Friday, September 16, 2011

Comics roundup for 9/14/11

Posted by Matt

Quick thoughts on Fear Itself 6, Ultimate Spider-Man 1, and some of Marvel's other releases...

FEAR ITSELF 6 - I know the Internet has been hating on Fear Itself for being poorly defined, but I actually thought the concept was a good one: a forgotten deity empowers some supertypes so they can scare the planet and he can feed off their bad vibes. The tie-ins have generally done a great job of fleshing out the impact of scaring their usually-brave protagonists, and the best have explored this as allegory for our American cynicism and despair. I see the main title as an outline for all the great tie-ins to hook into, and in general, just enough happens in each issue to keep me going.  This time, not so much.  We get ready to play Pimp My Avenger next issue, but I really wanted to get a teaser cliffhanger of the powered-up good guys, and most of this issue felt like building tension for that reveal. Good series, flat step, still looking forward to next month.

ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN 1 - The controversy is that in this alternate version of Spider-Man, Peter Parker died, and now Spider-Man is a half-Black, half-Latino guy named Miles Morales. This issue starts to set up his origin as an underprivileged kid who has some moral discomfort with a lottery to get into charter schooling. He gets bitten by a spider, but we don't really see a hint of superpower until the cliffhanger. I'm hooked in, and the art is great, but this is a very decompressed issue.  That's not bad in and of itself, but I hope this doesn't reset the trend from the mid 2000's when it would take six issues to get anywhere in a plot.

NEW AVENGERS 16 (Fear Itself) - In this issue, Brian Michael Bendis lets Daredevil take out a squad of Nazi robot-suits and then join the Avengers. I'm not opposed to him joining. He's a great character, and Bendis has written him very well in the past.  But I needed to see a little more about how exactly the blind guy managed to shoot everybody with a machine gun and then notice that a tower had fallen - if he can "see" just fine, what's the point of making him blind in the first place? Good issue, I'm just going to need to go a little slower on why this guy can do what he does (the opposite problem from Spider-Man, I guess).

BLACK PANTHER: THE MAN WIHOUT FEAR 523 (Fear Itself) - I did not like the preview of this series, and if I weren't such a damn hoarder about crossover tie-ins, I would never have picked this up. And I would have missed out. The Panther is still a character who doesn't interest me, but the villain of the piece, the American Panther, is this hilarious Tea Party xenophobe caricature, and this is exactly what I was wanting the tie-in concept to cover as an allegory. The dialogue doesn't do it for me, and the art is pretty stiff, but the concept is fantastic. I will not pick this book up now that the tie-in is done, but I'm very pleased with the couple of issues I read.

ALPHA FLIGHT 4 (Fear Itself) - The book gets a little more on-track with the bigger crossover here, which is fine by me but unnecessary when the writer and artist have such a great grasp of the characters and a respect for the previous volumes of this little team of Canadians that never-could. And the cliffhanger reveal of the villain behind it all is exactly who I was hoping it would be, so thanks, writers!

GHOST RIDER 3 (Fear Itself) - The new girl Ghost Rider is hijacked to set off a nuclear explosion of Hellfire and then try to hop on a space shuttle, which is exactly the kind of high-octane storytelling that comics do well. I'd like to see more connection to the Ghost Rider stories I loved in the Dan Ketch years, but I'm happy where we're at.

UNCANNY X-FORCE 15 - I was nervous about this one. Most of this Dark Angel Saga storyline had the team going through the Age of Apocalypse, and I never felt like the writer understood the original story. Last issue, however, took a wonderful dramatic swerve and set up Archangel as a chilling supervillain I hope will plague Marvel's mutants for years to come. This time around, we slip a little bit as the writer pulls out that obnoxious concept of The World as an artificial time accelerator, but Archangel continues to scare me, so I'm still on board.

DAREDEVIL 3 - The art is great, and the tone is still very light. This should please a variety of fans as it goes back to the original silly cavalier superguy, but I still nurse my grudge that the best gritty superhero around is getting this reboot. I want the exact same book, but recolor it a little and say that it's a new guy wearing the costume, and then I won't feel like such a sellout for liking it.

FEAR ITSELF: HULK VS DRACULA 1 - This mini is supposed to introduce the new team of supervampires, led by the Japanese vampire I kind of remember liking. And that's not bad, but the rest of the team doesn't feel distinct yet. Don't get me started on the Hulk parts; never really liked him, doubt I ever will.

FEAR ITSELF: THE MONKEY KING 1 - The origin story is that there was this guy who... I read this two days ago and can barely remember. I mean, it was fine. Light-hearted, easy to read. But it just feels inconsequential, and the dialogue felt very modern for something that was supposed to have happened decades ago. I think that if this character gets popular, it won't be too hard to find this issue again, so I can't recommend buying it yet.

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY 627 - We actually take a break from the regular story to tell a story about Mephisto, not involving any of the regular cast. Normally, that would bug me, but my understanding of the original book was that it was set up to tell interesting but disconnected stories, and this was certainly in line with that description. Mephisto came across as scary, funny, and charming, and I would love to see more stories just like this one.

X-MEN LEGACY 255 - I am mostly reading this story about the X-Men in space because they are rescuing some of my favorite characters (Polaris, Havok, and Marvel Girl). But my GOD, I wish they could be doing it faster because this story is pretty boring and the X-Men who got sent (Magneto, Rogue, Gambit, and Frenzy) are not holding my attention. Well, Rogue is, but I love her and probably always will.

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