Friday, February 3, 2012

Comics of the Week - For Better or Worse

Sometimes, I can't be so positive about what I read. Two books this week were not to my liking and I think one is getting cut off my list. But I guess that's balanced out by the fact that most of the other books I read were outstanding.

I'll get the bad out of the way, first. I loved the first couple of issues of Action Comics after the reboot. It really felt to me like Morrison was making Superman relevant by going back to the Golden Age version of the character. It was a down to earth Superman who wasn't the big hero and still learning the ropes. However, the series slowly started getting into areas that were losing me. So the last few issues, I've just been giving them a chance because, well, it's Morrison, and I know you usually have to give him time to cook. But I think I've completely lost interest in the meal at this point. I don't know whether or not I can say this was a bad issue. I'm sure for fans of the Legion this wasn't as convoluted as it seemed to me. It's not even that I had a hard time following what was happening, as much as that I just wasn't engaged enough to care. Although, the concept of having Superman's enemies create a tesseract inside Superman's brain so they can hide where he'd never find them is not only pure Morrison, it's just awesome. But crazy concepts aren't enough to keep me reading, so I think I'm out.

I've sung many praises about Rick Remender on Uncanny X-Force. And I will likely sing many more. But the current arc will likely not be included in those ballads. Interestingly, this arc is also focused on some crazy concepts, this time involving Otherworld, which I guess is an in between dimension in which the Captain Britain Corps police reality? That's the thing. I think the success of the previous issues is that Remender was able to use existing history and ideas without alienating readers who may not be familiar with them. But this time, it's distancing. I know there's a lot of fighting going on, but I'm not entirely sure who's who. Not helping in this case, is the art by Greg Tocchini. I can get behind non-traditional comic art, but maybe because it's combined with a story that isn't working for me, in this case, the art made the story that much harder to follow. It's interesting to read comments on the Internets on this issue because Tocchini's art is clearly a love it or hate it deal. As usual, I can't land on either side of an extreme like or dislike of it, but I do know it's not working for me on this book. What kept me reading, though, was the characterizations by Remender. He knows how to write these characters and that is why I will stick around. They can't all be winners.

A few months ago, I was considering dropping Invincible. Not because it was bad. I just thought maybe I had read all I needed to read about Mark and company. I could always come back to it and catch up in a few years, instead of reading month to month. But then, last month, Kirkman pulled me back in. This issue went further and now I'm hooked all over again. One thing about Kirkman's books is that nothing is ever to be taken for granted. Not in Walking Dead and not in Invincible. The stakes are always high because anything can happen. Hell, he disintegrated Las Vegas a few issues back, with no fanfare. It was just something that happened in an issue. Something like that happens over at DC or Marvel and it's a two year event with 600 issues of everyone's point of view. But anyway, here we have Allen the Alien coming to wipe out the Viltrumites in hiding on Earth with a virus that may or may not kill all the humans as well. The stand off leads to unexpected alliances and a confrontation that leads to a possible deadly fate for Mark. I could've been more vague, I guess. As usual, Ryan Ottley makes all of this seem like it's being born on the page, all by itself, in beautifully intricate lines. I'm not going anywhere, Invincible. How could I?

Some quick hits:

Animal Man brought us an issue that took a break from the main story without coming off like fill in. We get to watch Tights, the independent movie Buddy Baker stared in a few years ago. Well, we get to see most of it before the batteries on Cliff's phone run out. I was sucked into the movie and hope Lemire comes back to it at some point.

The last issue of Corrina Bechko and Gabriel Harman's Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes was right on. It really served to set up and expand on the world and characters of the original movies, right before Taylor crashes back to Earth. I am more than a little excited for their next Apes mini-series and wonder if it will pick up from here or if it will be a new story. In either case, more, please.

I've been enjoying Swamp Thing, but this is by far, the best issue yet. The action was ramped up here and it really feels like we are now in the middle of some high stakes stuff. Snyder does his usual great work with Marco Rudy on art for this issue. As in past issues, I love that the layouts are part of the tone of the story, working like vines and sort of winding into each other.

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