Hello IMJ Nation™… Welcome to the first installment of Bags & Boreds.
I hope you enjoy this weekly comic book review column. So you know, I will focus on critiquing some of the major books on the retail release schedule. Ian and Jose have read some of my past work and been kind enough to give me a slot on Inveterate Media Junkies™– the fast growing, hugely popular website that we all love to frequent. I hope that you all enjoy my rants, raves and opinions as we go through the new comics week-in and week-out. I’m looking forward to hearing ALL your opinions!
So, enough of that. I just wanted to formally introduce myself and say in advance… I’m sorry.
Detective Comics #881
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Jock & Francesco Francavilla
Remember that summer? The one where all the DC books came to heart-stopping climactic ends just before the relaunch… er, reboot? You know the one. Where every loose end was tied up neatly, leaving us all with a warm sense of satisfaction?
Ya, we probably won’t be saying anything anywhere near that about the DCnU in five years… Except maybe for this book– The final run of Detective in its original form, or at least before it becomes “Detective Comics Volume 1.” Still, I will say this– If this is the way we have to go out, that’s just fine by me.
Detective Comics #881 brings us the final chapter in the James Gordon story. A cleverly told tale with art duties shared by Jock and Francesco Francavilla. This story was originally intended to be told through several issues as a backup feature in Detective, until DC shocked everyone by “Drawing the Line at $2.99.” Splitting this story between eight various issues actually worked in DC’s favor from a structure standpoint… As it allowed Snyder to touch on scenes from both the main story and the backup to explain plot holes left behind in previous issues. Though I doubt that this was intentional from the beginning, I say we just go ahead and give Snyder the credit anyway… OK?
This final issue provides us with suspense that was worth the wait and a very real, very earth-bound, level-headed story. As an avid fan of pretty much anything Batman, I believe the story will resonate on a collective level as one of those, “You gotta read” books in coming years. Even more amazing than that: Snyder was able to deliver a great superhero story without its’ main hero– and with a fresh villain not part of The Bat’s usual Rogues Gallery. Even though Dick Grayson will no longer be Batman, I’m glad that we were left with a story to remember him by as the Caped Crusader.
If you’ve been on the fence about reading this series– especially since we are so close to the reboot– I’d suggest you just swing that other leg on over the top rail and go for it. If you’re waiting for the trade, make sure you go hardcover– because there is no doubt you’ll be pulling this book off the shelf over and over again.
Ultimate Fallout #5
Written By: Jonathan Hickman & Nick Spencer
Art By: Luke Ross and Billy Tan
So I have some good news and I have some bad news. Which one do you want first? Okay, okay… The good news first: For the last five weeks Ultimate Fallout has made no movement whatsoever in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe– so you’re not missing out on anything. The bad news? You guessed it: They’re still printing an Ultimate Fallout book.
This book has taken five issues to accomplish what should/could have been done in one. Don’t think so? Here, I’ll prove it to you in one sentence. Ready?
“Everyone’s sad that Spider-Man is dead even though we have a new ½ Black, ½ Hispanic Spider-Man swinging around while Quicksilver tries to enslave the mutant race and Nick Fury argues with government over budget cuts.” Savvy?
It’s simple really… Too simple. While I enjoy the idea of the UU and I’m hopeful that this is the last relaunch (Hmmm… there’s that word again) in this Universe– there’s no incentive to continue reading this mini-series. Later this month Marvel will print a new Ultimate Spider-Man, a new Ultimates and a new Ultimate X-Men title… In what I believe will most likely be their last attempt at an Ultimate Comics line. Its been a pretty good ten years overall– but by the way Fallout has been going, it might be time to hang ’em all up for good. Here’s hoping for a better reboot this time.
Amazing Spider-Man # 667
Written By: Dan Slott
Art By: Humberto Ramos
Not much to report at Spider-Island. As we learned in the Prelude issue, Amazing Spider-man #666— half of Manhattan has discovered they now possess Spidey’s abilities and have decided to do what most people would actually do… Start tearing it up in the NYC!
I still don’t know if I’d swing around committing crimes. I might sneak into a sporting event or a concert… But I guess the chances of everyone who gets Spider-Powers deciding to commit a couple of swing-by purse snatchings is a fairly safe bet in Marvel’s comic book world.
Unfortunately, not much has changed since the last issue, other than the amount of people affected with powers. Little story movement has occurred and the change in artists from the fantastic Stefano Caselli to Humberto Ramos makes the book, as a whole, exceedingly average for me. I’d like to see a bit more plot progress in the upcoming issues but for now its still worth the read. Also, if you get a chance to pick up the Prelude issue, it’s a great starting point for ASM if you’ve been gone for a while or thinking about starting up with the title.
Fear Itself Book Five (of 7)
Written By: Matt Fraction
Art By: Stuart Immonen
I’m not much for event books. Almost everything about them bothers me: The usually delayed books, the unnecessary tie-ins… But most of all, the uniform cover treatments. Fear Itself is guilty of two out of three of my pet peeves– but I think what bothers me more than anything about this book is the story’s mediocrity.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m probably in the minority of the people who actually think that Fear Itself is… OK. I’m not hating the story. It’s just that, for whatever reason, I am not feeling the weight of the event either– even with Bucky’s death and the amount of destruction being laid on the planet. Issue 5– or Book 5– feels like it’s about where we should have been two issues ago. We only have two issues left in the series, so Fraction definitely has his work cut out for him in wrapping it all up– while still being able to deliver the knock out punch that “event” books should have.
Not skipping a beat, however, is the high quality artwork by Stuart Immonen. When this book has finished its’ run, there’s no doubt that he will be the saving grace. If nothing else, the main Fear Itself comics are beautiful to look at. Immonen is putting on a clinic for what BIG STORY ART should look like. All artists should take note. For you aspiring artists out there, this is textbook reference material.
If you’re strictly a story buff then you may want to steer clear.
X-Men # 15.1
Written By: Victor Gischler
Art By: Will Conrad
Its no surprise that Marvel’s .1 (P0int One) Initiative did not accomplish the goal of providing new readers with a point to jump on-board existing titles. What is surprising is that the company is still publishing .1 books. I really thought that these .1 things were over and done with, but this week provided us with that last dusty part of the cereal from the bottom of the box. Thing is: That’s often my favorite part!
But X-Men 15.1 is nothing spectacular. There’s no threat of world domination or major stakes, or even… Wolverine. It is, however, a nice throwback style story with a simple plot conflict and resolution similar to that of the X-Men Saturday morning animated series you may have enjoyed as a kid.
Fischer tells a story of the X-Men going to an Indian Reservation in order to help the citizens there with a local threat. We get our plot, conflict and resolution all in a nice concise single issue that gives each member of the team a little moment to shine. We also don’t get lost in any major story points that require us to dedicate any future time to the series if we don’t want to. If you’re looking for a nice one-and-done X-Men story, pick up this comic and just have a few minutes of fun. I found it to be the quickest read of the week– clocking in at less than 15 minutes– but found it satisfying nonetheless.
The Red Wing #2
Written By: Jonathon Hickman
Art By: Nick Pitarra
I couldn’t do it to Jonathan Hickman twice in one week. So Ultimate Fallout wasn’t the best book he’s written– but there’s no doubt this guy knows what he’s doing. As if future high-flying, time traveling, one-winged ships weren’t cool enough in The Red Wing– we also get a journal entry monologue as our main character documents his experiences with the primitive world.
Though I’m still confused whether the book is four or six issues (per a tweet indicating it will actually be six)– we still get a bite big enough to chew and savor until the next installment. The Red Wing can best be described as Top Gun Meets Stargate. We receive lots for our comic dollar: High speed flying with cool concept weapons and an understandable story shrouded in mystery… Plus a great plot twist. When I finished this book, I was both excited and confused… But it was the good kind of confused. It was the kind of confusion that keeps you wanting more. I can’t wait for the next issue, which in my world spells good storytelling. Pick this one up if you haven’t yet.