I admit it--I'd kinda thought I would post a round of capsule reviews for the anniversary, then I thought, eh, maybe I should hold off for my actual anniversary of appearing on the site? (which is something crazy like May, 2002--which doesn't sound right to me at all...) And I was/am a little burnt, what with podcast editing and this other SC-related thing I worked on today. However, since Graeme was kind enough to post...let's see what I can come up with after the jump, shall we?
UNCANNY X-FORCE #9: Ugh, that stunk up the joint, didn't it? I actually didn't mind Tan's first issue--the inker did some kind of crazy magic to make it feel not unlike the amazing four or five issues or so--but this was genuinely terrible. To be fair, though, I've seen elephant vaginas tighter than the scripting in this story so I don't know if any artist could've made this work. (David Aja? Jim Steranko? Bernie Krigstein?) It could've been a kinda okay eight pager, but for whatever reason, Remender thought he'd blow it out to twenty-two fucking pages. Good will can be earned and good will can be spent--it says something to how much I enjoyed the first half-dozen issues of this title that I can consider this issue a big old pile of CRAP and yet still be kinda looking forward to next issue. Please don't break my heart, gentlemen.
FF #2 and #3: Speaking of squandering good will, did you catch those two pages in FF#2 where Valeria mentions Doom needing a back-up of his brain and then waiting for Doom to catch on? That same panel, ten times, spread across two pages, with only minor changes to Doom's and Reed's heads on two panels. Easily the most convincing case made yet for bumping comics back to 20 pages. (By the way, what is it with Marvel writers and their obsessions with brain back-ups? (I'm thinking of here, Fraction's Iron Man, and I'm sure there's another bit I'm forgetting.) I'm secretly convinced there's some kind of weird anxiety about identity going on with the writers in that place if they keep coming back to personality as something you can plug and play at will. (Oh, and the future is a big scary place--all of it seems predicated on the idea that there are big scary things coming down the pike and the only thing that will save us is being able to whip out a USB stick with a better version of ourselves on it. Is this what it means to be a freelancer with a mortgage during the peak oil/global warming era?)
As for FF #3, it finally answered some questions and I thought did so in a relatively clever way. Should that cancel out the fact I found it pretty obvious and everything still seems predicated on an exasperating passivity on the part of the FF? I'm gonna give #2 an AWFUL and #3 an OK. The Internet would probablygrade these a little higher, I admit.
AXE COP BAD GUY EARTH #3: You know that old screenwriting dictum, "show, don't tell?" I'm wondering to what extent superhero comics used to function as a weird, unholy mix of showing and telling--the narrator in superhero books from the '50s, '60s, and '70s was pretty much omnipresent and it allowed the story to zip from scene to scene, from event to event, with the writer telling you stuff and the artist showing you stuff. It led to some inelegant storytelling (as, say, in the panels here where Bear Cop buys a cup of zombie blood, drinks it, and becomes Zombie Bear Cop, then eats the President and becomes President Zombie Bear Cop) but, on the other hand, it allowed for some motherfucking economy.
As a result, this issue has Shabaccus, a monster that can fly and shoot lava out of his feet and has machine gun ears, an evil fat lady who bounces around and smashes dogs with her huge bottom "and fire farts on them," the bad guy axe cop team, the death of axe cop's team, yo-you man, a squish machine, a battle in the Age of Swords with two psychic brothers armed (unfairly) with machine gun jetpacks, Rat Cop, Axe Cop Lava Bull, and the President of All Presidents. THIS IS ALL IN ONE ISSUE. (AND I LEFT STUFF OUT!) Fear Itself and Flashpoint are currently running a distant third to me behind Axe Cop Bad Guy Earth. And while that sounds kinda dumb, I feel like "Hey, remember when everyone was all excited about the return of Big, Dumb Ideas? They don't come much bigger or dumber than this." I enjoyed this miniseries from start to finish and really gotta rank it in the upper end of the VERY GOOD spectrum.
BATMAN INC. #5 and #6: And this is where things gets tricky--because if I rate Batman Inc. by the same standards I rank Axe Cop Bad Guy Earth, then it should also be in the VERY GOOD spectrum, right? I mean, you've got a guy in a wheelchair and a Mexican wrestler's mask being punched, a member of "Her Majesty's Super Secret Service," a chick named in a modified helmet, swimsuit and laser scorpion tail called Scorpiana, Dr. Dedalus, Leviathan...and that's all just issue #5.
But, I dunno. You ever have a friend fuck with the balance on your stereo while a song is playing? You know, bounce the sound from one set of speakers to the next and back in time to the music? I almost feel like Morrison is doing something like that with Batman, Inc. where he pushes what the artist shows, and then entirely drops the sound out of what he as writer tells, and then will crank the shit out of the tell side of things while barely giving you enough show to hang your hat on. There are probably lots of good reasons why he's doing it--to keep us off-balance, to break up the rhythm of his own storytelling patterns--but it just kind of leaves me headachy and cross and waiting for David Uzumeri to tell me why I should give a shit. Is it that my expectations are higher for a Batman comic than for Axe Cop? (And if so, why?) Or just that I'm an old, old man incapable of zipping up my pants without catching the hairs of my gray, waist-long old man beard? I wish I could say. But either way, I feel squirrelly giving these issues anything more than just an OK.