Into the Longbox

Badger Saves the World #4, Baron and Dose. What happened here? Things went completely off the rails; Caron was apparently not up to the publishing schedule of the book and is gone. The new guy, Dose is kinda thrown in the deep end and doesn’t make it all work. There are parts of this issue where I’m not even sure what’s going on – and not in a good way. If you’re not a Badger competist I’d stay away.

The Last Defenders #2 (of 6), Casey, Giffen, Muniz. I want to like this, and it’s not happening. A third of the way in, I haven’t found any character whose fate interests me or who I can identify with or pull for. I’ve been kind of enjoying the Flaming Skull’s ongoing wise cracking, but that doesn’t a book make. I’ll probably drop this.

Will Eisner’s The Spirit #15, Argones, Evanier, Smith. Man, I’m still not loving the new team. The art is really nice. if anything it’s maybe a tad too imitative of Eisner, but I can’t really argue with clean lines and good storytelling. The real problem I have with this issue is that I feel like P’Gell isn’t handled quite right. My image of her is of someone a little more on top of The Spirit. It’s rare that the Spirit ever gets the best of her, and then she seems to pop back to the surface like a cork. Her being the half-assed mastermind of this convoluted diamond smuggling plan just didn’t work for me. Your mileage may vary, and the art’s very good.

Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #7 (of 8), Palmiotti, Gray, Arlem. The pacing of this book is staring to drive me to distraction. I expect that the creative team had some ideas running around from their previous series that they wanted to resolve, but they really seem to have paced things badly. The first few issues were nice set-ups – and even thoughtful and interesting in places – but now everything’s just happening at once because there’s only one issue left. This doesn’t give a feeling of climax to the final issue, and the whole series seems rattly and disjointed. Missed opportunity.

Captain America #36, Brubaker, Guice, Perkins, D’Armata. This, on the other hand, is a pretty good example of pacing. The Skull’s plan bubbles along, new revelations are made, old characters part ways, and the tension keeps a general upward trend. It’s telling that the ending of 35 left a lot of balls in the air, but one clear question :”how’s Bucky going to do against Sin and the Serpent Squad.” This issue ends on a similar cliffhanger.

But, along the way, we continue the theme of exploring the differences between Bucky and Steve in the Captain America suit, which is really an exploration of who Captain America is. And with CA being the Marvel ideal of an American hero, this is ultimately an exploration of what a hero is.

And there are fight scenes!

It’s a great book. If you read superheroes at all, you should be reading this.

All-Star Superman #10, Morrison & Quitely. Morrison and Quitely’s illumination of Superman is thick with in-joke nods, but rich with heart. It’s also as good as anything out there in super-hero land. This issue continues to develop the “Superman is dying” plot that has driven much of the series (updating a classic “Last Will and Testament of Superman” story, of course), and showing us what Morrison and Quitely think is most important about Superman. It’s a slow, nuanced issue that still manages to build tension.

Young Liars #2, David Lapham. I didn’t like this issue much. I know it’s supposed to be kinetic and loud as a great punk song, but it just felt rushed and forced to me. I usually like Lapham, so maybe I was expecting too much.

Doktor Sleepless #6. Ellis & Rodriguez. Clearly bookending the first arc, this issue was a little too much fact and not enough plot and characterization for me. After the last couple issues where the characters seemed to breathe and move of their own accord so much, this felt very expository. There’s even a character summarizing the plot in bulleted lists, which is as clumsy as it sounds. Hopefully this is just a pause as the next arc kicks in the afterburners again.

Anna Mercury #1. Ellis & Percio. I’ve been picking up a lot of new first issues lately, it seems, and by and large they’re OK. Most draw me in enough to read another issue and see how things pick up. A few don’t hold me at all. A first issue is a really difficult thing to do right; even some of the most influential series around have mediocre first issues.

In Anna Mercury #1, Ellis and Percio show us how it’s supposed to be done. We’re dumped into the action taking place in an interesting world that’s shown to us in glimpses germane to the headlong action that the mysterious protagonist drags us excitedly into. There are enough familiar action/sci-fi tropes to lean on that we can barely keep our bearings even as we see where our protagonist violates those tropes. The issue winds to a cliffhanger that will draw us back for the next issue: How’s she getting out of this? And then the last page pulls 20 G’s zooming us up 30,000 ear-popping, mind-bending feet to where a hundred new questions scream at us while Anna’s still hanging from that cliff below.

If you can read this and not need to buy the next issue, you may want to stop buying comics altogether.

Comments are closed.