and Staples tackle the venerable comic tradition of the drug trip issue, and, pretty much as you’d expect, do it well. The plot, as such, does not advance here – it’s firmly a character piece. But that also gives it a tight, accessible focus of the sort that the book has at times been lacking for me of late. Well done.
Convergence: The Question #1
God, I missed Rucka’s DC work. Really, really hope they’ll find something for him after Convergence, because he remains the best writer of DC’s street characters of the past twenty years. The Montoya/Two-Face relationship remains as scintillating as ever. And Cully Hamner remains a fantastic artist for him. A delight of a book.
Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #5
Lovely formal trick here as the story-within-a-story device that’s driven the book to this point is used for a present-day moment, with the big fight scene simply being framed differently within the narrative. Plus, Kieron Gillen writes some fantastic Guardians dialogue, and while it’s probably not a book you’d want him on long-term, he’s clearly having a blast. A proper hoot, doubly so because it’s got Phil Jimenez, still one of the best artists working – frankly, it’s a delight to have someone of his caliber on a kind of minor book like this.
Darth Vader #4
I understand why Gillen couldn’t actually introduce Aphra in the first issue, but now that he has, his book finally snaps into glorious focus. The Aphra/Vader double act works, for so many reasons. She’s capable of getting lines that border on actual comedy out of Vader (“I expect nothing but compliance. And silence.”), while his presence makes for fantastic moments where her mask drops. Suddenly this goes from a book with a main character who self-evidently can’t hold down a book to a book that crackles. It’s sick and bleak and wickedly funny, and has, in the last two issues, gone from a book I was dubious of to one of my favorite things on the rack.