Comics Reviews (August 12th, 2015)
Years of Future Past #4
Rough going. There’s some novel plot twists, but everyone is such a cardboard cutout here that I have trouble caring. An exemplar of the sort of comic I really need to stop spending $3.99 on.
Effective superheroics, with little more to be said. Art felt a bit uneven between two different inkers, and the plot is starting to lose me, though I’m not sure if that’s an A-Force problem or a Secret Wars problem. Either way, at best adequate.
Mercury Heat #2
Still not sparking; the underlying concepts are interesting, and get moments of good play, but I suspect this is one where I’ll like the second arc, once the cards are on the table, more than the process of laying them there. Luiza’s hatred for her own skillset is by far the most compelling aspect, but the book is being slow in establishing that in favor of a lot of worldbuilding, which isn’t bad, but isn’t quite amazing either.
Secret Wars #5
On the original release schedule, this sort of exposition slab of an issue, excluding almost all of the cast in favor of a tight focus on Doom and Valeria, would probably have been a bold and interesting more. Under the increasingly glacial pace of Secret Wars, I’m well past just checking my watch and wondering if it’s October yet, not least because the odds seem certain that the All-New All-Different Marvel relaunch will start before Secret Wars #8 ships.
Grant Morrison’s 18 Days #2
Morrison is now one of three writers, so we’re pretty clearly transitioning from stuff he actually did to stuff he at best has notes for. We’re also pretty clearly moving from where his overly elaborate work resetting the myth into a Jack Kirby knockoff is the focus to a retelling of a classic of world mythology. On the whole, then, an improvement.
Doctor Who: Four Doctors #1
An endearingly frothy summer event for Titan’s Doctor Who line. Cornell gets to business quickly and engineers a good cliffhanger, and the Keys of Marinus callback is a nice treat as well, but I’m less than convinced by his Tenth/Twelfth exchanges, which seem to capture neither Doctor particularly well. Still, fun. The “Clara is Slytherin” gag’s particularly nice. Edwards’s art is capable, though marred by occasionally excessive photoreference, which leads to a jarring difference between his everyday Tenth Doctor and the one who appears in a couple of close-ups.
Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #15
It feels like this comic has done a few climaxes more than is earned, but as the proper, final issue of Year One (and Ewing’s final bow on the title) it’s a good one that shows how well sketched this set of companions is. I don’t pretend to understand the Source anymore, but this was fun and moving, and really is one of the best runs of Doctor Who comics ever.
As is often the case with Stumptown, I suspect it will read better in trade, but this is a lovely and world-grounded PI yarn that hums along entertainingly before sparking with real charm at the end. I look forward to the inevitable double crosses and elaborate betrayals.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8
Very much what you’d expect from this comic, which is to say, hilarious brilliance. The bottom-of-page gags are such a small thing, but they really do add a sense of heft and size to the comic, and the sheer quantity of humor here really makes this a reliable treat. Glad it’s coming back in October.
Something between a final issue for the run of Uber that’s been going on so far and a #0 for the forthcoming second series, which features a major and intriguing change of focus. So far much of the book’s dark brilliance has come from its reworking of British war comics, but now there’s going to have to be a change in what sort of thing we talk about, and I’m interested in seeing how Gillen moves to a different comic tradition for the next arc. All very exciting stuff, in other words.
Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #1
Gillen’s got a bit of an imperial phase going across the last two weeks, bringing Uber to a major break, kicking out a highly acclaimed one-shot of WicDiv, and now starting the last run of Phonogram, which is terribly beloved and terribly good as well. A bit outside of my wheelhouse; love the magic, but none of this is actually a musical touchstone for me, though it surely could have been for some alternate universe me. As a first issue, it’s in many ways a showpiece for McKelvie, who returns to old stomping grounds with new skill. Breaking from WicDiv for an arc to do this is shrewd as fuck.
Check out Richard Jones’s review as well, as it’s sumptuous.
Moore casually and off-handedly reels out the sort of deft textual stunt that’s why he’s Alan Moore, suddenly bringing together strands of his own plot and Lovecraft’s original work in an unexpected and disturbing way. The issue’s a slow burn leading up to a scintillatingly good and ominous dream sequence. We’re ramping up to some real classics of Lovecraft, doing a one-two punch between this issue and next of “Shadow Over Innsmouth” and “The Dunwich Horror,” and the sense of scale is increasing nicely as well. One can only imagine where Moore intends to go over the next nine issues.
Ellis finally kicks off here, which is consistent with the longform game he’s been playing with this phase of his career. I love the relationship between the past and history here, and the phrase “the speed of nature.” Shavley and Bellaire are doing phenomenal work here, capturing grandeur and weirdness in equal measures. The highlight of Ellis’s current batch of comics, this one.
August 12, 2015 @ 12:41 pm
Providence takes a day or two to fully digest in my brain, so maybe i'll change my mind on this, but most of what I liked about this issue is in Robert's journal. "I WILL MAKE YOU FISHES OF MEN" was laugh-out-loud funny, and it's interesting to see how Moore is setting up the eventual meeting with Lovecraft himself. Negathlia-Lou's eldritch accent was a beautiful touch as well, it's small details like that and the parallel boys waving to their relatives which make me really excited for where Moore's going with Lovecraft's material. Maybe the appetite for this series will be the motivation I need to slog through the rest of Necronomicon.
August 12, 2015 @ 1:18 pm
Could I suggest checking out Howard the Duck #5? Without wanting to spoil it, it ties in with the Skrull Kill Krew.
There's also a rather wonderful running gag with the footnotes, and how all bar two of them are made up, but the real ones read as far more ridiculous than the made up ones.
As a Gerber purist, I've always felt any Howard it written by him simply doesn't work: he was Howard, for all intents and purposes. But Zdarsky is responsible for the best written Howard outside of Gerber, at least partly helped by him not trying to ape Gerbers voice, and making Howard a stand in for himself.
August 12, 2015 @ 5:30 pm
I'm curious as to why Marvel cannot get event comics written and inked well ahead of schedule, as it'd be insane to have the New Marvel hitting newsstands before Secret Wars finishes it's run. I'm not talking the whole cross-title epic, just the core Secret Wars title.
August 12, 2015 @ 8:58 pm
Bar Brothers System Review Everywhere you look – advertisements on the television, magazines and even articles tell the same story. All of them advise you that if you want to turn fat into muscle you have to resort to protein powders. This magic supplement they promise will be the making of you.
http://newsletters.getresponse.com/archive/realrreview/Bar-Brothers-System-Workout-Review-Free-PDF-Download-161592701.html There is no bigger falsehood than this.
August 12, 2015 @ 9:26 pm
I haven't gotten books yet this week, but I did finally get around to reading the 1st two Phonogram trades. The big thing I got from them is that other people respond to music in a way I mostly just don't get. Nothing wrong with that, but it's interesting to see. It also means that, despite what the creators say, I found Rue Britannia far easier to get into than Singles Club. But I suspect I'm reading them totally backwards; I'm using the comics ideas to get some grasp of the music and how some people interact with it, where the major idea seems to be using music to show people the comic ideas. Or something like that, I may be missing the entire point.
Had been wondering for the past few weeks why I and some other comic-minded types I know have been on a bit of a Lovecraft kick for the past few weeks. Of COURSE it's because of Providence, but for some reason I didn't make the connection in my head that that's why it's out there and I've been thinking about it.
August 13, 2015 @ 3:12 am
Speaking of alternate universe yous, judging from my one time going there, the nightclub scene in Phonogram is a pretty good proxy for the monthly meet-ups at Tavern (OK, with a bit more cunnilingus). In other words, when you get bunches of clever, screwed-up obsessive fans together, this is what it looks like.
August 13, 2015 @ 3:20 am
I'm pretty sure the original Secret Wars and Crisis had their post new status quo comics out before the main event finished.
That said yeah, it's pretty crazy in this day and age, especially given how long a lead up to this that there was!
August 13, 2015 @ 5:30 am
I wonder how well the original Secret Wars was planned out in terms of ongoing readership of overall titles as, as the idea of, say, the Fantastic Four going into a mysterious machine and Reed, Sue, Johnny and She-Hulk (instead of Ben Grimm) coming out again is quite a hook… as from what I gather the original Secret Wars occurred completely out of synch from the other titles – i.e. from week 1 to week 2 the status quo changed immediately, with Secret Wars playing out slowly entirely in retrospect.
Which to me is madness, but very very clever madness in that it was engaging. I wonder if it was planned much or just planned enough to work regardless of timings.
August 15, 2015 @ 5:16 am
DC's original 52 worked like that; all the regular titles jumped forwards a year to an entirely new status quo, and then the weekly 52 title explained why. (At least, that was the theory…)
August 17, 2015 @ 9:19 am
I can't help but feel like Phil is underselling Squirrel Girl a bit here. The Cat Thor bit alone is one of the best things Marvel has done in a decade. 🙂
September 3, 2015 @ 2:01 am
So while it's true that the people make an event (and the people definitely made any event!) this space definitely adds a different dimension to it. Went to party space rentals in Brooklyn for an evening event and I was really impressed.