Well, that'll learn me about posting from work. I started a post here, opened another browser window, and the browser bombed right out. This is how companies plan to win the productivity wars, I guess: by keeping their computers so underpowered they can't even access the Internet without exploding. Grumble, grumble.... Anyway, before someone sends me an email and crashes my entire desktop:
52 WEEK #30: Bringing back the Ten-Eyed Man was a fine bit of cheek, but the issue was un-fun and perfunctory in the extreme. First, the writers win me over to their slapdash and wack-a-doodle ways, and then they break out Batman soul-searching and plot-convenient cancer coughing? Eh, except for the cover which was weird and lovely.
BATMAN #659: Morrison-less, but better this than the book being delayed six weeks, right? Something about this issue reminded me of the Moench/Colan issues of Detective Comics (that was, what, late 400s?), where Batman got a new villain and a new love interest every three issues (and half the time they turned out to be one and the same). OK, because Mandrake and Ostrander are professionals, G-Mo's first Batman arc was a mixed bag, and I'm obviously a nostalgic slob.
BATMAN THE SPIRIT: As Graeme said, a goofy bit of fun with damn lovely illustrations and an opening sequence (Spirit and the collapsing logo) that sold me on the book. As it went on, however, I thought it suffered a bit from Loeb-itis (lazily glib comparisons and contrasts between the two heroes and their viewpoints, a rogue's gallery assembled for the flimsiest of reasons, super cheaty last minute switcheroos) and had just about worn out its welcome by the time it crossed the finish line. But I admit it was worlds better than I thought it'd be, and the stuff that did work worked very, very well, so I'll say Good--and if you've never read a single issue of Superman/Batman, you'd probably go even higher.
BLACK PANTHER #22: Either Civil War is bringing out the best in Hudlin, or he's getting better and better every issue. I thought this had a pretty good take on the Civil War and the characters and I'm more or less down with heavy-handed media commentary (that page where two different newsteams present the same crowd in completely different lights). Still, I'm mother-fuckin' tired of the mother-fuckin' Civil War--seeing Iron Man now gives me the exact same shudder and eye-roll I experienced whenever I saw an OMAC at about month two of IC. Enough already. OK.
CAPTAIN AMERICA #24: The art on this was really, really weird--like Mike Perkins was getting his eyes dilated every day before sitting down to work. I kinda thought he was rushing because he had some awesome double-page spread to focus on but when I got to that, it seemed borked too. It was great to see Arnim Zola, though, which is exactly the kind of Cap-fanboy comment that skews this to Good.
GREEN LANTERN #15: Normally, I like Ivan Reis's neo-Adams approach, but it was so dull here I expected every page turn to end in fruit pies being thrown. Actually, the issue was pretty damn dull overall: I had more fun entertaining the notion that, a la Reverse Flash, Star Sapphire is going to possess the annoyingly nicknamed Cowgirl and she'll become a new villainess called...Reverse Cowgirl! Really, that's how bored I was. Eh.
GUY GARDNER COLLATERAL DAMAGE #1: If you ask me, the only thing that stops Jog from being an unstoppably dead-on comics reviewing force of nature is that he's too nice. I picked this book up based on his review, and realize I am absolutely incapable of giving Chaykin the same benefit of the doubt as ol' Jog--seems to me H.C. is kinda trying, like late period Kirby, to create a standardized, simplified layout strong enough in its innate dynamism to allow the artist to skimp on detail and keep the pages coming quickly. Unfortunately, Chaykin has always downplayed the thinness of his line by the accumulation of detail and, without it, his work looks shaky. Like, mighty shaky. Like, I-felt-like-I-was-reading-this-book-in-the-backseat-of-a-moving-car shaky. Mix in a high price and a cavalier disregard for previous continuity (which, on the one hand, who cares, and, on the other, why not make this Gus Gooferson Collateral Damage then?) and you've got sub-Eh, as far as I'm concerned. Chaykin in his prime was a revelation and the man's got a right to make a living, but I can't endorse helping him pay the rent with this one.
IMMORTAL IRON FIST #1: If you want an unbiased review of this, read everyone else: they're the guys who are all "hmm, Iron Fist, yes, a third-rate Marvel character and I suppose for what's done here, it's done very well as it a c-lister potentially interesting..." But, see, I'm an Iron Fist fan and this is dangerously close to the Iron Fist book I've missed for close to thirty years, packed with lots of shout-outs to the stuff that made this great way back when. Rooftop fight in the midnight rain with ninjas, right out of Marvel Spotlight, only with Hydra and robomantises and better drawn? Check. Mysterious appearance of the Steel Serpent, complete with scar and black jumpsuit? Check. Potentially mystical forces operating behind the scenes, possibly by Iron Fist's own uncle? Checkity McCheck. Even if I wasn't an Iron Fist diehard, I'd recommend this because David Aja's work is dreamy and terrific. But since I am, and since this makes up for every asstacular previous attempt by people who clearly didn't give a crap about the character, this gets a relieved Very Good from me. May it sell jillions and bajillions of copies.
NEXTWAVE AGENTS OF HATE #10: Pretty great, particularly when Immonen goes berserk and starts drawing the Nextwavers' Forbush-Man inflicted alternate lives in the style of alternate comics (Machine Man by Clowes was easy to spot and hilarious, but but those Captain Marvel pages as if done by, I dunno, Farel Dalrymple, were funny and actually kind of affecting). The upside down church and the melancholic alternate lives all lead me to suspect this is Ellis giving Morrison a good-natured, bruise inducing nipple tweak, but that's the beside the point: This title has climbed back up to the Very Good pile and I hope it stays there 'til the end.
POWERS #21: Bendis shows Bendis how Bendis probably should have handled Secret Wars and/or Avengers: Dissembled. Hopefully, Bendis is taking notes. Very Good.
STAN LEE MEETS DR DOOM: Stan really doesn't have much to say in this one, and that, combined with the lovely "nothing-much-happens" art makes me think it was written in classic Marvel style, where the art's done first and Stan sits down with a shaker of vodka tonics to write the dialogue next. Also, weirdly, of the three Jeph Loeb books on the market this week, this is the only one where nobody says "Oy." Doesn't that just seem wrong, somehow? Oy--I mean, Eh.
SUPERMAN BATMAN #30: A shame to see such pretty work wasted on such a "who cares?" kinda script. If you told me this was a retooled JLA Classified story, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised. Eh-tastic.
WHAT IF WOLVERINE ENEMY OF THE STATE: Doesn't that title give you a headache? It needs a verb and an article in the worst way. As for the story itself, I liked how strangely Aeon-Fluxish the art looked, and the story had tons of cheap dramatic visuals (Captain America, Amputee, for example) and really dumb ideas (Wolverine, like some homicidal Bugs Bunny, apparently tunneled all the way to the secret island hideaway). In a way, very true to the originals What If books (most of which were also cynically morbid and hilariously stupid) but frankly most of them were sub-Eh, too.
PICK OF THE WEEK: IMMORTAL IRON FIST #1, yessir.
PICK OF THE WEAK: GUY GARDNER COLLATERAL DAMAGE #1, I guess. I certainly spent enough time bitching about it, anyway.
TRADE PICK: A lot of good stuff this week: Vol. 6 of BECK MONGOLIAN CHOP SQUAD continues to delight me, even though I gladly concede it seems a little lost once it took its main character to a new level, and ESSENTIAL MAN-THING TPB, which I haven't even begun to crack. But, as I recall, I also thought that PUNISHER MAX VOL 6 BARRACUDA TPB was one helluva story when it came out, too.
NEXT: God help us all, probably one more column as I mouth off about a few books I read during that month off, and review some of the manga I've been reading lately.