Friday, August 03, 2007

Semi-weekly comics round-up

Amazing Spider-Man 542
Back in Black has always been about how far Peter can be pushed, and how far over the edge he’s willing to go. This issue capped that for me beautifully. His battle against the Kingpin was everything it should have been – intense and scary and personal. It wasn’t about Spider-Man and the Kingpin. It was about a superpowered Peter Parker going after the man who tried to kill his Aunt and wife.

Spider-Man really should be scary. For one thing, he’s a humanoid spider. That’s just scary and creepy. Most of us are scared of spiders – and there’s a good reason for that. A small spider can kill a man. Peter Parker is a 6’ tall spider, with a human’s reasoning. (And a smart human at that.) He also holds back most of the time, because he really doesn’t want to hurt anyone.

Wilson Fisk realized what kind of enemy Spider-Man can actually be in this issue. And I loved every bleeding second of it.

Teen Titans 49
I haven’t been reading Amazons Attack, and I really don’t feel like I’m missing much. This issue confirmed that for me.

The Titans, with the assistance of Supergirl and Wonder-Girl had to fight the Amazons while trying to rescue Cassie’s mother. The US military was involved too. I thought it was all a bit pointless, honestly. An attack against the Man’s World by the Amazons could be really interesting – doing it in the midst of Countdown was a waste of a good story idea.

Honestly, I wouldn’t even mention this comic in my abbreviated round-up, except for one thing.

Earlier in the new run of Teen Titans, Robin and Wonder-Girl has a brief hint at a romance forming between them. Cassie firmly pulled away from this. Both Cassie and Tim are seriously grieving the death of Connor (as am I, to tell the truth), but this issue ends with an impassioned plea for Wonder-Girl to remain with the Titans, and a big kiss between the two. I can understand that grief can bring people together – but it just feels too soon to me. Connor was Tim’s best friend. Connor was the one that Cassie lost her virginity to. Neither one should be moving on this quickly. And if (though I think when) Connor returns, this will end poorly for all three.

The Mighty Avengers 4
I’ve had issues with the Mighty Avengers – a fact which deeply disturbs me. I like the Avengers. I like Bendis as a writer. But the tone of this book has consistently felt off, something all the more disappointing since the New Avengers is going so well. I think it might be the thought balloons. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen those in comics, so that might be part of it. But I think it’s more the fact that the thought balloons seem to be editorial – the opinions and snide comments of the author – and not really appropriate to the character they are coming from.

I’m also not digging “Fembot Ultron”, for any number of factors. The idea that this thing was built out of Tony Stark is disturbing, and pointless, since it would affect continuity in every other comic being published by Marvel at the moment. It won’t last. The idea that Ultron would model its body after Janet Van Dyne is perhaps appropriate. But why make her bustier and run around mostly naked? It’s sexuality in comics for the sake of sexuality – something all the more pointless because Janet is already a sexual character.

The actual plot of this issue is hardly worth mentioning as well. Ultron is controlling the Iron Man armors as part of its plot to destroy humanity. And to neutralize the Sentry, who potentially is the most powerful hero in the Marvel Universe that routinely lives on earth, it personally and nastily goes after his wife. I want to care, but I just don't.

Green Arrow: Year One 2
I wasn’t thrilled about Issue 1 of this comic, and I still remain, at least mostly, unimpressed. The story is slightly more engaging, perhaps because of a stronger narrative voice for Ollie, something that made the latest run of Green Arrow very enjoyable. But it still feels a bit pointless and trite.

So far he's managed to learn to make a bow, keep warm, find bodies - oh, and alert the killers who use this island as a hideout to his presence. Not good.

I want to read this and feel like I’m seeing the evolution from spoiled rich fop into a hero. But I don’t. At most I feel like I’m seeing how he became a survivor. It did the job well enough for me to grab Issue 3 next month, but I’m still not loving this series. If I didn’t like Ollie so much, I suspect that I’d be ready to drop the comic as of now.

World War Hulk 3
A few posts back, I raved about how great World War Hulk has been. While some of the comics in the run have been less than fabulous (Gamma Force, anyone?), as a whole it still doesn’t disappoint. World War Hulk 2 continues the breakneck pace set with the first issue, and remains just as fun as ever. General Ross comes after the Hulk with the full US Military at his command, right up to using adamantium bullets. Dr. Strange continued to try to get into the Hulk’s head, and we got to really get an idea of how angry Bruce/the Hulk is. Interestingly enough, I’m beginning to think that this really is a merged personality of Bruce and the Hulk, despite never being claimed as such. Either that, or Banner has retreated into his own mind, and doesn’t ever want to really come back out.

Interestingly, I find myself approving of the Hulk’s use of the gladiatorial control discs on Earth’s heroes – especially those responsible for his banishment. I know I loathed Planet Hulk, and I still do, but considering what happened to Bruce, I think the punishment is only fitting. Now, I’m not quite sure what’s up with the potion Strange drank, and his conversion into “Strange Smash”, but I think this is only going to lead to more intense physical pain for the Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme.

New Warriors 3
I’ve always liked comics about teen superheroes finding their place in a world of established legends. While there have been a few that never drew me in (mainly anything tied to the X-Men), as a whole, if it was about teenage heroes dealing with teenage issues while saving the world, I was there. Teen Titans, Young Avengers, Young Justice, New Warriors – I was always there.

I’m not sure why this is, exactly. Maybe it’s because it was as a teen that my love for superheroes solidified (since I was able to regularly afford comics and keep up with storylines). Maybe it’s because superheroics really are an adolescent fantasy. It’s easier to cope with the idea of figuring out how one is a superhero if one doesn’t have a family to take care of. Or maybe it’s just because the figuring out how to be a hero is more interesting than already being one.

In any case, I love my teenage superheroes. But I’m really not caring for this run of New Warriors at all. It almost feels like it’s trying too hard to be “urban”. It’s also just so dark – and I don’t care for that at all. Furthermore, it just feels a little weird. Dwayne is a manipulative jerk, but he does ultimately care about folks. This doesn’t feel like that – it feels like it’s about ego. Both Thrasher’s, and the egos of those on the team. Jubilee was totally nailed by the accusation of what this was about, even if she didn’t admit it. And Logan’s talk with her reinforced it. I suspect we will see disagreement between Jubilee and Thrash over the direction of the team. And soon.

Now, what I’d really like to see would be for Penance and the Thunderbolts to be assigned to take out the Warriors. But more likely, we’ll see the Initiative sent after them in return for their vandalism of SHIELD. Or at least someone will see it. It may not be me. As with some other books this round up, they’ve got me for a few more issues, but I’m close to dropping this book already.

I actually did enjoy some comics these past two weeks, believe it or not. But with the exception of Amazing Spider-Man and World War Hulk, it seemed more pressing to talk about the disappointments than the ones that delivered.

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Anonymous sir jorge said...

great post, great comic blog!

11:34 PM  

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