Comics Reviews (February 18th, 2015)
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.
February 18, 2015 @ 2:19 pm
I love 'Ms. Marvel'. I have nothing further of substance to add here.
February 18, 2015 @ 2:26 pm
If bandwidth proves to be an issue, I recommend using archive.org. Plus they can be grouped together there so people can easily find all the commentaries.
February 18, 2015 @ 4:42 pm
[Comics I've been reading 5]: MPH #5 (Image) — I didn't see the main reveal of the final issue of this mini series coming. Mark Millar's latest additions to his intellectual property portfolio — Jupiter's Legacy, Starlight and MPH — are well-done, I think. Unfortunately, Starlight as well as MPH suffer from tepid conclusions, insofar as Mr. Millar checkboxes his plotlines too predictably in order to fulfill the conventions of Hollywood storytelling. I have nothing against happy endings (quite the contrary) but MPH piles it really on in this regard.
February 18, 2015 @ 5:11 pm
You could always upload them to your Youtube channel, to live on in perpetuity?
Have downloaded, but will be a while until I listen – I'm still reading through the brilliant Library entry!
February 18, 2015 @ 7:28 pm
I know they announced Fables 150 was going to be 150 pages way back in March of last year. Which doesn't excuse the poor planning that means it's going to be months before we finally see it; but I don't think it's really a surprise. (And I agree, as much as I've enjoyed large chunks of the run I'm ready for Fables to be done.)
February 18, 2015 @ 8:49 pm
And just listened to the commentary. Quite fun; are you planning on doing all of these with Jack or are you going to rotate your guest as you go along?
February 19, 2015 @ 6:57 am
I jumped off Fables (which I had been enjoying until that point) during the "Great Fables Crossover" when all the main cast treated Jack's taking the virtually comatose and withdrawn Rose Red as his fuck toy like it was a consensual relationship, and for which there appeared to be no consequences.
So many Marvel and DC comics are now winding down to their respective company relaunches. All except the ones that are still stuck in big stories that are desperately trying to obscure the fact that nothing that occurs in them actually matters. I was slightly disappointed that Uncanny actually fixed everything. It would have been so much more entertaining if they'd gone ahead with "yes, Cyclops is really dead and professor X is back" because ultimately it doesn't matter. Plus it would have been fun when X caught up with his time-lost X-Men.
February 19, 2015 @ 9:59 am
Looking at your tumblr feed I'm amused to see that the banality of Jonathan Jones' art criticism for the Guardian is such as to be noticed from the other side of the Atlantic. (No, I haven't read the piece that triggered your latest remark. I only ever read him when I forget to look at the byline.)
February 20, 2015 @ 7:10 am
I just want to thank you for the commentary. I have to say, I absolutely loved it, and can't wait for more. I hope this series of commentaries continues past those already funded by the kickstarter.
And I say this as someone who rarely has time for commentaries. I find some rare commentaries compelling, but almost never play the DVD commentary track because I find they really drag for me. I'd usually rather hear the insights of the contributors in more concise form, such as in the documentaries and interviews.
But you and Jack managed to fill every minute with genuinely compelling and insightful discussion. I can't wait for part two.