The Week In Comic Books (May 5th, 2014)
No idea if this will become a regular feature. It very well may not. Certainly there are numerous potential issues such as “I don’t have time for this sort of thing” and “I don’t always manage to get my comics on a Wednesday making the Thursday position of this a bit dodgy.” But hey, let’s see what we can do. Here’s what I picked up at the shop today, with some arbitrary letter grades tacked onto the end. All titles are links to where you can grab the issues at Comixology if you’re interested in reading.
Think I’m dropping this, actually, which makes it a bit of a sad note to lead on. I started pulling it because it was nominally tied to the rest of the Jonathan Hickman Avengers arc, but Hickman seems to not be writing the book anymore, and I’d be a liar if I said I had any idea what was going on in it. It’s been the thing I leave for last every week it’s come out, and I’m just not feeling it. This time we’re introducing a team of Chinese superheroes, it seems, which has been done before. And one of them is modeled on Su Wukong, because God forbid anyone ever draw on another part of Chinese mythology. Boring. C-
Greg Rucka is a favorite, with a knack for character-driven stories, nice pacing, good dialogue, and books that are generally a good time whether they’re experimental or straightforward. This time it’s a father/son roadtrip through space, with the father apparently hiding a few secrets. Good. Fun. Enjoyable. As of issue #2 it’s still got plenty of cards it’s keeping to its chest, so it’s tough to comment too much, but this seems set to be a fun ride. B+
Iron Man #27
I’ve said elsewhere that Kieron Gillen’s run on Iron Man feels like some squandered potential to me, and this fits the bill. I love bits of it: the left-wing journalist, the Silk Road reference. But I consistently feel like the book would be better if it went more towards its Warren Ellis instincts and less towards its mainstream superhero instincts. The last page reveal is flaccid. It reads well enough, but there’s no spark here. I find myself glad Gillen is off the book soon, not so much because I’m eager to see what someone else does with it as because I’m eager to see him doing something else. B-
Loki: Agent of Asgard #5
First of all, let’s back up and say that Al Ewing is absolutely killing on this book. Given a ludicrous challenge of following Gillen’s absolutely iconic run on the character, he’s been keeping most of what Gillen did well while making the book his own. There’s a lot of nice buildup and payoff here, and I’m eager to see the consequences of the climax play out. Really hoping the book doesn’t lose momentum taking two months off to do a big crossover. A-
Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man #2
This is a book that’s very easy to love. Brian Michael Bendis has his flaws as a writer, but on an issue-to-issue level is usually quite good, and it’s really easy to like an African American/Latino Spider-Man who starts off his story in grade school as an idea. Bendis’s tendency towards decompression has always made him a good fit for the soap opera aspects of Spider-Man, and he’s built his little corner of characters up substantially in the decade plus he’s been writing them. All of which said, this isn’t a massively strong issue, with the cliffhanger from last week fizzling and the book feeling a bit water-treading. Still very fun, but neither issue of this particular iteration of “Bendis writes Spider-Man for the Ultimate Universe” has been the thing you’d hand to a newbie to sell them on the book. B
How do you even judge this? At $5 for twenty pages of story, it’s gruesomely overpriced, but equally, it’s an astonishingly beautiful restoration of some absolutely classic comics work. If you’ve never read it… it’s probably reasonable to hold out until Marvel releases an actually affordable collection. If you have read it… well, it’s very, very pretty. Or at least, it is until Alan Davis is replaced by Chuck Austen thirteen pages in, but that’ll only last an issue more, and then it’s John Totleben for the remainder, which is going to be astonishingly beautiful, one suspects. Rating this seems almost pointless. It’s Alan Moore’s Miracleman run. What else do you need?
Moon Knight #4
The momentum of this was sucked out a bit by the knowledge that Ellis is only doing six issues of it, but this one’s an effective horror story. I like Ellis’s style here – he’s always in solid form doing one-shots. There’s more than a bit of Moore-era Swamp Thing going on here, and it’s fun to watch Ellis hop genres monthly. One never knows what to expect save that it’ll be a good yarn. Probably my pick of the week. A
Original Sin #3
Ah, the soft and often flabby middle of a big Marvel crossover. Major character death, check. Event that triggers all sorts of repercussions for the tie-ins, check. Pacing gone to shit with a heavy dose of “OK I’ve been reading this for a month now and I’m ready for payoff instead of things that were spoiled during the hype cycle,” check. Trouble is, very little in this is actually interesting. The answers are more interesting than the mystery, or at least, they’d better be. Thus far, not so much. C
June 5, 2014 @ 2:18 am
Huh, nothing but Marvel. I'm surprised by that for some reason–would have expected something indy, and maybe whichever the one statutorily permitted not entirely terrible New 52 comic is this month.
June 5, 2014 @ 3:57 am
Not this week's comics, but I did pick up that recent Humble Bundle of Doctor Who comics and I've been making my way through them. Agent Provocateur was, as RTD might say, "Mental". Bit all over the place, still not quite sure what was going on and which characters were on what side and who was betraying whom.
Reading The Forgotten right now, and yeah it's literally a Doctor Who museum with popular companions for each Doctor, and all the catchphrases and iconic stuff from those eras.
June 5, 2014 @ 4:15 am
Yeah, I guess that surprises me too. If you like Rucka, I hope you're reading Lazarus. It's a superb piece of work.
June 5, 2014 @ 4:43 am
Fun thought for the day: Sony Pictures currently owns the rights to the Peter Parker Spider-Man, and is obviously intent on keeping their ownership option alive in perpetuity even if it means asking Roger Corman to make one.
…but who owns the movie rights to Miles Morales? Could Marvel/Disney make their own spider-man movies as long as the words "Peter Parker" are never breathed? The cinematic "Marvel Universe" is more or less based on the Ultimate continuity anyway…
(Oh god, they'd probably cast Jayden Smith as Miles, wouldn't they?)
June 5, 2014 @ 4:51 am
"If you've never read it… it's probably reasonable to hold out until Marvel releases an actually affordable collection."
Amazon says that the relevant collection ("The Red King Syndrome") will drop October 28. ("A Dream of Flying" is already in stores, but I have a copy of the Eclipse edition, so I'm not in such a hurry to get the Marvel.)
Also, I think Alan Moore should be credited as "The Original Writer" on other projects from which he's asked to have his name removed, but that's just my opinion.
June 5, 2014 @ 5:21 am
Yeah, that was a fabulous bargain – less than 50p per book! I'd read quite a few already thanks to the local library, but it's good to have my own copies and to see some of the other ones, like Prisoners of Time, which is the thematic sequel to The Forgotten. The latest review on my own, erratic blog covers the first issue of that series, which I didn't even know existed until this came along.
I'm rationing myself, so I've only read a couple of the books other than PoT so far.
June 5, 2014 @ 8:55 am
I've come to the conclusion of "meh" on all the Avengers titles since the recent Young Avengers ended. I think I just don't have any patience for the constant need for epic-scale stories.
I'm also perplexed at how poorly these books work for casual people that may have seen the movie and are curious. (But maybe Marvel found that isn't a significant segment of readers?)
I vote for more posts in this vein, when you can!
June 5, 2014 @ 9:10 am
Very much a quirk of the release schedule. Loads of indy stuff will crop up on other weeks, although I do have an admitted Marvel problem.
June 5, 2014 @ 11:05 am
And one of them is modeled on Su Wukong, because God forbid anyone ever draw on another part of Chinese mythology.
Or indeed, have a Chinese superhero team in which nobody is based on Chinese mythology.
If the Avengers were created on the same principles as non-American superhero teams, Giant-Man would be called Paul Bunyan, the Beast would be Skunk Ape, and Scarlet Witch would be Salem. Their origins wouldn't be changed in any way, just as Sasquatch from Alpha Flight has much the same origin as Hulk, but has to be named after a Canadian cryptid, because he's Canadian.
June 5, 2014 @ 12:04 pm
I think if I were Alan Moore I'd just want to be credited as The Original Writer in general, but that would probably defeat the purpose.
The House to Astonish podcast had some fun with this (Episode 112: Marvel.EXE):
Paul: I'm intrigued. Billed as "The Original Writer". As opposed to what? Wouldn't it be awesome if Alan Moore had said "You can reprint these on condition you have them completely redialogued by someone who has never read the original issues"? The Magic Roundabout approach.
Al: I wonder how they're going to credit it? All the little Warrior credit boxes, just score through his name with a sharpie.
Paul: And put "Stan Lee".
Al: Don't give him ideas! The Bombastic Miracleman!
Paul: Chuck Austen worked on Miracleman?
Al: Chuck Austen drew…
Paul: Oh, that's not so bad.
Al: …drew some of Alan Moore's Miracleman as Chuck Beckam.
Paul Maybe Alan Moore should have insisted it be credited to Chuck Austen. That would have been fun.
Al: On the front cover, Chuck Austen's Miracleman! On the back cover, a picture of Alan Moore giving you the finger!
June 5, 2014 @ 3:19 pm
Dr Sandifer: Somewhat off-topic, but as these are reviewy I was wondering if you will be doing any more not-a-review-blog posts? Will you be doing reviews of any Big Finish audios and the Ecclestone/Tennant episodes of nuWho?
June 5, 2014 @ 4:12 pm
it's really easy to like an African American/Latino Spider-Man who starts off his story in grade school
DC's Blue Beetle is a Latino Spider-Man clone who starts off his story in grade school.
June 5, 2014 @ 7:04 pm
I'm also (a little) surprised you're a Marvel guy. But that's cool– I am, too. Though the $3.99 price point has made me much less of a Marvel guy than I used to be.
And I have to second Andre– I'm glad Rucka is picking up Marvel work, but Lazarus is damn fantastic. People need to be reading that.
June 5, 2014 @ 7:10 pm
And that was a good series, while it lasted. (The original, Pre-N52.) I was very pleased to see that the Jaime Reyes BB made the cut for the Brave and the Bold cartoon.
June 5, 2014 @ 8:03 pm
I was a Marvel guy in my childhood comics reading. Dropped out somewhere during some X-Men crossover called, I believe, The Phalanx Covenant, but I honestly could be making that up.
Got back into comics in college, where I quickly found that Bill Jemas-era Marvel was not to my taste, whereas, as I discovered in the year or two after college, DC in the leadup to Infinite Crisis was quite good. Spent several years as a DC fan with minimal Marvel pulls.
Somewhere around The Heroic Age/Brightest Day the pendulum swung back towards Marvel, and after the New 52 I ended up in a position of not reading any DC books save for Wonder Woman, and even that I don't think I'll keep past Azarello's run.
June 6, 2014 @ 12:05 am
I was mostly a Marvelite, especially X-Men, though I always loved the Legion of Superheroes for its lighthearted OTT qualities. I became a big fan in the 70s, stayed with US comics all through the 80s and most of the 90s (gradually switching allegiance more to DC with the Swamp Thing/Sandman/Vertigo period), then tailed off towards the end of that decade. LSH was the final comic I kept on buying after I'd pretty much stopped reading them, mostly for nostalgia (I'd been reading them whenever I could find them since Superboy #200) – it was when they tried to make it grim 'n' gritty (for the second time) with Legion Lost that I finally stopped buying completely, around the turn of the Millennium. So I guess I'm a 20th Century Comic Boy.
June 6, 2014 @ 1:49 am
I was always more of a DC guy. Although I'm currently going through a system of "Am I buying this comic out of habit or because I'm actually enjoying it? Is it, in fact, actively horrible?" I haven't dropped as many as I expected because of this, although Scott Lobdell managed the almost impossible task of getting me to reconsider if I wanted to read Superman.
I do read Marvel stuff, but it's mostly the Marvel UK reprints. Yes, it means I'm over a year behind (let's talk about AvX!), but three-and-a-bit issues for £3.50! Except X-Factor and SHIELD (if they ever start publishing that again) because Marvel UK are never going to reprint those. Anything else they don't reprint that I think looks interesting, I'll get the trade.
June 6, 2014 @ 5:32 am
If you are not already, you should be reading Saga. B.K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples have created a crazy world. The latest issue has a truly jaw-dropping first page.
Just a recommendation. Glad you posted this!
June 6, 2014 @ 10:22 am
Um…is it wrong of me to absolutely love the idea of Paul Bunyan, Skunk Ape and Salem fighting crime? Joined maybe by Luke Cage as John Henry, Captain America as Uncle Sam (yes, I know, DC actually did that…)
June 6, 2014 @ 10:25 am
Almost certainly they have the rights to the name "Spider-Man". So even if Marvel did still hold the rights to Miles Morales (which is pretty unlikely, to be blunt, because there are probably clauses about "associated characters and concepts" that spell these things out, because they're both big entertainment companies with professional lawyers, but I understand that you're doing this as a thought experiment) they would have to not only never mention Peter Parker, but call Miles Morales something other than Spider-Man and call the movie something other than Spider-Man.
Boring answer, I know, but it's how these things work.
June 6, 2014 @ 10:26 am
I applaud this idea, if nothing else because it will mean that hopefully we get your thoughts on the new Ms. Marvel.
June 6, 2014 @ 10:58 am
As luck would have it, I had similar thoughts after Dr. M's comment, but didn't commit the Will points to an intention to post them. Depending on how the licensing was arranged, they might be able to use the Scarlet Spider name and costume for an MCU Miles, but if they can't actually use the "Spider-Man" name in the title, they're not likely to let him carry an entire movie. (Although, who knows? As a street-level character, he could show up in the "Secret Defenders" meta-series.)
June 6, 2014 @ 5:28 pm
I harbor doubts there will be affordable Miracleman collections. A DREAM OF FLYING only has 112 pages of story. At cover price, it works out to roughly 27 cents per page. If Marvel wanted a perennial bookstore seller like WATCHMEN, the strategy of overpriced and very thin books won't accomplish it.
June 6, 2014 @ 5:51 pm
Affordable, like up, is a relative concept. The lowest asking price for the Eclipse edition of The Red King Syndrome on eBay is US$6.00; the next lowest is 39.99. The Marvel edition has an SRP of 34.99; Amazon are knocking that down to 26.59, BAMM.com and B&N.com to 26.90.
"If Marvel wanted a perennial bookstore seller like WATCHMEN, the strategy of overpriced and very thin books won't accomplish it."
This, I have to admit, nails it.
June 6, 2014 @ 8:31 pm
My assumption is that cheaper editions will in time follow. I'd guess that by the time they have new Neil Gaiman material to publish, catching up will be affordable.
Then again, God only knows what the financials on this look like. After the Watchmen contract, the details behind Miracleman at Marvel are some of the legal terms I'd most like to see leak in comics history.