Let’s try something different this week – instead of grades, a somewhat more idiosyncratic countdown from my least favorite thing I picked up this week to my pick of the week.
The Unwritten Apocalypse #8
Long a book I’ve meant to sit down with when it’s all done, that being the way in which Carey’s previous Lucifer worked best. It got some new momentum when it reset to #1 and added “Apocalypse” to its name, but at this point that momentum has fizzled, and I find myself wishing the book would get to its final arc, as it feels ready for it. Not unpleasant, but not entirely compelling either.
Well, at least the sense of an ending and of some scale is creeping back into the book, such that I’m prepared to believe that they’ll stick the landing. But I think it’s pretty clear this series is going to have ended up running some seventy-five issues longer than it should. It’s gotten to an annoying state of being too big to sell well in trade, and too many arcs were mediocrities. Buying out of a glorious sunk cost fallacy, basically, but it could yet work out.
Mighty Avengers #13
I scolded someone the other day for declaring that people oughtn’t refer to this book as the Black Avengers, and this issue largely proves my point, with a story that’s very much about race and American history. Which is not entirely what anyone would, on the surface, expect from a white British writer, but that is much of this book’s charm. And it has the single best last word of any book this week.
The Fade Out #1
Brubaker is always an odd one for me – he’s undeniably good, but his propensity for doing straight up, traditional genre pieces tends to leave me a bit cold. I still will buy any #1 with his name on it. Not sure I’ll go for #2 here, as this seems like a straight up noir book without much in the way of new ideas, but it’s very well executed, and if you have any love of noir (I can take it or leave it), this is probably your pick of the week.
This is increasingly just feeling like Ellis is trolling the readership. He’s said it might only go for one arc, but it’s unfathomable that this is actually a single arc story – it’s clearly structured as an ongoing. Ellis is, of course, more than capable of pulling off a surprise and making this work, and I’m certainly not criticizing it, but I am wary of it. Within this specific issue, meanwhile, are at least two great scenes. Interesting, and if you can go at it with a “journey is more important than the destination” attitude, it surely won’t disappoint, but I’m still wary.
New Avengers #23
Hickman plays to his strengths with a bunch of lovely character beats, followed by a twist that’s been a long time coming and that really, properly spices this book up a bit. For all my occasional frustrations with Hickman, I am interested in how he’s going to land this, and New Avengers has fairly consistently been good. So yes – this one properly excited me.
The statistical average of a Grant Morrison comic, which is in no way an unpleasant thing. I have some ethical concerns about the “haunted comic book” idea, especially given the particulars of the magical system in which Morrison works, but I’ll withhold judgment until I see where he’s going with it all. What jumps out at me here is that for all the ways in which Morrison is reveling in conceptual excess (“”it’s rotating through the fifth dimension around a fixed point in the structure of the multiversal orrery of worlds!”), this is remarkably clear and sensible. Fun book, if you like Morrison’s superhero work.
Quite a surprise to me, this was a remarkably good issue. Waid can frustrate me a bit, but he’s inventive and good at drawing from various elements. In this case, he mixes a solid if slightly didactic discussion of postpartum depression with leftist protest nuns, and gives Daredevil a very solid opportunity to be clever and find a solution other heroes wouldn’t. I accused Waid of being past his best ideas for the character a few issues ago. I am hereby proven wrong.
Ms. Marvel #7
This comic is consistently a delight, and I praise it unreservedly. The last panel twist is genius, and I love Wilson’s use of Wolverine, and the idea that Wolverine gets Kamala in a really fundamental level. There are a lot of heroes Wilson could have used for this plot point, many of them more intuitive for this book than Wolverine. Instead Wilson went for a gratuitously over-exposed character who didn’t self-evidently appear to be the right tone for this book, and hit it out of the park. Word is that the digital sales on this are through the roof, such that it’s actually outselling every X-Men and Avengers book Marvel is publishing. As well it should – this is a masterpiece.
The Wicked + The Divine #3
Brilliant, of course. A comic long on ideas, but unlike, say, Grant Morrison, interested in avoiding being too flashy about how many clever things it can do, instead giving the ideas plenty of room to breathe, while still only spending a little time with each of them. Laura gets her first proper moment of awesome, and some great characterization (the scene with her family is so much brilliant and ouch). Thank God this book has 40-60 issues with which to explore everything. Also, two great double page spreads of the sort Gillen and McKelvie are supposedly not doing in this book. Magnificent.
Supreme Blue Rose #2
I have no idea what this book is. Two issues in, Ellis is so long on ideas that I honestly can’t tell where he’s going. It’s clearly in a tradition explored by Moore and Morrison, and its status as a response book to Moore, but two issues in Ellis is still mapping out the broad territory. Despite this, it’s fascinating and readable and excites me in a real and fundamental way. This is the book where I most want all the remaining issues to come out so I can read them all, so pick of the week it is.