Comics Reviews (February 24th, 2016)
Oof. Rough week.
All-New All-Different Avengers #6
This has been a shocking disappointment of a book through and through, and does not improve with this issue, which consists of obvious plot beats, banal pop culture references, and relatively minimal characterization. I honestly had no idea it was possible to write Kamala Khan so dully. Dropping it for Assault on Pleasant Hill, and I think the odds of my picking it up again after are basically nil.
Digital code: FCMLM0YTC6RW
Oh, well, they didn’t fridge the character last issue. That’s nice I suppose. Past that, we’re in that “quiet issues before the end” lull that seemingly every creator-owned sixty issue series has to do, and it’s as dull as that usually is on a book that I’m just riding out because I’ve bought, well, fifty-five issues of it now and am not going to stop this close to the end. Still, it’s better than late Fables.
I just… don’t care. There is nothing in this entire issue that I care about. No, that’s not quite true. There are sparks – little flashes here and there that remind one why this is such a beloved book. The interactions with Hazel’s teacher are genuinely good. The little seal guy is charming. The questions in the survey at the end are funny. Fiona Staples remains one of the best artists in the history of the medium. But I have to admit, I’m pretty on board with the growing Vaughan backlash that argues that he can’t structure an ongoing book and that his plots all feel the same. In any case, I’m done here.
Black Magick #5
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the week, or indeed of recent comics. Greg Rucka has always, for my money, been a little dicey on magic/horror (the Crime Bible stuff was always the weakest link of his Question/Batwoman stuff, and Veil was an almost complete misfire), and unfortunately that weakness has consistently overwhelmed his strength at police procedural stuff in this book. At the end of the first arc it’s impossible for me to find anything to invest in. The main character is a cipher, the supporting cast is indistinguished, everyone’s motivations are played too close to the chest, the larger threat is undefined. Does virtually nothing a first arc should. Tragic to see such a good team produce something this weak.
I’m not a huge fan of the Warren Ellis “one long fight scene” issue, which is at this point a formulaic Ellis thing that appears in multiple books. This isn’t quite that, but it has eleven wordless pages, including seven pages of Karnak punching things silently at the outset. Which is fine – you know Ellis is going to throw one of these in. Zaffino kills with it, in a fitting finish to his brief time on the book. It’s just a rough way to come back after a three month delay to the book. Definitely something designed to work in an actually monthly comic. Oh well. At least the talky bits are interesting. I’m sure this will get good again soon.
Digital code: FCMN8BWMH6L4
New Avengers #7
I’m actually going to miss this while it goes and does a dumb crossover I don’t care about, and may well pick it up again on the other side. A solo focus on White Tiger, which is a nice choice that bends in some unexpected ways. A hilarious joke about Ultimate Universe typography. And all in all, a team book that works, which is a rare thing in the depressing wasteland that is this latest Marvel relaunch.
Digital code: THMZ0ZRYSNNV
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5
The extended Doctor Doom time travel plot is probably the weakest chunk of Squirrel Girl to date, which is to say that it’s brilliant, repeatedly hilarious, thoughtful, and basically one of the best comics coming out. This does time travel and paradoxes with aplomb, in a way that further highlights the fundamental lack of interesting in All-New All-Different Avengers. All told, a triumph. Genuinely eager to see this cross over into Howard the Duck, not least because I’ve been terribly remiss in checking out the new Howard the Duck series.
Digital code: FCMTSYWD19QH
Cry Havoc #2
Not as good as the captivating debut, though it couldn’t possibly be. But Spurrier is developing something nuanced, intelligent, and very, very good here. The three time periods remain a bold stylistic choice (as does the main creative gimmick of this book, using a different colorist on each one, which serves to emphasize the importance of the role), and it’s easier to get lost here, but as the book wryly and cleverly states, “for more information reread comic.” Hard to argue when it’s this good.
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #4
This book is really hitting its stride and clearly demonstrating what it wants to be at this point, and it’s absolutely captivating. Moon Girl is a genuinely great character, and is characterized intelligently by contrasting her with the Totally Awesome Hulk, himself an entertaining spin on the basic Hulk concept. The art in this is absolutely joyous, and the concept unrepentently “a girl and her pet dinosaur as superheroes” in all the best ways, and it’s shaping up to be the equal of things like Ms. Marvel or The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Truly a delght.
Digital code: THMMPIJU6GHH
February 25, 2016 @ 12:08 am
As I’ve said elsewhere, Saga works relatively well in trade rather than single issues.
February 25, 2016 @ 12:20 am
in re Saga: I’ve also long ago moved to trades on this one. Following it month by (sorta) month seems like an exercise in utter frustration at this point.
February 25, 2016 @ 5:16 am
Trying to decide what I think about the Chew issue. Part of me thinks Layman was trying something clever and worthwhile by setting up and subverting a fridging like that, but it didn’t quite work in practice.
One detail I did appreciate, at least in principle: That particular beat is purely writing for the single issues and will work oddly in the trade. Which is very, very rare for something that will ultimately wind up as vol. 11 of 12.
On a completely different note, you’re not giving Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat a try? I’ve been quite pleasantly surprised by the book, even if I haven’t gotten this week’s issue yet.
February 25, 2016 @ 9:14 pm
Hey Phil, this, as you will no doubt discover is not a comment on this post, I also support duckfeedtv a gaming, mostly souls, Demon’s Souls/bloodborne podcasting team,. A perk of being a patreon is access to a slack group. Slack, as you may or may not know is a team messaging app, just putting it out there as a means of communication. It works for them and I am sure could work for us, best Neil