Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill
Abysmal. Genuinely, shudderingly awful. Spoilers ahoy. A patchwork of ideas that have been done before, including an ending that not only directly rips off a well-remembered 90s book, but that rips off a well-remembered 90s book that was also drawn by Mark Bagley, right down to the reveal being “he was Baron Zemo all along.” Except Thunderbolts actually sought to do something with its premise, whereas the only idea this has is “well I guess we should do some misdirection and make people think it’s Bucky and Tony Stark.” The thing is, SHIELD trapping superheroes in totalitarian suburbia is actually interesting, whereas SHIELD mind-wiping villians and sticking them in totalitarian suburbia prison is Identity Crisis with the serial number half-filed off. This is insipid, a cash-grab crossover that doesn’t even pretend to have a motivation other than trying to forbid readers from actually picking and choosing among the glut of Avengers books for two months. I can tell you already that nobody is going to read Avengers Standoff in five years. Nobody is going to read it in one year. Shit, nobody should read it next month. I’m sure as fuck not going to. Why would I? I mean, if the choice is “drop both New Avengers and All-New All-Different Avengers, one of which has been serially disappointing me anyway” or “spend an extra $42 in order to follow a complete banality of a crossover?” Yeah. Fuck that.
Digital code: FMC1V5FXB5PX
Sex Criminals #14
That Fraction and Zdarsky steal the “masturbatory” joke that begs to be made about the four page sequence in the middle of this does not really avoid the fact that there’s a four page sequence of the comic openly admitting that it couldn’t get a key narrative beat to actually work right. The killer – I was shocked when I looked to discover that it was only four pages of the comic. It felt vastly longer. Anyway, it’s still Sex Criminals with all the wonder that implies, but this is a duff issue not helped by a recap page that serves more to sell the book to someone who’s already bought it than to remind a reader who may have forgotten the precise relationships among the secondary cast that make up most of what actually happens in this issue.
Silver Surfer #2
Man, I was all set for this to be low in my rankings and cause for lots of complaining, but instead Slott and Allred make a well-timed digression into the Silver Surfer back catalogue for an issue that serves as a nice reminder of the fact that “it’s Silver Surfer done as Doctor Who with Michael Allred cutting loose on the Kirby homages” is a genuinely delightful premise.
Digital code: FCMY5SJD89W7
Bitch Planet #7
Another comic that suffers from a huge delay in issues and an insufficient recap page – Whitney has, I’m pretty sure, not appeared since September, the cliffhanger hinges on who she is and what her relationship to the main character is, and yet the recap page neglects to mention her. And, guys, this is bad. This is not how you handle a book that’s suffering from delays. Despite this, it’s a stunner of an issue, with all the utterly unrepentant anger and passion that makes this, for my money, the best piece of comic book science fiction coming out right now. The scene with Kamau and Penny in the shower is absolutely stunning. DeConnick’s ability to capture the casual pettiness of misogynistic sadism remains unparalleled. This is an absolutely essential book.