Hibbs on 10/28

It is like waiting for a bus around here, no one posts for a while, then BAM! three at once.

Let's look at a few books from this week, under the jump, shall we?

DETECTIVE COMICS #858: David's excellent post on Rucka's writing not withstanding, I was pretty blown away by the art on this issue. I mean, William's "painterly" work is excellent, but I couldn't believe just how well he channeled David Mazuchelli's "Batman: Year One" style for this not-so-named, but-clearly-Batwoman-Year-One-esque story. What a smart choice, and what an amazing job in working against his "natural" style. My only real criticism is the cover -- that's pretty ugly, and one of the very few times that i think the Variant cover simply looks better in every significant way. Either way, this is purely EXCELLENT work, and I'm looking forward to, say, 2015 when I get to buy the "Absolute Edition" of this wondrous comic.

X-NECROSHA & NEW MUTANTS #6: No, DC's not the only one running a "dead heroes come back from the dead, all evil and shit" storyline. I have to say that this feels jarringly out-of-tone to what I expect from X-Men stories, and it also seems needlessly complicated at this point in the "Utopia" storyline, but it worked adequately well. The big problem in "Necrosha" is just how many characters are running around, and how you need a scorecard to keep track of them. In the lead story they start off alright in identifying who is who, but about the middle of the issue a bunch of characters appear with no identification, almost as if they forgot. I had sort of the same problem with the Dark Avengers/X-Men crossover -- Fraction was awesome with those little twitter-esque summaries of the characters at the start (I felt like I could read a book that was really nothing but those), but as the story progressed that got dropped (or maybe written out with the idea of the eventual collection in mind.. which is maybe less than ideal with a company that has such a hard time keeping collections in print - and, anyway, in two years will anyone even remember the "Dark Avengers" at all?)

(Sidebar on that: I had a returning, lapsed reader come in the other day, asking me for Venom comics. I showed him classic collections [McFarlane, the Bendis USM bits, etc.], but they wanted something modern. Well, here's the current incarnation of Venom here in "Dark Reign: Sinister Spider-Man". "Uh, why is he called 'Spider-Man'?" I tried to explain the whole Norman Osbourne thing and the Dark Avengers, but he looked at me as if I was speaking Martian. There's also this one starring Eddie Brock... it is called "Anti-Venom". More blank stares. "So, you don't have any current Venom comics?" Well, these are Venom, they're just not called that exactly. "Maybe I'll come back later when I have more money" Sale lost, yay!)

Anyway, I do have to say that I pretty much love Zeb Wells take on Doug "Cypher" Ramsey in NM #6, and the notion that EVERYTHING is "language", and that Doug is actually pretty much 32 flavors of bad-ass. I specifically thought the "what they're REALLY saying" sequence was absolutely brilliant, and probably the best single piece of writing I've read this month. However, the art was pretty shit-tacular, especially with its lack of backgrounds, and primary-coloring. Yikes. Took what otherwise have been a VERY GOOD book down to, say, an OK, about the same I'd rate the NECROSHA one-shot itself.

DARK REIGN - THE LIST: PUNISHER: I discussed this a little already, that too often spin-off things from a main plot are way too often Red Skies-y -- Norman Osbourne says "I will kill this character", and at the end they're still alive with no verifiable difference in their status quo. In part this is also a problem with Marvel's marketing machine: they say that everything is an "11", but they're usually (say) a "6", and when you DO get that "11", no one hears the signal through all of the noise. The "Dark Reign- The List" branding has been a real flop for me, because there are 27 other books that all say "Dark Reign" on the cover -- but this one, this one was a real game-changer.

I have to say that I've thought that most of the "Dark Avengers" thing has been pretty floppish -- while it is a good high concept, they really haven't been doing too much that IS "dark", and 9 out of 10 times they just let the "good guys" get away, often in pretty contrived ways. Osborne doesn't seem to have a plan any more than the Cylons did, and so much of the past year in Marvel editorial has felt to me like wheel spinning.

So, you can color me shocked when (dark) Wolverine cuts Frank Castle into little tiny bite-sized bits and chucks them down a sewer. That's... different.

JRJR's art is impressively brutal -- I mean if you WANT to see Frank Castle butchered like a cow, that is the way to do it. I'm not really sure if I DO want that, all in all -- I've never really liked the Punisher except for maybe the Ennis years -- but this was the first time in a year (yeesh!) that the "Dark" part of the "Dark Avengers" has felt even a little bit right to me.

I also can't really say that I'm much interested in "FrankenCastle" as a concept, and, even more so, I have my severe doubts that this is what the audience for THE PUNISHER (especially in a "set in the Marvel U" title) is going to be interested in this new direction, even a little bit, but you have to give them points for trying out something completely new.

Despite my trepidations on the direction, I have to admit, I thought this was pretty GOOD in execution.

("Execution", heh)

HULK #16: Here's one that's absolutely going in the wrong direction completely. I mean, really, the only point that I could see in this book was in the mystery of "who is the Red Hulk", and that's not a strong enough premise to stretch out over like a year and a half, with apparently no end in sight. And now it's not enough that they still haven't resolved that mystery, but now they're piling MORE mysteries on top of that with the new Red SHE-Hulk, and the bits with Doc Sampson.

At Comix Experience, at least, this is turning into a commercial disaster -- I'm pretty certain we'll be into single digit sales on my next FOC order, which, considering how well "Hulk" Launched is really really bad -- we've lost something like 67% of the audience for Hulk, and if we compare it to, say, WORLD WAR HULK, we're rapidly approaching a 90% attrition.

The writing on this issue is gruesomely bad, pulling all of the lazy tricks of quoting from other things that I thought Loeb had abandoned after the "Our Worlds at War" Superman stories (that was the title, wasn't it? Too lazy to Google) -- Sun Tzu, the Parable of the Elephant, "my father got me to stop smoking by making me smoke an entire pack in an hour" blah blah blah it just really bugged me.

It also really bugs me that there's all of these characters running through the issue, and none of them -- NONE -- are identified or given plausible motivations, and other characters who had been in the story (Elektra or Domino) seem to have been written out between issues. That and the off-hand bullshit of "Oh, I killed Jen Walters", ugh.

Ian Churchill's art is weird here. In interviews, Loeb says that this is how Churchill has always wanted to draw, but that, for marketing reasons he changed his style to fit what the market said it wanted -- and now he's a big-foot cartoonist. It is... well, it is alright, but it isn't, I don't think, what anyone really wants from a Overly-Muscled-People-Punching-Things comic. The thing about "cartoony" art is that it needs to... hm, well move, I guess. Squash and stretch, having some independent energy of some kind, and this doesn't -- it is all pretty "dull" on the page, and blocky.

All in all this is a pretty AWFUL comic book, and it is leading into what might be the first "event" storyline ("Fall of the Hulks") in CE history where I'm ordering less than 10 copies for the racks. Yikes.

That's what I have for this week: What did YOU think?