Sunday, October 11, 2015

Reading Comics 172 "A final week..."

It always sucks having to tell your local comics shop that you have to close your hold file.  But that's what happened last Wednesday...

When I started this blog at the end of 2010, I was headed toward what I thought was the end of a very enjoyable period of reading comics that'd begun six years earlier.  Instead, Flashpoint and the New 52 succeeded in sucking me back in.  It's always a question of money.  I walked away from comics in 1999 because I needed money for college.  The intended 2011 break was because I was entering my worst financial period (and it just got worse and worse until got better).  Now, it's because I will be entering a unique period of my life, dedicated to my sister and her baby.  I don't know when I'll have comics money again.  It's wise to walk away sooner rather than later, without that dangling period like I gave myself the last time, keeping the window open.  The window is closed.

It sucks, in some ways, because I would love to read Dark Knight III in its individual installments.  I would love to read Klaus from Grant Morrison.  And there are other comics I won't have a chance to read, or haven't heard about yet, and...

So it's better to try and not think about that.  This was a good year, a very good year, and it was one in which a lot of great stories ended.  Which makes all this far more fitting than I could've imagined.  If there has to be another moment to walk away, this is as good a moment as there can be.

All that being said, I made sure the last week was a good one, too.

18 DAYS #4 (Graphic India)
This issue is more or less an incredibly abbreviated version of the classic Bhagavad Gita, in which Arjuna and Krishna have an epic heart-to-heart.  I've grown to appreciate how this Morrison project has opened up the Iliad of India.  This is pretty much what I always hoped Shanower would've done with Age of Bronze (a project that is apparently indefinitely on hold).  Shanower, left to his own devices, is far less interesting than the kind of liveliness he exhibited adapting Baum's material in Marvel's Oz series.  Even if Morrison himself isn't writing 18 Days directly, his blueprint has proven invaluable, and the results have been continually and even increasingly impressive.  I will try and keep tabs on this series, and hope to catch Morrison's other Graphic India project, Avatarex, at some point, too.

The letters column humbles me as a fan of Robo.  Clearly there are fans out there who are much more on top of Robo mythology...

The debut of DC's lately weekly (scheduled for half a year) celebrates the Boy Wonder legacy, which as a long-time fan of Robin I'm very happy to see.  There's also a "Robin War" crossover coming up, making this an excellent time for Robin fans in general.  The story here seems to be clever even if at the same time a little clumsy, one of those "there's new information about the past that we're revealing now and it happens to be a deep, dark secret!" deals that's kind of trademark Snyder (see: Court of Owls, etc.).  Dick Grayson is at the center of the action, both in flashback and in the present.  Jason Todd and Tim Drake play support this issue, as does Harper Row, the apparent would-be Robin who instead became Bluebird.  Stephanie Brown, who was Robin, will be part of the story.  Left out so far is Damian Wayne (who will be a part of "Robin War"), as well as Duke Thomas (We Are Robin).  The best part of this issue on the creative front is Tony Daniel returning to the Batman family.

I'm so, so glad I ended up catching up on The Valiant, because this follow-up has just been brilliant.

Yeah.  I read this.  I love that an Internet star has finally managed to start branching out past their Internet roots.  The meme of all memes has already become a Christmas movie, and now Grumpy Cat is a comic book star as well.  This issue features three tales.  In all of them Grumpy Cat is forced to be more than just, y'know, grumpy.  Establishing a working fictional world turns out to be more entertaining than you might expect.  I didn't previously have anymore interest in Grumpy Cat than the millions of casual Internet denizens who saw the endless memes, and theoretically this will be about as far as my experience will go, but I'm rooting for the idea.  I'd love to see the Christmas movie at some point.  Hopefully Grumpy has more staying power than poor Hoops & Yoyo, whose hilarious greeting cards seem to no longer be in stores, and whose own Christmas special joined the heaps and heaps of recent Christmas specials that apparently have no chance at all at becoming immortal in the same way as ones created half a century ago.  But things can change, right?

When Heroes debuted, I thought it was a horrible misfire.  Ironically, I became a hopelessly devoted fan at the very same time everyone else walked away from it.  So I'm glad Heroes Reborn is happening, and checking out this companion comic seemed like a good idea.  It was.  This issue, anyway, links superheroes with the masked stars of Mexican wrestling.  One of the best things for fans of the original series who also happened to be comic book fans was the art of Tim Sale being featured in the visions of various characters, which I believe was later featured among the material DC published at that time.  It's unlikely that Sale will pop up again.  Or that Jack Black will show up and shout, "Nachooooo!"

Brian Michael Bendis finally writes Tony Stark.  I don't know why this took so long to happen.  I mean, I know this technically happened during the many years Bendis wrote Avengers comics, but to have Bendis write Stark directly is kind of one of those dream creative matches.  As I've remarked before, the movies so many people love probably wouldn't exist without the tone Bendis set in the comics, and that's especially true of Iron Man.  So that's exactly what you can expect here.  The best part is that this means there's finally, finally a readable Iron Man comic.  As far as I can tell, this has never happened before.  I mean, not completely.  It's just, Marvel has never attempted to capitalize on the character's momentum, never tried, even in the wake of the huge success of the movies, to make him a true headlining act.  How to make this sound better?  Bendis is finally writing a Doctor Doom worthy of his considerable reputation, too.  Do you need anymore reason to read this one?

I appreciate the effort to make the Rebellion's victory less clear-cut, and the comparative restraint Marvel is showing in keeping the Empire around, but I think once again, the results are not exactly to my liking.  I have all the faith in the world for The Force Awakens, but I guess I'm glad I won't be reading the rest of Shattered Empire.  End of story.

STAR WARS: LANDO #5 (Marvel)
On the opposite side of the spectrum is the remarkable insight Charles Soule brought to Lando.  So apparently I did end up missing an issue, but not so much of the storytelling.  Poor Lobot ends up with his inevitable robotic lobotomy, but the logic of how and why it happens, and what it means to Mr. Calrissian, is flawless.  This ended up being a true highlight of the year.

King and Pagulayan continue where they left off in Convergence, and I'm glad this happened.  Telos is a second chance for DC to create a true star from the New 52 era after Pandora didn't quite pan out (I think they just waited too long to pull the trigger on her).  To continue weaving Brainiac into the mythology is brilliant.

And...that's it, folks.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Countdown to QB50 2015: September

18 DAYS #3 (Graphic India)
In which I realize Grant Morrison will not actually be writing the series.  But turns out not to drastically affect its quality.

New home, same great storytelling.  Very glad to see Clevinger and Wegener back in print.

Snyder and Azzarello make for a potent combination.  Out of current continuity, this flashback tale made the news thanks to its commentary on the spate of police shootings making news.

If Deathstroke (with all due apologies to Tony Daniel, etc.) were as awesome in his own comic as here is here, I'd read that, too.  Reminds me how awesome it was to see him in The Shade, too.

In which Bloodshot realizes there's a bad guy who's also attempting to absorb all the stray nanites...

Seven years in the making, Loeb and Sale finally return to this latest collaboration.  I'm ecstatic to see this happening.  Curiously, the first issue reprints the long-ago zero issue, but after the contents of the new material.

CIVIL WAR #4 (Marvel)
Black Panther turns out to be a Skrull.  And suddenly the follow-up to the original Civil War, Secret Invasion, seems less random.  Yet another thing this reprise gets more right than the original.  Thanks, Soule.  Again.

DAREDEVIL #18 (Marvel)
I assumed all along that Waid was headed to a quasi-rehash of the classic Daredevil narative, and in this finale that's exactly what he does.  The comic itself is not so bad, but then Waid writes in his going-away thoughts how this run has been his most creatively-rewarding to date.  How he forgotten writing Wally West?  Even if the style was more deliberate, I'd hold the best of that run to anything Waid has written in a regular superhero comic since...

I've settled in to really enjoying the random pleasures of this experience.  Viva Douglas Adams!  Who makes a cameo this issue!

Cornell concludes the crossover epic.  Eventually gets around to explaining why the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) wasn't included.

The only objection I have to this series, as it turns out, is the poor choice in style for the lead's narrative captions.  Otherwise, more solid material from Lobdell.

The conclusion to this Secret Wars tie-in seems to be a comics version of X-Men: The Last Stand's final encounter between Wolverine and Jean Grey.  Nice save, Burnham.

I love, love, love how this series has completely embraced the full potential of being its own continuity.

FIGHT CLUB 2 #5 (Dark Horse)
Finally had a look at this.  That's about all I've got to say about that.

THE FUSE #14 (Image)
I'm settling in as a regular reader.

GRAYSON #11, 12, Annual #2 (DC)
Yeah, I've finally decided to read this series more regularly.  It's just too darn good to continue overlooking.

Venditti promised, or someone promised, answers.  But there are frustratingly few.  Darn you, Venditti!

IMPERIUM #8 (Valiant)
Divinity, the guy from Divinity (no, seriously!) pops up in something other than Divinity.  Although this is kind of more or less a rephrasing of Divinity except in an Imperium context...

Don't tell anyone else that Darkseid dies in this installment of "Darkseid War"!

JUSTICE LEAGUE 3001 #3, 4 (DC)
Don't tell anyone that I snuck back into this series because I realized all over again, this is supposed to be Legion of Super-Heroes territory.  But Giffen/DeMatteis have managed to create yet another platform for their genius instead...

I caught up with this release from earlier in the year because it concludes a story I finally got around to seeing in its inception from a first issue I read in my comiXology account (don't tell anyone I'm still working away at that!).  I don't think the muted impact (the first issue was better) is because I skipped, oh, ten issues.  But it's still fun seeing Van Lente in something I actually wanted to read again.

Through no real fault on my own, I missed the previous issue.  But I still love this series.

MIRACLEMAN #1 (Marvel)
This new first issue marks the start of the reprints as they reach the Gaiman material, having concluded Alan Moore's The Original Writer's.  Turns out to be very similar to Sandman, somehow...

MS. MARVEL #18 (Marvel)
Kamala's mother knew!

NAMELESS #5 (Image)
Morrison's weird comic (his latest weird comic) finally saw another issue published.  Burnham shows restraint (for a change).  Reads a lot like the first issue.  Made me interested again.

THE NEW DEAL (Dark Horse)
See thoughts elsewhere.

PREZ #4 (DC)
The comics shop had a giant mix-up in its shipments that week.  So I panicked and got a digital edition.  I've had some fun digitally lately, but I'm not gonna tell you anything else.  Then the shop got the print edition.  And this becomes the latest comic where I have both, and don't mind.  Just two issues left, alas.

All along I've been reading how this whole story leads back to Sandman #1.  And that's exactly what happens.  This was probably my favorite issue of the series.  Sad to see it go.  Very, very gorgeous work, Williams (III).

Larfleeze on the cover...!

STAR WARS #9 (Marvel)
I thought they promised answers from Sana Solo this issue?

Takes place concurrently with the Battle of Endor (at least during this issue).  Features Poe Dameron's parents.  No idea who Poe Dameron is?  Perhaps this prequel to The Force Awakens just isn't meant for you, son...

The, ah, misshipment issue prevented me from reading a new Star Wars: Lando...

Guggenheim and Greenwood (Resurrection) started working on this years ago.  Guggenheim and Greenwood, meet Loeb and Sale...

As far as I'm concerned, some of the best Superman storytelling...ever.

THIS DAMNED BAND #2 (Dark Horse)
Cornell's second issue was good enough to helped the series get a foothold in the QB50 running.

In the fine tradition of the original Robin ongoing being the best thing about Jean-Paul Valley's stint as Batman, Bermejo has turned this one into the best thing about the Commissioner Batman era.  That second issue, which doesn't feature Duke, is the best one to date.

My periodic sampling of this series continues.  Superman is a dick.  But he kind of has a reason to be.