Getting Hibbsy with 10/31

Ugh, I’ve missed too many weeks of reviews here, let’s get this back on track! A PLUS X #1 NOW: Finally another ”Marvel NOW!” title ships… and it is the low-to-no plot title. “AvX: VS” was a cute side project for the main AvX comic (and could be, I think, argued that it was often much better than the comic with the actual plot), but I have a hard time seeing this concept sustainable as an ongoing monthly.  As always, things that work out as a joke idea generally can’t survive being stretched out to ongoing status, and I think the low-to-no-plot content is going to not help that one tiny bit. The execution of this issue? Totally competent, but I suspect people are looking for a bit more than “competent” for a $3.99 monthly series. I thought it was EH.

ACTION COMICS ANNUAL #1: Sholly Fisch (Whose name, have I said out loud?, sounds like a golden Age DC Comics writer) takes the big chair here, and the result is perfectly respectable.  Actually, what I found interesting was just how much this comic resembled the basic plot of SUPERMAN EARTH ONE v2 – sudden powers given to someone that Superman must stop, but can’t touch physically lest his own powers be removed; end of comic, villain goes to work for military, which is trying to figure out a way how to kill Superman – also out this week. I think this annual did the story much much better, and it was highly OK.

ANGEL & FAITH #15: I mostly bring this issue up because the back half of it is illustrated by David Lapham, a general rarity these days, much to my sorrow. Isn’t it just nuts that STRAY BULLETS is not in print? Crazy crazy making. Anyway, yeah, ANGEL & FAITH is generally more readable than BUFFY and this issue is no exception, even if it reads a smidge like a fill-in with its two-story structure. Still? GOOD.

AQUAMAN #13: Fourteen issues later, and it’s still all about TELLING us that Aquaman is good, without really SHOWING it. Scowly-Anger-Man is, I guess, a form of characterization, but I’m still not really certain just WHY he’s so pissed off about everything. The only one calling Aquaman lame is the writer of this comic (and they do it again, here, fourteen issues in). Were I paying cash for comical books, this issue would mark me as “Done”, but I work in a comics store, so I quite imagine I’ll read the next issue as well, and not really enjoy it very much either. EH.

BATGIRL ANNUAL #1: I found the painted art (mostly by Admira Wijaya) to be a little too, dunno, paperback cover-like, maybe? Too stiff, too posed, and largely unable to properly render anything too “fantastic” (like Catwoman’s mask, or the perfectly proportioned bandages on SheTalon’s face, and I’m pretty sick of Court of Owls-related stuff at this point, but otherwise, this annual was perfectly OK.

BEDLAM #1: It’s kind of an Arkham Asylum / Joker pitch with the serial numbers filed off in which, at least if I’m following this correctly, the Joker becomes a “good” guy at the end – it carried me right along in its world, which is what a comic is supposed to do, so let’s add this to the rapidly growing pile of intriguing Image comics – I’ll go with VERY GOOD, I think, and, hey, you can buy it on our digital store!

CAPTAIN MARVEL #6: Among the many reasons I am not an editor of comic books is not really understanding why you would launch a book with as distinct of an artist as Dexter Soy, then drop him out before the end of the first arc for someone like Emma Rios (who is a swell artist, but nothing whatsoever like Soy in style or tone). Nor, for that matter, why you would jam out those 6 issues in three and a half months. Especially if your artist can’t keep that schedule, apparently? Also: I’d never ever have made the first arc a time travel story, especially with a (sorry) B-level character like Cap who needs to be “reintroduced” to the Marvel U – you don’t make that work by taking the character OUT of the (modern) Universe. Add it all up, and it’s not any kind of surprise we’re already down to single digit sales on this title from just under 30 sold of issue #1. But the worst part of it all, the very worst part? I really thought this wrap up chapter was quite good, and, I think, ended up making Carol’s “secret origin” a much stronger one. I thought this issue was VERY GOOD, too bad I’ll end up being subs only by issue #12 at the rate things are going.

EC KURTZMAN CORPSE O/T IMJIN AND OTHER STORIES HC EC WALLY WOOD CAME THE DAWN AND OTHER STORIES HC : Sadly, deeply, amazingly disappointed in these – purely because they’re in black & white. I was strongly hoping for something like the Carl Barks reprints, with that nice flat coloring, and I was absolutely committed to replacing out my EC library (which consists of all of the Gemstone reprints, the ones that are literally four issues of the comics, covers, ads and all, glued together into an outercover) for handsome FBI reprints… but, ugh, I don’t want them in black and white. The solicitation copy, the press releases, really bury the fact that these aren’t in color, which I kind of find borderline dishonest. This is now the second attempt at upscale packaging for the ECs in a row that gets it wrong (the last HC set had new, shiny, color, ew!), which just hurts. I think I’m going to have to cut my orders on the next set of books by like 80% -- even “Nostalgia Guy” (my name for him) turned up his nose at them when he spied them on the rack. It’s too bad, because these ARE handsome hardcovers, and those spines are going look AWESOME together on the shelf, and it is really smart to collect the ECs by artist and genre – but they’re simply not how I want these stories archived in my library. I love the EC comics, and they really do deserve to be there for a wider audience, but I’d encourage you to have your LCS to try ordering the Gemstone “Annuals” – about ¾ of them are still in print, but Diamond never really advertises the fact. I stumbled across them doing a trawl of Diamond’s inventory, in fact. But those are flat color on newsprint, which is kind of how those books SHOULD be presented. I also don’t like how this edition doesn’t note which specific comics which specific story comes from. I would have preferred a Table of Contents more like a DC Archives edition, which even gives you month/year. *sigh* For the outer packaging, and the underlying work, I wanted to give a VERY GOOD, or an EXCELLENT, but this B&W edition makes me say EH, instead.

GHOSTS #1: Here’s a happy surprise – I kind of flat-out loved this anthology, as virtually every story was stellar. The other thing I really liked is that with the exception of the Phil Jimenez story, I feel like I could hand this comic over to Ben to read at 9 years old, just like its 70s predecessor. That’s the most awesome thing of all, and I think that they should continue that into the future with Vertigo Anthologies. Get that “Suggested for mature readers” off the cover, says I! The only story I really didn’t like? The “Neil Gaiman’s Dead Boy Detectives” which they decided to bill on the cover instead of Geoff John’s first Vertigo work (which I kind of found odd) – the problem is that it isn’t a full story, at all, and “too be continued, somewhere, eventually” is a big fail in an anthology book. I’m also growing more and more convinced that Al Ewing is The Real Deal, and I really loved his kick off story. And presenting the pencils-only from the Joe Kubert story was kind of touching and cool. Yeah, so: VERY GOOD.

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE THE ORIGIN OF SKELETOR #1: You also want to know from surprising? LOVED this. I don’t care for/about MotU at all, and their backstories never seemed any deeper than, dunno, a marketing interns stab at creating a fantasy world (Though, really, what else can you do when you have characters named things like “Stinkor”), so when Joshua Hale Fialkov actually manages to build a backstory that is reasonably compelling, then said story is drawn by Frazier Irving (!), then, hokey smokes, you’ve got a horse race. I was loving this right up to the last page when it says something like “And, so, your name is….SKELETOR!” and then I remembered it was a MotU comic. Aw! Still, this really was surprisingly VERY GOOD.

POPE HATS #3: Ooh, and this was even better. Ethan Rilly is going from strength to strength with this comic, and, damn it, I wish I could still sell issue #1 because we should be picking up readers for this great slice of life story about two room mates with very different career paths. Straight up terrific cartooning, and I would call it “Excellent” except for that pesky $6.95 cover price. Ow. So, knocking a grade off for that: VERY GOOD.

Looks like I’m out of time for the week – time to go pay bills! (yay?)

As always, what did YOU think?