Below are brief reviews of some comics that came out between February 8th and 22nd, 2017. These aren’t all the comics I bought in that time, just those I got around to reviewing. Starting with this post I am including a category of all the comics on my pull-list to go along with those “on the bubble.” For daily reflections/examples of my comics purchasing see Notes From Comics Collecting on Tumblr.
This book is crazy, and good, and crazy good. But, the dog should have died. Steve Lieber’s art is the star of the comic book. The paneling, the figures, the expressions and visual pacing, all make Spencer’s script pop in ways that I few comics artists would be able to pull off. I know it is a boys-behaving-badly/terrible people type story, and those might be a little played out these days (I refuse to even try It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and I hate Archer), but I wonder why more folks in comics circles are not talking about this title. I figured that at the very least, those who have taken a dislike to Nick Spencer would have sought it out for thought crimes to report.
Hulk vol. 4, #3 (released 2/22)
Creative Team: Mariko Tamaki (writer), Nico Leon (artist), Matt Milla (color)
This book sure is taking its time. I am not sure I want a She-Hulk book without any She-Hulk, or any hulking out at all. I get that this book is trying to be a kind of meditation on trauma, and as such has a soft and disquieting touch, but some part of me wants some action after three issues of a superhero book. I don’t mean the “mysterious deaths” kind or even necessarily a big super punch-up – though I wouldn’t mind that- just some sense of progress or movement. I do like the art, especially Matt Milla’s colors and Leon’s strong inks, but the panel work leaves a lot to be desired – too many big panels for no discernible reason. I will give this book another issue or two, but it’s on the bubble.
Is there even any point to continue to laud the art in this series? As for the story, it takes a turn towards the quest-like, showing how the serial has succeeded shifting its narrative tone from fugitive story, to political machinations, to the current D&Dish feel of visiting a “bone island.” I also like how the monster inside Half-Wolf is becoming more of a character. The one thing that does throw me for a loop sometimes is the the abrupt shifts from the events in the world to the interior landscape of Halfwolf’s soul, but ultimately, I think these visual ruptures and how they resist closure are a form of productive disorientation.
Occupy Avengers #4 (released 2/22)
Creative Team: David Walker (writer), Carlos Pacheco (pencils), Rafael Fonteriz (inks), Wil Quintana (colors)
This is not a bad comic. In fact, it is a decent comic, good art, well-paced story, fun characterizations, but I am still dropping this book. I originally picked it up because I wanted to see how the premise was handled, and now I’ve seen that despite ostensibly being focused on localized problems, the comic’s growing team will nevertheless be drawn back into Marvel Universe mishegas (based on the foreshadowing at the end of the issue). But yeah, I did like the issue. It has a good sense of legacy, connecting to long time ideas in the MU (like LMDs) through classic versions of Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos. At the same time, however, the story was sloppy, the bad guys were generic and kind of ignored once defeated, and ultimately, the increasing sense I have that no Marvel series is going to last more than 15 or 20 issues anymore makes me not even want to start any. My recent post about the pleasure of the long-term comics serial explores this feeling, but I am getting closer and closer to dropping all current ongoing books except for those are are just clearly knocking it out of the park. So just “decent” isn’t gonna cut it anymore.
Power Man & Iron Fist vol. 3, #13 (released 2/8)
Creative Team: David Walker (writer), Elmo Bondoc (pencils, inks), John Rauch (colors).
This has got to be one of Marvel’s top five books right now in terms of quality of the plotting, pacing, art and characterization, and of course it is ending soon. Sad Christmas! David Walker will be starting a new Luke Cage book and there will be an Iron Fist solo book by someone else. I don’t plan to try either of them.
Sam Wilson: Captain America #19 (released 2/15)
Creative Team: Nick Spencer (writer), Angel Unzueta (pencils and inks), Arif Prianto (colors)
It seems like maybe this book is finally going where I want it to go, explicitly addressing the role of race and income inequality in the criminal justice system seems exactly like the kind of story Captain America of any color should be involved in, but especially African-American Sam Wilson (given that you can’t count on a white Captain America to know what’s up). Still, here I have the opposite feeling of what I had while I was reading Hulk #3. Everything moves too fast, a whole trial with multiple witnesses in one day, all of the details of arraignment, etc, skipped over, no chance to develop a sense of supporting characters, especially Rage’s family, given that he is the one in jail, no sense of his community’s building reaction. Instead, the issue ends with a young black boy throwing a Molotov cocktail at a bank in response to Rage’s conviction with not enough context to sell it. I said at the outset of this review that maybe this book is finally going where I want it to go, but I worry it is trying too hard to be a 70s era “urban folktale” in the tradition of Green Lantern/Green Arrow, and thus not using some of the decompression common to today’s comics in favor of a more nuanced take that earns the pathos it is attempting to evoke.
Man, I love this book. The writing and art are near perfect. Fun to look at, fun to read, and full of good feels.
The Mighty Thor vol. #2, #16 (released 2/15)
Creative Team: Jason Aaron (writer) Russell Dauterman (pencils, inks), Matt Wilson (colors)
This book is the shit. I love it. The art is wonderfully inventive and perfectly colored. The plotting and characters have the perfect balance of gravitas and absurdity. Aaron is doing a great job of exploring godhood in the Marvel Universe in the person of the new Thor. I don’t even know what to say about it, except you should be reading it.
All-New Wolverine #17 (released 2/8)
Creative Team: Tom Taylor (writer), Djibril Morissette-Phan (pencils, inks), Michael Garland (colors)
It may have a bad cover and feature Gambit as a guest for no good reason I can think of, but this remains a great comic. The fill-in artist was shaky in spots, but I like the focus on Laura’s psyche while maintaining a sense of action and suspense (something the new Hulk book could use a dollop of). Let’s hope Marvel doesn’t fuck things up and re-boot this title, too.
I finally decided to only get every other issue of this book. I am essentially skipping the “current era” storyline with lackluster art by Liam Sharp, a color palette that is dull as dirt and doom, and meta stories trying to navigate too many different iterations of Wonder Woman and her homeland and origins over the years. The other story line (the one in this issue), however, is fun and bright without sacrificing a sense of gravitas or what is at stake. It is amazing that Rucka is capable of writing two stories that seem so at odds. Maybe they are meant to appeal to different kinds of Wonder Woman fans. I don’t know. I know that this re-telling of the origin of her enemy Dr. Cyber is supposed to shed light on the events of the current era, but it does nothing to make the other one a pleasurable read. Maybe it’s the art that really ruins it, not allowing me a chance to appreciate the writing. My main complaint about the comic overall is that the story was only 20 pages long! Sure, at $2.99, Wonder Woman costs a buck less than most comics, but I still felt ripped off, especially when the comic book includes six pages of interview and preview art for Warren Ellis’s revival of Wild Storm, something I probably could not care less about and will surprised if it sells well even with comics fans’ seemingly endless capability for nostalgia and Ellis’s name attached.
Current Pull-List: DC: The Flintstones, Wonder Woman. Fantagraphics: Love and Rockets. Image: Bitch Planet, The Fix, No Mercy, Monstress, Paper Girls. Marvel: America, Black Panther, Sam Wilson: Captain America, Hulk, Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur, Ms. Marvel, Power Man & Iron Fist*, Silver Surfer, Spider-Woman, The Mighty Thor, Unworthy Thor*, All-New Wolverine.
On the Bubble: Hulk