January 9, 2015

The comics I've put into my brain

Here's what I've been reading...

  • Hawkeye: L.A. Woman - Matt Fraction, Annie Wu, and Javier Pulido are rocking Hawkeye. The artwork is brilliant, the stories are quickly engaging. The book is outstanding. Here we don't even see Clint Barton after the first couple of pages in which Kate Bishop (a kind of Hawkeye Jr, Lady Hawkeye) tells Clint off and bugs off for the left coast where she resolutely refuses to take her father's financial support, hangs up her shingle for private detective work, and finds herself investigating a series of (not shockingly) interwoven cases, all of which were set into motion by Kate's past with Madame Masque. Definitely a series to start reading if you aren't already. Apparently these issues were interwoven in the regular series with Barton-specific issues. So said Matt Fraction, himself.
  • What If by Randall Munroe - I firmly pledge myself to the cult of Randall. I've been reading his What If column online for a while now (not quite since the beginning but for a fair while) and dig his 'serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions' as illustrated by xkcd-style stick figure drawings. Randall's particular style delves into the ridiculously and well educatedly scientific answers to the absurd questions asked by his readers. This book reprints the majority of columns he's published online and adds in a few new ones (particularly the outstanding-for-my-class 'What if you tried to build a periodic table made of brick-sized chunks of each corresponding element?' which doesn't seem to be available online, sadly) and a smattering of questions that he entertainingly rejects from the realm of the answered. Yes, most of the questions are available for free online, but there's enough new content and updates here and there (barely noticeable if Randall didn't necessarily point them out in the always entertaining footnotes) that the book is worth a buy. I will at least be copying/scanning the periodic table answer for future reading in chem class.
  • Ms Marvel vol 1 -  The artwork's outstanding - and refreshing, reminiscent of Triplets of Belleville. The story's a blast and brilliantly representative of a a teenager trying to find her way. I can't speak to the teenager trying to find her way in a foreign land, but if Marvel can keep publishing this line - and we (not me, honestly) can keep buying enough of these issues to keep them being published - then we'll be doing some good. And it helps that the writers are telling a hell of a story along the way.
  • Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol 5 - The cover of this volume is an homage to Amazing Spider-Man #50 in which Peter Parker hung up the Spider-Man costume in the first of many crises of conscience. Here Mile Morales goes through a similar crisis after his mother dies because of the actions that come to him because his Spider-Man identity. In the course of this volume, Gwen Stacey, Mary Jane Watson, Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew), Miles's friends, and even the Ultimates convince him to pick up the mantle again because he, of course, has great power so he must have great responsibilities. It could be a very hokey arc, but it works well in Bendis's hands, something that doesn't surprise me at this point. After Miles puts the costume back on, he helps Spider-Woman and the newly-introduced Cloak and Dagger to take down Roxxon, a facelessly-evil corporation that helped create the various heroes. Good stuff...don't
Pretty Good
  • Uncanny X-Men: Vol 1 Revolution - Holy crap! The X-Men have split into different teams with different philosophies and missions! And each team has taken on a different visual identity with new costumes for everybody! It's moderately interesting, but it's ground that has been tread so many times that it's not remotely new - nor does it promise any sort of lasting change. Volume 2: Broken is decently better, and the artwork is really coming into its own and starting to impress me, particularly in the very first issue of the second collection, in which the team heads to Limbo to take on the dread Dormammu. Go, Chris Bachalo!
  • Morning Glories (vol 1 -7) - Seriously, I read all seven so-far-published collected volumes of Morning Glories. I'd heard some good things about the series, and all seven were sitting right there on the shelf at the Sharonville PLCH branch. The story certainly begins interestingly enough with the soon-to-be-known-as Glories arriving to the exclusive, private, boarding school and finding that things there are a little more cut-throat and deadly than they would have been at any previous schools. From there we delve into time travel, Spy-vs-Spy crosses and double-crosses, deaths and resurrections, cyclical dealings that themselves lead into their own initiating events, and unexplained motives and origins.

    In all honesty, I found the first few volumes of the series absolutely fascinating and read them voraciously. Then the plot kept not explaining things - how people came back from the dead, the origins/identify/motives of the unseen Headmaster, where the heck things were going, how the titular Morning Glories Academy continued to exist as they picked off their students one by one - and I'm officially giving up now. My guess is that it's pretty interesting, but the writers are taking far too long to get to wherever they're going.
  • Batman: Detective Comics vol 3 Mad - I'm of two minds here on one side, there's the interesting story arc of the Mad Hatter trying to recreate his one, perfect day as a young man and kidnapping half of Gotham to make it happen. It works. It's interesting. It gives Jervis Tech a much more interesting backstory than he's had before. It also works to give Jervis some 'super powers' via the various teas that he ingests/drinks/blows into Batman's face.

    The problem with this volume is that Batman falls in love, considers giving up being Batman, reveals his identify to another woman. She, of course, dies and ends up being bait to draw Batman into Tech's trap. And in the next issue, it's back to Batman of old with no romantic entanglements. Seriously, to how many women has Batman revealed his secret identity through the years?
  • Batman And Robin vol 1-4 - This is the first time I can remember a Batman & Robin series actually being about Batman & Robin. Yeah, there have been series with that title before, and they've told stories that involved Batman & Robin, but they weren't about the relationship between Batman and - in this case, his son - Robin. It's an interesting turn to see Batman trying to be a father to Damien - both in his role as Batman and as Bruce Wayne, leading Damien to be a better man and a better Robin. Then Damien dies (in a different series, admittedly), and the series shifts with Batman trying to deal with his loss. It's actually really interesting and well written.
  • Batman '66 -  meh...there's nothing particularly wrong with this volume - in fact, the artwork's pretty good and stylish and colorful, entirely truthful to the spirit of the original 1966 television show. There's also nothing particularly right about the series, either. The set pieces are far more elaborate than anything that the television show could ever manage, but that doesn't necessarily make for magically great stories. They're fine. They just don't interest me too much.
  • Batman/Judge Dredd Collection - This is a collection of four stories, the first three of which see Judge Dredd crossing over into Gotham and dealing with Batman. (Weirdly, the last issue sees Dredd crossing over with Lobo, the most 90s of DC characters - no Batman to be found anywhere in that one.) The art style is interesting, very much unlike things seen in typical comic books and much more Vertigo, dark, sketchy. Kinda fun for a while, but the stories didn't interest me.
  • Batman: Detective Comics vol 2: Scare Tactics -  This is crap. Horribly violent, ridiculously and almost comedically angry Batman. Blech...
  • Hulk: Dark Son - I could not be more tired of the entire Hulk family (Red Hulk, She-Hulk, Abomination, Skaar, Hiro-Kala, Lyra). Actually, it's the utterly inconsistent and whimful characterization of all of the characters that I'm tired of. Every character switches from angry to helpful to sad to rational to badonkers crazy and back again in the space of seemingly every couple of panels. I miss the Hulk that only wanted to be alone.

No comments: