Rick Huerta’s BAGS & BOREDS™

Another week has come and gone… Which can only mean it’s time for the 2nd Ever installment of Bags & Boreds on Inveterate Media Junkies. As I mentioned Tuesday on Jose’s Who’s Getting What This Week? column, I didn’t realize how heavy of a Marvel stack I had until I made my pull list. There was however, one sole DC comic book in there. Did it get destroyed by this Marvel overload or did it hold its own? Lets find out!

Ultimate Fallout # 6 (of 6)
Written By: Brian Michael Bendis, Nick Spencer, Jonathan Hickman
Art by Mark Bagley, Andy Lanning, Eric Nguyen, Mitch Breitweiser

Ultimate Fallout finally came to an end this week. (Unless Marvel suddenly decides to EXTEND IT by 3 more issues! – Ed.) Six issues spent telling a story that could have been told in ONE Giant-Size book. Of course there’s no real money in telling a story in a SINGLE ISSUE when you can get people to pay for SIX— so here we are with this mini-series.

I realized a few weeks ago that Ultimate Fallout existed simply to bridge the gap between the old and new status quo in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. I’ve also finally realized why each book credits three writers: So neither Bendis, Spencer or Hickman can specifically be held accountable for creating all of this garbage.

This issue begins with more scenes of a terribly exploited Aunt May and Gwen Stacy– as the media, in a frenzy over Peter Parker’s death, hounds them to their front yard in Queens. May eventually decides to take Tony Stark up on his offer to move them anywhere in the world. I assume this is Bendis’ way of gracefully excising the characters closely tied to Peter from the book– and closing this chapter in the Ultimate Comics Spider-Man saga.

Which brings me to one of the major problems that I’ve been having with Ultimate Fallout: I loved Ultimate Spider-man. It was ten great years of a different kind of Spider-Man… A younger, grounded character that was easy to relate to.

Given that, I strongly feel the book’s supporting character storylines should have been wrapped up in the pages of USM, to help bring a sense of closure to the epic title. Having these important loose ends tied up in a separate comic gives no justice to Ultimate Spider-man’s original run. Annoyingly, the last page of USM is, technically speaking, just a close-up of Norman Osborne— leaving readers to wonder if he is dead. No dignified wrap-up for this great comic. Just another dangling plot thread to be played with later.

What a shitty end to a great book.

But I’m not judging that book today. I am, however, just realizing how unnecessary Ultimate Fallout really was– especially now that it has ended. A couple of minor things happened: Kitty Pride, Johnny Storm and Bobby Drake find a tunnel, which will presumably serve as their new X-Home in the upcoming Ultimate X-Men title. Captain America quit… Off-panel. (What a great way to really drive a high impact moment home, guys… Have a character make a huge decision OFF PANEL!)

I enjoyed the Ultimate titles (pre-Ultimatum) and give them credit for attempting to tell the different kinds of stories that could not be told in Marvel’s “regular” 616 Universe. With that in mind, I am pretty excited about the Ultimate Universe events coming later this month. I just hope that the A-List writers and artists Marvel has recruited can keep this version together so we don’t have to endure a third reboot or another cheap tragedy.

X-Men Schism # 3 (of 5)
Written By: Jason Aaron
Art By: Daniel Acuna

As convoluted as the X-Verse has been for the last 10+ years, I’ve got to hand it to Aaron for being able to tell a story that’s fairly easy to follow. With exception of his using a few characters that can have me scouring Wikipedia, all of the big guns make an appearance in X-Men Schism #3.

Here’s my major criticism of this mini-series and it is a personal preference: With the exception of Malachi, I’ve never been sold on child villains… Especially when they kick the shit out of bad-asses like Magneto. Then again, I have to admit that I am still getting a little excited when I see this title pop up on my pull list. So there’s something here.

I’m not sure if I’m just happy to finally be reading an X-Men comic again or if it’s the story. When in doubt like this, I usually tend to credit the creators– rather than the characters in the book. After all, the writers write the characters… Right?

And what I’m enjoying–  even more than the major story– is the dynamic between the team. To me, character interaction is vital when reading any X-Men title. I don’t know why but I tend to gravitate more toward X-stories that detail the inner conflict between the members. Who doesn’t love to see Cyclops and Wolverine go at it every once in a while?

I believe the primary storyline of Schism will end up serving as the backdrop for the tale’s true purpose– detailing the wedge being driven between Scott Summers and Logan that will ultimately divide the X-men into two teams. With only two issues left, Aaron better get to it.

If you’ve been too intimidated to jump into the X-Books before, now’s a good time to give this major part of Marvel’s Universe a chance. One other thing I should also note: Daniel Acuna’s art. I was a worried when I saw this issue’s muddy cover but once I was a page or two in, I was immediately relieved to see that he had turned in an amazing job.

Venom #6
Written By: Rick Remender
Art By: Tom Fowler

Last month’s issue of Venom was amazing! I couldn’t speak more highly of it around my LCS. Naturally, I was amped up for the follow-up– hoping that it would continue the magic from issue #5. Did it?

Unfortunately, no.

Reading this Spider-Island tie-in was the biggest disappointment of the week for me. Who knew it was apparently okay to throw continuity completely out the window when a major crossover comes along?

If magical hammers weren’t doing enough damage to New York, then venomous spider monsters will absolutely bury the city, right? What? There aren’t any bad ass hammers in this book? But I saw New York destroyed in Fear Itself just last week. I know I did!

Sigh…

Putting my issues with continuity aside, Remender’s take on Venom has been refreshing. I am really enjoying Flash Thompson as a character and feel that Rick has a great shot at redefining Venom and making the character more accessible in the Marvel Universe. I’m guessing that we were all growing tired of seeing Venom in his previous state, which may be why this series is doing as well as it is.

Back to Issue #6: While I understand that Venom is part of the “Spider-man Family”– making a Spider Island tie-in almost “required”… I didn’t see the point in this story. At all.

SPOILER ALERT! The big twist ending reveals the story’s main antagonist– in the form of a giant spider monster– to be Captain America. I guess after giving up on the Avengers during Fear Itself, Steve Rogers made a side-trip to Queens to get infected by a blah blah blah blah… Hell, I can’t even finish the sentence. Here’s my verdict:

Daredevil #2
Written By: Mark Waid
Art By: Paolo Rivera

About halfway through reading this book, I realized the grin I had on my face since page 1 was still there. Mark Waid has completely revitalized Daredevil for the better. This book epitomizes the reason I started reading comics as a kid.

The story starts exactly where DD #1 left off– answering the question of why Cap was going after DD. A wonderfully drawn fight sequence between Cap and DD follows… With their witty banter elevated to a whole other level that literally had me laughing out loud. By the end of the scene you are left wanting an entire issue of Cap and DD arguing– who cares over what. But never fear, there’s more than just heroic in-fighting and witty banter to sink your teeth into– as we discover the motivations behind a couple of court room injustices brought on by the Police Department.

Like any great comic book, we also get a nice cliffhanger like a 60s Batman Television episode. I could almost hear the narrator, “Will Daredevil escape… Or are will his sense of humor be lost to us all? Find out next month…”

I truly hope that the days of always depressed Matt Murdock are behind us. Over the last decade, we’ve seen DD go through almost every fear and tragedy available to the human condition– and it’s great to see the creators bringing just the right amount of fun back to the character. While it’s a shame that artist Paolo Rivera will not be sticking around for the upcoming issues, I believe Mark Waid’s take on the Devil will keep us excited for a long time to come.

Captain America #2
Written By: Ed Brubaker
Art By: Steve McNiven

Coming off the heels of Captain America: The First Avenger, it figures Marvel would try to capitalize on the hit film by bringing this book back to #1. However, I think it’s wishful thinking to hope that people are gonna run out of theaters and flock to their LCS for Cap’s latest comic… Especially since they are experimenting with B and C-List villains in the book.

This issue gives us barely enough plot to stay interested, or gain even a basic understanding of the story. I read the book twice just to make sure I thought I knew what was going on… All to no avail.

Apparently a WWII ally has turned into an enemy and is back for some old-fashioned revenge. This baddie, known as Jimmy Jupiter or Codename: Bravo, can control dreams– bringing people and objects in and out of them. I doubt you’ll be surprised that I needed to do a little digging in order to get some kind of a history on Jimmy Jupiter. (The internet is our friend at the high-tech IMJ HQ.) The only substantive thing I was able to discover: JJ is a legacy character from Marvel Mystery Comics circa 1939 and was, at some point, folded into current Marvel lore. (If there is anything more interesting to this guy than that, please feel free let me know in the comments section.)

As much as I love Cap, it’s hard for me to say that I had fun reading this issue. Ed Brubaker has been writing this book for about 7 years and has proven time and again that he gets the character. As for Steve McNiven… Well, he’s Steve McFreakinNiven so you know it is a beautiful book.

Great eye candy, no interest story-wise.

Batman # 713
Written By: Fabian Nicieza
Art By: Steve Scott, Daniel Sampere, Andrei Bressan

I couldn’t wait to read this issue– not only because it was the only DC book I had to read this week but also because this was the last Batman issue to use the original numbering before the Scott Snyder run begins with a new #1. Armed with that info, I figured Issue #713 would feature some type of homage to past issues or even a prelude story for the new book. What I got, instead, was exactly what was needed since Damien and Dick started working together: A subtle thank you.

Batman #713 tells the history of Batman and his four Robins with a monologue from an unknown narrator. We see Dick Grayson becoming his own man, Todd as Bruce’s failure, Tim as his new hope and Damien as the cocky and ungrateful son of the Bat. As the story continues, we are treated to a compressed version of the Bat Legacy– always impressive when done right. As the issue concludes, we discover that the new Robin (Damien) actually felt he learned some valuable lessons under Dick’s tutelage– something he never thought would happen under any hero other than Bruce Wayne.

We see Damien realizing his journey wasn’t just about learning how to ply the hero trade. It was also about learning humility– and most of all, understanding why it is heroes do what they do. This important theme can often be forgotten when writers tell these type of stories and it is nice to see the characters humanized every once in a while.

SPOILER ALERT: What really sold me on this issue: Finally, in the last three pages, we discover that the voice providing the monologue belongs to Damien Wayne himself. He’s speaking to two children named Bob (Kane) and Jerry (Robinson) and, in his own way, indirectly thanking Dick for what he taught him. This moment seemed long overdue and  gave me a reason for a fist pump… Knowing that next month the Batman and Robin comic will no longer feature Dick– but Bruce and Damien.

I freely admit to having a bad taste in my mouth over the Damien character before this– mainly because I never felt that Damien gave Dick the acknowledgement he deserved for stepping in as a father figure when Bruce suddenly “died”/disappeared. Thankfully, this issue gave me exactly what I needed with zero seconds left in the title’s current run. Perfect. The final page also serves up a fitting and different end tag from the ones we usually receive. At the bottom, the last caption reads, “Never The End.”

I truly hope not.

Rick can be found on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/#!/rickhuerta
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Rick was previously one of the Tens of Thousands that comprise IMJ’s Silent Majority! He’s been reading the site since day one!
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11 Responses to Rick Huerta’s BAGS & BOREDS™

  1. joe says:

    Liked your Batman review, I enjoyed the issue as well (i just read it before coming to the site) But I think the kid named Jerry is a tribute to Jerry Robinson, not Jerry Seigel.

  2. sai011 says:

    Thanks for the review Rick Huerta. The batman one is the one I liked the most. If I see it next time I go to a comic shop I will pick it up. I am going to to miss Dick and Damian ask the dynamic duo and Red Robin.

  3. Stamps says:

    Loved the Batman review Rick. I’m going to miss the original numbering. 😦

    I’ve always enjoyed the Damien character. I like the fact that he’s a little “off” and is just unpredictable to do something crazy at any time. I also like that writers have been using the character for the occasional comedic moment.

  4. philbyday says:

    I pretty much pass up anything ULTimized, although because of Art Adams, I did weaken & picked up Ult.X by Loeb, which wasn’t as horrible a read as I thought it would be.
    JossWhedon pretty much killed the 616 Xmen 4 me.
    When I can avoid it, anything symbiote related I tend 2 avoid.
    McNiven? Except 4 Nemisis, I’m sold! If all works out, I will have collected Cap 4 the 1st time in two decades.
    Three artists on Batman; Unless they’re speaking of inker n colorist, that’s usually not a good sign. Certainly gonna have 2 peep thru it b4 I decide.

    Cool insights, Rick!

    • Rick Huerta says:

      Im not one for multi-artist books either, but this issue wasn’t too bad since each one represented a different moment in time. It actually worked out well.

  5. NicktheStick says:

    I bought and read Batman #713 because of your review and am I ever glad I did. What a great way to end Batman. I quite enjoyed that it was Damien as well. It actually feels like his character because he wouldn’t actually admit that to Dick. I also have to say I liked the homage to the Bat-pole. I thought this issue worked very well. It had some jokes referencing the past and had a good wrap up of the journey of Batman which we know is “never the end,” and a new adventure is right around the corner.

  6. ed2962 says:

    Interesting reviews! I’m on the fence with Schism. I’m more interested in the artists than I am in the story. I might end up checking out Daredevil eventually, I’ve been hearing decent things about the chance in tone.

    • Rick Huerta says:

      Yep the change in tone in DD is definitely worth it and Paolo Rivera’s art is amazing. Also, Schism is using a different artist every issue so your enjoyment might vary from book to book.

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