The Good, The Bad, & The Meh by Alex Correa
As we know, in the weekly comic reading world there is a bit of good, a lot of bad, and A LOT of, well, meh. As such I'll put aside my game of Avengers Alliance (available only on Facebook, please add!) to sort through mostly all of this month's funnybooks and categorize what I find good, bad and meh. "Meh," for those of you not used to basic internet lingo, means something ranging from okay to mediocre. Here we go:
The Good:Avengers 24.1 (Brian Michael Bendis & Brandon Peterson)
Due to the fact that the big name super-hero comics (Avengers, X-Men, etc.) jump from major crossover to major crossover, there is usually a staggeringly high number of subplots that just go unresolved. Luckily, Avengers 24.1 (I still can't wrap my head around the whole decimal thing) resolves one that may not seem that crucial but has the potential for good storytelling: the sudden reappearance (read: resurrection) of the classic Avengers character, the Vision. In this issue, we see him come to terms with his death at the hands of She-Hulk, who was being controlled by his former wife and ex-heroine the Scarlet Witch. One thing I did not expect was how much humanity Bendis injected in the android character of the Vision, as ironic as it sounds. In this self-contained story he shows forgiveness, anger, regret and a vulnerability that most mainstream books are lacking, if I'll be honest. Even Magneto is written as a reformed villain as he should be, rather than just a former villain with a complete change of heart and attitude. One major problem I had was Brandon Peterson's artwork. It just doesn't work for me. His facial expressions to his anatomy to his body language, it all looks very weird, and it's not a style issue. His artwork just looks very ugly. That's about as succinct as I could put it. But overall, it was one of the top books of the month.
New Avengers 23 (Brian Michael Bendis & Mike Deodato)
Not only does this book feature the only artist to draw Norman Osborn as Tommy Lee Jones but it's also Bendis' most action packed Avengers story yet. Or maybe I should replace the word "yet" with "ever" since he's leaving the title after the big Avengers vs X-Men crossover. This begs the question... Why did it take him almost ten years to write a story actually worthy of the Avengers? Sure, his run sold like 90's X-Men but a lot of it was just the typical Bendis fanfare of talking heads spitting out the same tired dialogue (it's going to be a good day when I stop seeing Spidey use the words "Oy vey"). Although it's a little confusing to tell who these "Dark Avengers" actually are, it was a fun story arc that closes the chapter on the bat-shit crazy, non-goblin Osborn arc.
Wonder Woman 7 (Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chang)
Okay, the honeymoon phase is over. What was initially fresh and exciting about this non-superhero take on Wonder Woman is over. So how the book well into Azzarello's run? Answer is... very solid. Azzy (sure, let's go there) challenges many of the classic tropes found not only in the Wonder Woman mythos, but in Greek mythology, and he does so full force without looking back. For those of you who are sticklers for continuity/canon even in the face of a revamped universe, you might not want to read the end of this sentence: male Amazons. Azzy introduces male Amazons. As silly as it sounds, just remember that I'm not giving you any context, but believe me when I say it works. Also, there's a twist ending that is so good that I almost feel sorry for calling him 'Azzy.'
FF 16 (Jonathan Hickman, Nick Dragotta & Steve Epting)
It's the conclusion to an arc that took years to tell and it was worth the journey. Cosmic in scale, yet heartfelt in tone, this is exactly how the Fantastic Four should always be written. Even the children, Franklin and Valeria, are (for once!) not completely irritating. This issue closes on chapter of the FF's history and opens up a new one with one of the biggest OH SHIT moments from Marvel in years. Hint: it has to do with Doom.
The BadSupercrooks 1 (Mark Millar & Lienil Yu)
Mark Millar, creator and writer of the popular Kickass and Wanted comics, sets out with a brand new series that is probably just another elaborate movie pitch. This time, the concept is simply "superheroes meets Ocean's 11." It's sure to catch a movie producer's attention and get him all excited over the prospect of gutting the entire comic series and filming it as something completely different. Which is why I'm looking forward to the movie rather than reading the rest of this series. From Wesley Gibson to Hit Girl to Nemesis, Millar's creator-owned books almost always rely on the fact that he has a "hard bastard" as one of the main characters and as entertaining as it was at first, it soon wore thin. I guess I liked it better when it was the Authority. Or Ultimate Captain America. Or... Well, I'm sure you get it by now. It's difficult to connect with a story when the plot calls for a protagonist with the charming qualities of a Clooney or Pitt but instead it presents the complete opposite. It also doesn't help when none of the characters have any real motivation.
Character issues aside, the book is slow, to say the least. The main character is incarcerated for more than half of the book and hatches a scheme after his release with no real motivation other than he has to save his mentor. I'm guessing things will pick up after then of the first act -- oops, I mean issue. The always stunning artwork of Lienil Yu nearly saves Supercrooks from being a complete flop.
Age of Apocalypse 1 (David Lapham & Roberto de la Torre)
I don't want to say that nobody cares anymore but it's been almost twenty years. At some point you have to just let it go. Readers are introduced to two familiar characters from this alternate universe, William Stryker (aka Prophet!) and Donald Pierce (aka Goodnight!). I'm ending the review right there.
The MehAvenging Spider-Man 5 (Zeb Wells & Lienil Yu)
Avenging Spider-Man has been a title that focuses on a different Spidey team-up each issue. This month we get Captain America! We find out that they were both geeks in high school, the value of staying true to yourself, and the importance of good friendship. Yup. It made me fucking sick. But it had (hashtag)tremendous artwork from Lienil Yu. Probably the best I've ever seen it due to sharp inking and a brighter palette used in digital colouring. So this makes it Yu's second book this month and where is Joe Mad?
Is anyone surprised that he could only handle 3 issues of monthly art chores? I'm just glad his Darkstalker game is getting a sequel. I'd rather see that than anything else comic-wise.
Walking Dead 95 (Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard)
I know. Walking Dead gets tons of love on this website, so why the meh? While not exactly bad in any way, it's just that it's been plodding through the last few issues and barely even improved this month. I'm sure there's something huge planned for issue 100 but for now... meh.
Astonishing X-Men 48 (Marjorie Liu & Mike Perkins)
This was my favourite book of the month. But it's only out of obligation because it featured a childhood favourite of mine: Gambit. This issue gives us a brand new creative team setting this book in a new direction. Can't tell what it is yet but, thankfully, it includes characters that don't get much time in the spotlight like Gambit and Northstar. For a story that opens a new story arc, it's surprisingly slow but it has a few good twists and several intriguing mysteries. However, for anyone that isn't a big fan of some lower key characters, this might not be for you.
Avengers vs X-Men 0 (Brian Michael Bendis & Frank Cho)
HOLY M.O.D.O.K.! They need to give him his own series already. Check to see if Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons are available because giant-headed killing machines with T-Rex arms is just solid gold. The rest of the issue is a prelude to this year's major crossover from Marvel and it doesn't really set up anything besides a possible confrontation between Scarlet Witch and Hope. Great artwork from Frank Cho, as always.