First off, as alluded to on Saturday, I’ve got the first of the episode commentaries from the old William Hartnell Second Edition Kickstarter ready. Helping bail me out when it became evident that me on my own was not interesting listening is Jack Graham, so if the two of us talking about the first episode of The Rescue sounds fun, well, here it is. (That’s a Dropbox link – I should have enough bandwidth there for anyone who wants it to download it, but if problems arise, let me know and I’ll figure some new hosting out.) We’ll tackle episode two next week. We’re still working out how best to do these and what they should be like, so please, comments are very much welcome, both to give us an idea of how much actual interest there is for this and to help us fine-tune it.
Second, comics! Worst to best of what I bought.
Moon Knight #12
There’s a frustrating evaporation of interesting ethics here, with the character arguing for a particular and extreme moral position turning out to have been corrupt and evil all along. The rest of the plot lines are resolved with a whimper. It’s been a while since Brian Wood impressed, hasn’t it? All told, they should have just let Warren Ellis do this as a miniseries. And now they’re going to… Cullen Bunn? Jeez. I mean, Bunn isn’t a bad writer, but when your book has gone from bracing formalist experiments with Warren Ellis to Cullen Bunn… well, you’ve certainly managed to lose the point of your existence as a book. Dropping this. Frankly, in hindsight, I should have trusted my instincts and dropped it after #6.
The main story is seventeen pages long. The final issue isn’t even solicited yet, but is apparently just going to be an entire trade paperback, which does kind of make the buildup over the course of this arc frustrating – the reality is that this isn’t the final arc and never has been. In any case, I find the months gap before the finale frustrating, and I did the whole “final installment is a surprise book” first, so, really, I’m just ready to be done with the Fables era of my life.
Somewhat workmanlike for this series – less playing with an inventive premise and more putting pieces in place for a big pre-Convergence finale. But still fun, and it’s nice to see this vision of the book do something with the Barbara/Dinah relationship.
Unfortunately, it turns out that having Jim Lee draw Hitler reading Superman comics on the toilet was Grant Morrison’s best idea for this issue, and that it turns into an exercise in connecting obvious dots shortly thereafter. Multiversity has been fun at times, but I have to say, I’m glad to see it finally getting to the conclusion after this, if only because I’m really interested in Morrison’s magical ethics here.
Silver Surfer #9
Very much the middle chapter of a story, which is fine, but in a book like this something of a downer – it doesn’t introduce any new bonkers ideas, and it doesn’t pay off any of the ones it has. Though there’s a lovely Dawn moment.
Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #5
Pedestrian until its last twist, but its last twist is one of the most delightful uses of obscure corners of the Marvel Universe ever, played unabashedly as a cliffhanger that I fear half the audience won’t get. That half, however, are sad people who have never read one of the greatest comics ever. Made all the better by a bit earlier in the issue that seems to be setting up Secret Wars and then ends up setting up something else.
Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man #10
Nice to see this book going back to the plotline it left completely abandoned three months ago. This does the job well, with a nice cliffhanger. The bulk of the book is Bendis by numbers, but it’s a rhythm he’s good at, and one that’s always worked well with Spider-Man. Satisfying.
An issue designed for the artist, with a thirteen page wordless fight sequence. Not my cup of tea, as a result – I’ve never really dug the wordless comics thing, and don’t know enough about the physical mechanics of a sword fight to entirely appreciate thirteen pages of it. But Lark does very well with it, and I respect the comic tremendously. Plus, the final twist is a killer. Can’t wait for the next arc, though the text-heavy stand-alone issue we’re getting between this and it also sounds fun.
Loki: Agent of Asgard #11
Well this is certainly building to a triumphant conclusion. At this point it’s tough to judge the arc – it’s one that could end in ways that will leave me angrily unsatisfied, or it could end in ways that are thrilling and brilliant. Ultimately, I trust Al Ewing, and I’m terribly excited for this book, but man, what a note to end on. One of the best “let’s really start to pay off months of storytelling” books of recent memory.
Uncanny X-Men #31
Satisfying end game here, which is somewhat surprising given the amount of retconning involved. I’m terribly curious how we get from here to the status quo for Cyclops we saw in Avengers, and I’m curious how Bendis is going to be landing this thing, as it were. I’m sure the answer will be with a chain of unsatisfying issues followed by one that pays it all off, because it’s a Bendis comic and that’s how he writes, but when the payoffs work as well as this issue does, I’m pretty OK with that.
Ms. Marvel #12
A comedy one-off featuring Loki crashing Ms. Marvel’s high school dance and spiking the punch with truth serum. If that’s not enough to sell you on the book, I can’t help you. This was basically perfect.
Bitch Planet #3
The shift towards portraying the ordinary world instead of the prison for an issue is an interesting one for this book – one that starts to show the weird contours of its dystopia in detail, instead of just in hints. The decision to take every third issue and do a background story like this is an interesting structural one, and it immediately pays off. There are some wonderfully bleak lines and images that evoke Warren Ellis doing Transmet, paralleled with some bracing character work that results in what may be Kelly Sue DeConnick’s strongest single issue to date. This is a hell of a book.