COMICS WHAT THAT I READ THIS WEEK (April 7th, 2011)

You guys are lucky. I got on-going car drama and was hoping I could go drive an hour and picked up my fixed car. I was going to post, you know, google photo filler. But alas, my car needs another day in the shop. My loss = your gain.

Let’s get it on.

This whole "journey into hell" arc has had some metal-ass covers

Secret Six #32

This book, man….

This was…a mixed bag, to say the least.

Pros: Simone is tying up some lingering plot points from previous stories, including the Knockout plot that’s been in the background since before this book even launched. There’s some decent character work going on here. I don’t normally praise Jim Calafiore’s art too much but the background skull motif in the issue looked real cool.

Cons: …That said, Calafiore’s faces still bug me and the book’s one big action sequence is a big ol’ mess. I’m having a hard time having any kind of emotional investment in the book and I’m not exactly sure why? Eh. This book’s status in my in box is probably going to come down to next issue, I think. Which is a shame because this book started out VERY strong.

Also, the erm…kidnapping/murder/potential rape subplot with Scandal’s girlfriend is just…ugh. Really unappealing to me.

I'm two for two on the variant covers for this book and I'm not even *trying* to pick them up. I prefer 'em to the standard covers, though.

Annihilators #2

Main story: I can’t stress enough how happy I am that this is, for all intents and purposes, a brand new Rom, Space Knight story that (because of legal stuff) doesn’t actually feature Rom himself. Abnett and Lanning have a knack for taking unutilized older Marvel concepts that’d have been sitting around collecting dust and doing something new and fun with them, this is just another example of it.

Tan Eng Huat’s a good fit for this book artwise. Nothing overly stylized, just solid, easy on the eyes pencil work.

The real fun of this book is watching a group of Marvel’s heavy hitting space guys just ruin some bad guys, though I liked Silver Surfer’s Holmesian detective work at the end. Excited about where this book is headed.

Back up: Rocket Raccoon and Groot team up with underground talking animal resistance movement to fight evil wooden clowns. Comics! This has been a fun, wildly unpredictable story thus far and I’m happy to have it keep going that route.

Yeah. So that's going on.

Best of the Week?! Brightest Day #23

(MASSIVE SPOILERS, FOLKS. I suggest you skip on down if you haven’t read the issue)

****

****

****

Holy shit, Swamp Thing’s back in the DC universe officially. And Brightest Day was secretly all about him THIS ENTIRE TIME? I’ve gotta give Johns and Tomasi credit, didn’t see this coming. I knew about the reveal from earlier today but the splash page he comes back in is, uh, impressive. Reinventing Hawkman/Hawkwoman, Firestorm, Martian Manhunter, and Aquaman as different Earth elementals is a really neat concept and I kind of hope it sticks around for alittle bit.  At the very least, some terrific redesigns.

The issue itself? Pretty brief but I’m salivating at the possibilities this issue sets up. God damn. SWAMP THING, you guys. The center point of a big DC event. What a world. Last issue ought to be interesting. I hope to God they get a good creative team on the inevitable Swamp Thing mini.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Heroes For Hire #5

First of all, this comic is called “Slay Misty For me”. That’s hilarious.

This was a great conclusion to the first arc. I especially liked how Misty’s signature “Are you for hire, this is Control” bit becomes a plot device instead of just a stylistic flourish/The Warriors reference. Not as much to the issue as some of the prior ones but Abnett and Lanning are writing two real knockout books right now and this issued cinched that.

***********

Marvel’s like undisputedly got the best team books in comics going right now, I’m impressed.

Good comics week. Brightest Day gets the Best of the Week nod, mainly because NEW AND EXCITING THINGS with one of my favorite characters. I’m not going to say it was the best written book of the week, but certainly the biggest WOW factor.

HIVE OF SCUM. I SERIOUSLY CAN’T BELIEVE HOW EASILY BRIGHTEST DAY HAS WON ME OVER.

-Max

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AND NOW…YOUR AMAZING TWILIGHT CHARACTER OF THE WEEK (4/1/11)

Seth Clearwater

I FUCKIN LOVE THIS CHARACTER

From THE TWILIGHT SAGA WIKIA:

Seth Clearwater is a member of Jacob Black‘s renegade shapeshifter pack and was introduced in New Moon as Leah’s younger brother and member of the La Push werewolf pack. After Jacob Black and his own sister Leah Clearwater, he is the most developed werewolf in the Twilight Saga. He is the son of Harry and Sue Clearwater, and is also the second cousin of Emily Young.

Seth’s just such a great character! I wasn’t sure at first, but then I read this line of dialogue from Edward on my 3rd re-read of ECLIPSE:

He has one of the purest, sincerest, kindest minds I’ve ever heard.

So true! I wish I had an age appropriate daughter so she could date him!

Fuck. TWILIGHT  rules so much you guys. So much I want to cry.

AN AMAZING TWILIGHT CHARACTER. EVERY FRIDAY. THAT’S THE HIVE OF SCUM PROMISE.

-Max

COMICS WHAT THAT I READ THIS WEEK (January 26th, 2011)

It’s another two comic week, oddly enough one without any DC books. But on bright side, the two books happen to be two of the best best books on my pull list, which is pretty swell. Let’s, shall we? WAIT SHIT SUPERBOY #3 CAME OUT LIKE 3 WEEKS AGO AND I MISSED IT. OK LETS DO THIS:

Superboy Prinze Jr?

More than a passing resemblance to Freddie Prinze Jr!

Superboy #3

I have to say, it took me alittle while to warm up to Pier Gallo’s art here but there are some really nice layouts in this issue. That one page of Conner walking down the overgrown dirt road, for one. I’m a big fan of Jeff Lemire’s non-superhero stuff and while I’m not sure the writing in Superboy is as good as, say, Essex County (which is heartbreaking and wonderful and you should all read it), it is pretty good so far. Lemire writes small town settings very well and he does a good job of advancing some established subplots and introducing a pretty cool one with the new Psionic Lad (how has it taken this long to get a telepath character with a thought balloon for a logo?). Honestly, THIS is the sort of book DC should be doing with a character like Superboy: a fresh take that draws on a bunch of cool established concepts (Poison Ivy, Parasite, etc) but is also something you can hand to a 12 year old and they’ll dig it.

God damn it, Land.

Good to see the patented Greg Land "sleep porn face" is still in effect.

Thunderbolts #152

This was, as usual, a good issue. What I like about Parker’s Thunderbolts is that they aren’t an especially good team at this point and their missions tend end in pyrrhic victories, at best. Hyperion is a cool addition to the line up and Parker appears to be drawing on one of my favorite Exiles storylines (aka the only not terrible Chuck Austen-penned comic), which is neat. Kev Walker’s art is such a great fit for this book. It’s very dynamic and appropriately “off” for a book largely about supervillains. He draws cool monsters, to boot.

Man, I love The Prince of Orphans

Steve Rogers and his FUTURE-GUN

Best of the Week: Secret Avengers #9

I really love this book! I mean, this is a comic where Steve Rogers and his black ops Avengers team up with Shang-Chi and The Prince of Orphans (introduced in Brubaker and Fractions’s seminal Iron Fist run) to stop an evil super soldier, a robot Nick Fury and zombie Fu Manchu. Brubaker just NAILS the espionage “we’re in” aspects of the book and does a good job of working in classical Marvel stuff like The Serpent Crown or the aforementioned Fu Manchu. Deodato has sometimes been hit or miss with me but he fits very well on this book, he draws two really solid fight sequences in this issue alone. You don’t have to look past this issue’s cover blurb of “A DEADLY BARGAIN – TWO LIVES IN THE BALANCE!” to see that this book really is a 70’s Marvel love letter.

****

Good week! Like I said, two of Marvel’s strongest books plus Superboy, which is shaping up into something that’s rather fun.

HIVE OF SCUM. YOU LIKE US. WE CAN PROVE IT WITH THE MATH.

-Max

ORIGINAL ART, you say?

Remember when I used to do Spider-Man recaps? Ugh. I’m sorry, once again. I’m working 5 days a week and so the project is, let’s say, on hiatus until I have alittle more free time.

In the meantime, here’s a GORGEOUS page of original art I got at the Baltimore Comic-Con back in August!

Incredible Hercules #134, Page 17 (Pencils by Reilly Brown, Inks by Nelson DeCastro)

I just got it framed today (it’d been sitting rather precariously on my dresser until now) and, man, what a great purchase. Incredible Hercules is, easily, one of the best titles Marvel’s put out in the last decade and “The Mighty Thorcules” is, for my money, one of the title’s best story arcs.

The page itself shows the (now de-aged) Zeus in the library of the Dark Elves and reading over the exploits of Thor (who Herc has currently disguised himself as). What I love about this page is, not only is it a fairly important page in terms of what goes on in the story, it works beautifully on its own.I also really dig how the inks are very heavy on the page, which gives it some real atmosphere and weight. Of course, the thing that instantly drew me to the page is the insanely cool storybook illustration of Thor, Odin, and Sif.

The finished, published page

If you’ll notice, there’s no dialogue in the finished page; the action on the page is so clear that it doesn’t need it.

All in all, I’m glad I was able to buy the page. Reilly sold it to me for a more than fair price and it looks fantastic in my living room.

The Baltimore Comic-Con presents…MASTER OF THE DEEP

Alittle over a week ago, The Baltimore Comic Con hit and it was just a blast. I’ve gone to the show religiously over the last decade and it’s pretty much always just a fun time. Every year I ask my favorite artists for sketches, but this year, I decided to try something kinda different. I’d been thinking about how nobody ever really asks writers for anything at these shows (I mean, aside from an autograph or whatever). So then it hit me: Ask some of my favorite writers and artists to collaborate on one brand new story, telephone style.

I wasn’t sure how well this’d go over.  This is a project that had the potentially to sort of go two pages and die. But, impressively, the experiment turned out a really funny, beautifully drawn and completely bizarre 9 page story. Below is that story, which Jeff Parker titled “Master of The Deep”. Click on the scans for bigger versions.

Page One. (Writer: Jeff Parker, Artist: Steve Leiber)

Page Two (Writer: Sterling Gates, Artist: Nathan Shreiber)

Page Three (Writer/Artist: Jonathan Hickman)

Page Four (Writer: Eric Powell, Artist: Reilly Brown)

Page Five (Writer: Chris Roberson, Artist: Jim Rugg)

Page Six (Writer: David Gallaher, Artist: Steve Ellis)

Page Seven (Writer: Todd Dezago, Artist: Matt Wagner)

Page Eight (Writer: Mark Waid, Artist: Georges Jeanty)

Page Nine (Writer: Jim Shooter, Artist: J.K. Snyder III)

Special thanks to Jeff Parker, Steve Leiber, Sterling Gates, Nathan Shreiber, Jonathan Hickman, Eric Powell, Reilly Brown, Chris Roberson, Jim Rugg, David Gallaher, Steve Ellis, Todd Dezago, Matt Wagner, Jim Shooter, and J.K. Snyder for their seriously fan-tastic contributions to the story.

TREASURY SIZED COMICS RULE. HARD.

It’s been awhile since I picked up any genuinely old comics. I mean, yeah, I’ll buy reprints of old material but I can’t remember the last time I picked up a comic that was physically more than a decade old.

Well, today I stumbled across this gem at my local comic book shop today for THREE BUCKS.

Everyone's in their best "ready to fight" pose except Ghost Rider. Ghost Rider is playing air guitar.

Man, just look at this thing. If you had to put together a cover that had everything certifiably great about 70’s Marvel, you couldn’t do much better than this. Hell, the back cover is somehow even better.

THE ORB

THE ORB. Also, Morbius.

So yeah, needless to say, this thing was getting bought. I haven’t actually sat down to read the stories within, but a cursory flip through makes me realize that this material looks fantastic in a large format like this.

For example:

SHARP

Which really begs the question…why don’t we see more of this sort of thing today? Off the top of my head, the only large format books in this vein to come out lately are Wednesday Comics (which, despite having the deadweight that is sort of expected with anthologies, was pretty great), that Waid/Hitch JLA story (pretty good) and those Alex Ross/Paul Dini DC one shots from way back (never read ’em). I mean, if I had to guess I’d say it’s because the cost ends up being much higher (It was sometimes painful spending $4 per issue of Wednesday Comics) and the fact that stuff like this is really awkward to store. You can’t put it in a box really and it’s not much easier putting it on a book shelf or something.

Regardless, I’d be cool to see Marvel or DC put out some more treasury-sized books in this vein that reprint older material. DC’s got two reprints of Superman vs. Muhammad Ali coming out in November:  A slightly oversized version and an oversized version that replicates the original. I’m pretty excited/interested in seeing how it turns out.

The Spider-Man Challenge Day 18: Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1

The Spider-Man Challenge: Monday through Friday, I read a Stan Lee-written issue of Amazing Spider-Man and write crap about it.

Alright guys, I’m going to apologize for this one. The crucial component to The Spider-Man Challenge has been my cd-dvd rom copy of 40 Years of Amazing Spider-Man. To my knowledge, it had every issue of Amazing Spider-Man. SOMEHOW, FOR SOME REASON, this collection doesn’t have ANY OF THE ANNUALS. So until I figure out what to do about this, for right now I’m going to break out my copy of The Essential Spider-Man Volume 1 and give you an abbreviated, picture-less write-up. It won’t be pretty, but, hell, it’s friday.

Weirdly, the thing that I can’t stop looking at is the rainbow title.

Synopsis: The story opens on Doc Ock, whose robotic arms have been removed from him. He mentally commands them to come back to him and  escapes from prison. Once he escapes, he gathers together five of Spider-Man’s deadliest foes: Kraven, Mysterio, Electro, Sandman, and The Vulture. Spider-Man swings home and sees that Aunt May is in the attic, crying and looking at Uncle Ben’s effects. He still feels guilty for his Uncle’s death and wishes that he was still a normal teenager. Almost immediately, Spider-Man falls off the building he’s perched on. Without warning, his powers have vanished!

Back at Evil HQ, The Sinister Six draw numbers to determine the order in which they take on Spider-Man. The next day, Aunt May worries about Peter, who doesn’t eat his breakfast and never makes it to school. She wonders if it has something to do with Betty Brant and she goes to The Bugle offices to talk to her. Unfortunately, she shows up at the same time Sandman and Electro decide to kidnap Betty Brant. J. Jonah Jameson watches the kidnapping and can’t believe his eyes.

Later, Betty and May are taken to the hideout and, I swear to god, Aunt May and Doc Ock flirt with each other (Who’d of thought their almost-marriage in the 70’s had some actual basis?!). Jonah tells Peter what happened and, soon enough, The Vulture arrives with a message for Spider-Man: The Sinister Six have captured Betty Brant and to meet at the Stark Electric Plant, building #4. Peter realizes that six of his old enemies have teamed up and wonders what to do without his powers. Jonah asks The Fantastic Four if they know where Spider-Man is. They contact The Avengers but Captain America answers and says he doesn’t even know Spider-Man. Johnny Storm sends a message to The X-Men, but Professor X dickishly ignores it.

Peter decides to go anyways and confronts Electro. Electro attacks him and Spider-Man realizes that he dodged his bolt…his powers are back! Spider-Man KOs him (In a beeyuutiful one page splash) and finds a card with his next location on it. Iron Man shows up and bitches at Spider-Man for fucking around on his property asks what’s going on. Spider-Man runs off to the next location, just outside of the old world’s fair grounds. Kraven attacks him with two leopards and Peter manages to snatch Kraven’s card and run off. The Human Torch tracks down Spider-Man and tells him that everyone’s looking for him. He offers to help him, but Spidey declines saying it’s personal. He shows up at the next location, only to find the X-Men. They attack him, but Spider-Man defeats them and discovers that they’re robots. Since it’s robots, it has to be Mysterio and Spider-Man takes him down. Unfortunately, Mysterio’s card falls into a fire, but Spider-Man is able to decipher what it says.

Meanwhile, J. Jonah Jameson talks to a spider, figuring it’ll pass his message along ala Ant Man and his ants. Stupid Jonah.

Spider-Man arrives at a trap set by the Sandman and he’s able to defeat him by asphyxiating him. He heads to his penultimate foe, The Vulture, and they fight until Vulture leads him to Doc Ock’s hideout, an old castle. Octavius mentally controls his arms to attack him until Spider-Man falls into a trap door leading to a water pit. Doc Ock dons some scuba gear and his robot arms and they battle underwater. Spidey traps him the water and rescues Aunt May and Betty. Peter shows up and they head home, where Aunt May is horrified to learn she missed this week’s episode of The Beverly Hillbillies. Aunt May is legitimately senile. The Human Torch swings by Jameson’s office to congratulate Spider-Man and he yells at him for the ulcers he had now. The issue ends with the sinister six sharing a jail cell, licking their wounds and angry with each other.

  • This issue was pretty obviously intended to highlight Marvel’s other books at the time. The FF, Doc Strange, The Avengers and The X-Men all make cameos, complete with little boxes telling the reader where these characters can be found. It’s a pretty smart move and gives this issue a really big scope, even if the cameos are usually only a panel or two.
  • The best part of this issue is that Ditko uses all the extra space to give each one of Spider-Man’s fights one big full page, usually showing Spider-Man defeating the villain. These are gorgeous.
  • The concept of this issue is great and I LOVE villain teams.
  • Aunt May’s wackiness in this issue is astounding, but amusing.

Final Thoughts: If you like Spider-Man at all, you need to read this issue. It may seriously be the best annual Marvel’s ever put out and it’s just a really fun, action-packed story. Monday marks the return of The Green Goblin, a guest appearance by The Human Torch, and, you know, ACTUAL IMAGES to go with the reviews.