Take back your Marvel! Ay!: Graeme looks at the House of Ideas for 5/9.

There's this crazy song called "South America, Take It Away!" on the radio right now, by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters that is entirely distracting. The four of them are singing "Take back your samba! Ay! Your rhumba! Ay! Your conga! Ay-yi-yi!" and it's one of those things that makes you actually stop, listen to the song and think, people got away with writing things like that?

Anyway; the cat is beside me and dehydrated and sullen, but she's stopped throwing up for awhile, which is nice. Taking advantage of the break in vomit, let's talk Marvel books.

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #540: Well, the art's nice, so that counts for something, right...? That's about the most positive thing I can say about this issue, because the writing is pretty horrendous; Peter Parker as revenge-driven badass who's willing to kill isn't something that you can sell easily to me, and J. Michael Straczynski does one of the worst possible jobs of selling it imaginable, especially when you factor in a Mary Jane who also, apparently, wants Peter to go and beat people up. Maybe twenty years ago, when grim and gritty superheroes were the in thing, this may have seemed more interesting, but right now? Eh.

ANNIHILATION SAGA: I read this because I didn't read the actual Annihilation series but read lots of positive reviews. Maybe, I figured, this recap would give me a taste of what I'd missed. If that's the case, then I missed a convoluted space opera with characters with ridiculous names (Paibok the Delinquent? Really?) that seems pretty uninvolving. I'm guessing that it was all in the execution, because this wasn't much beyond Eh in plot terms.

BLACK PANTHER #27: Unlike Hibbs, I've got no problems with this book becoming Fantastic Four II for the next few months, but I just wish that it could be a more coherent Fantastic Four II. This issue seems to have ADD, introducing plot elements without really exploring them (If the Negative Zone prison from Civil War is being overrun by hungry insects, shouldn't that be, you know, a big deal?) before switching to an entirely different - and, let's face it, kind of unnecessary - plot for the cliffhanger. It's as if Reginald Hudlin is trying out potential ideas in front of you, trying to see if he can come up with something he likes, and failing. Another Eh, I'm afraid; it's not bad, it's just not good, either. It's just there.

MARVEL ZOMBIES: DEAD DAYS: There's a point in this prequel to the surprise hit of last year when you can almost see Sean Philips decide to go with a simpler art style (It's page 6, if you're wondering - There's more detail and care in the work in the first few pages; maybe deadlines got tight?), and it seems to be an omen for the book itself. There's just no there there - If you've read the original miniseries, then you literally know everything that happens here - and not enough humor to make it a worthwhile recap, either. Kirkman seems another writer who seems to have fallen for the "Reed Richards - Scientific Douchebag" meme, as well... Hasn't anyone else read any of the same Fantastic Four comics as I have? Did I grow up in an alternate universe where this was better than yet another Eh?

NEW AVENGERS #30: Bri, Jeff and I were talking about Bendis in the store the other day, and we all agreed that even when Bendis's books aren't any good, that they're always interesting - He's one of those rare writers that keeps pushing himself, which is always worth paying attention to even if you don't care for the direction in which he's pushing himself. All of this comes from Brian's review of this book on Friday, where he says that Bendis has finally taught himself how to write a team book, and he's not wrong. Maybe more interestingly, he's taught himself how to write two team books - this and Mighty Avengers both do the same thing in different ways, and that's something that follows through into the Mighty team's appearance in here, which seems curiously the same but different from how they appear in their own book. Anyway, this issue is also another rare Marvel book that makes me think that (a) Civil War wasn't a complete waste of time (Bendis makes the underground aspect and chaos work here) and (b) there's more than just crazy last-minute plotting going on here. Very Good, even before I get to the return of Clint Barton...

NOVA #2: Also the other day, Hibbs gives me this book: "Have you read it? You should." Lester chimes in: "It manages to take the dick Tony Stark and the hero Tony Stark and find a middle ground." Given my weird and irrational dislike of post-Civil War Iron Man, that was enough to sell me on it, and you know what? He's right. Maybe it's the freshness that comes from the outsiders' perspective on the "new" Marvel Universe, maybe it's the mix of melodrama and dumb supervillainy, but this is way better than the first issue, and a pretty successful attempt to join Civil War and Annihilation together and make both of them matter. Who knew that this would actually be Good?

PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL #7: I don't know how many times I'm going to end up saying that this is better than it has any right to be before I accept that maybe it's just a Good book... but, again, this should be a mess; the Punisher deals with neo-Nazis trying to kill immigrants while also trying to steal back the legacy of Captain America from the Hate Monger. Sounds really, really bad, right? But somehow, Matt Fraction's mix of sincerity and humor pulls through and makes me ignore the entirely-distracting 3D-generated backgrounds in Ariel Olivetti's artwork. I keep expecting to read an issue and finally think, "That's it! I've had enough!" but it's not happened yet...

I have to agree with Bri's assertion that post-Civil War Marvel seems to have more direction and success (storywise) than post-Infinite Crisis DC, but I also wonder how much of that is still going to be the case in a few months...