Here is the truth; I am sick and tired of big event comics. Ugh. When I see these books absolutely polluting the shelves at comic shops, my heart just aches. As a rule, blockbuster event and crossover comics are not necessarily a bad thing. I think they can be a huge draw in attracting new readers and giving longtime fans an opportunity to see characters interact with others outside of their usual confines. But let’s be honest here; most crossovers and multifaceted event books just suck in the creativity department. They are sprawling goliaths that give us a larger-than-comic-book life perspective. And that’s okay. We need big, dumb entertainment sometimes. That’s why the summer movie season is so fun. It provides levity to the seriousness of the industry. But with comic books, if you have a crossover for every creative meal, you are in deep creative health trouble.
The big event books have just dominated the market for too long now. It’s time we fans put a stop to that. We need to declare our independence from these stupid books for a good, long while.
I intend to do just that. Won’t you join me?
To his Publishing Excellencies Paul Levitz and Dan Buckley,
When in the course of reading endless event comics, it becomes necessary for the fans to dissolve these artistic bands with have connected us to one another, an to assume that we want more of these just because we buy the products of characters we cherish so well to which the laws of collecting and fan loyalty entitle them, a decent respect to quality should declare the causes which impel us to cancellation.
We fans hold these truths to be self evident, that all fans are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain fortunate and unfortunate geek genres, that among these are comic books, Star Wars, Star Trek, and other odd brands of Sci-Fi and Fantasy kitsch. That to secure these genres, Comic Book Publishers are held afloat in these stressful economic times by fans, deriving their publishing schedule based on the needs and desire of this fan-base – That Whenever any Comic Book Publishers gluts the market with lackluster event titles one after the other, it is the right of the fans to alter or end their purchasing habits.
History tells us that these trends in comic books come and go, but that we the fans have reached our very limit of these event and crossover stories. It is our duty as fans to throw off these Publishers who continue to meddle in these pretentious and uninspiring stories. Marvel and DC Comics have thus devolved to such idiocy, dabbling endlessly in events stories that never end, only leading into the next contrived storyline. Such has been the patient suffering of the fans. The history of the present publishers of Marvel and DC is a history of repeated ineptitude and banal contrivance, all having a direct object of establishing a never ending event cycle. To prove this, let the fans submit these grievances to a candid Internet.
In every stage of these oppressions, fans have spoken out against these practices. We have been vocal and our numbers have grown. Our protests and negative reviews have only been met with yet more event comics. We the fans only want to read good stories that move us and bring us closer to the characters we love so much. Yet these Publishers have ignored those wishes. A Publisher whose characters must be so frequently subjected to monotonous stories is unfit to continue to publish comic books.
We, therefore, the united comic book fans of the world, do in the name of the authority of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, solemnly declare our independence from event comics and absolve any connection to such tedious storytelling for the foreseeable future. We fans are independent, not tied down to simply buying what these Publishers offer us. We have freedom of choice, and from this day forward we choose to not purchase such event books to further our lives, protect our fortunes in such harsh economic times, and honor the memory of high-quality, imaginative, decent comic books everywhere.
I’m cheap. I’ve admitted this more times than it should be healthy to do so. Being cheap isn’t a fatal character flaw especially if you have a comic book habit. I’ve accepted my tightfisted nature and accepted that I am a comic book miser ala Scrooge. But what about the rest of you? This week I’m taking a look at how you can discover the inner-cheapo inside of you. Yes, you too can be thrifty in the face of inflated comic shop prices and dubious e-Bay reserves. Come on in, it won’t cost you anything.
Let’s face it; collecting comics can be expensive as any other addiction out there on the market. I sometimes think being addicted to heavy drugs is easier than a comic book addiction. Afterall, heroin is heroin as opposed to tracking down that issue of Uncanny X-Men you’ve been looking for. With our addiction, it has to be specific. No random issue will do. Some collectors will immediately jump at the chance to pick up an issue. I’m much to frugal to be impulsive. There are some great ways to find issues and stories that you have been dying to get without breaking the bank at first sight.
Here are some strategies that I suggest you take in starting the bargain hunting search.
Know Your Price Limit
The first thing that you have to establish is your spending limits with buying comic books. Establishing a maximum price you are willing to pay for an issue or set of issues is important. As a general rule, I tend to not pay over cover price for any modern comic. If an issue is from the early 80s or 1970s, I may bend that rule a bit, but typically I will not pay over cover price. Why? It has been my experience that most books that haunt the back issue bins are there for a reason; the demand isn’t as great as the supply. Current issues seem to be in more demand in most shops than tracking down that issue of Alpha Flight you want. Most shops tend to offer special prices on some back issues too, like 25%-50% off ticketed items in the backissue boxes. While there can be a little flex room for spending, the important part of setting your spending limits is to actually follow them. If you won’t pay anything that is double the cover price of a book, then don’t. Stick to your guns.
Know Your Condition Limit
Of course, setting a price you are willing to play too low can also impact the condition of the book you are able to buy. Me? I don’t care so much about the condition of a book. I’ve bought books that have looked like some frat boy waking up on a Sunday morning behind a dumpster, having pissed and shit himself, wearing only a bra, lipstick, a mullet Whig, and an adult diaper. You? Well, you might be more finicky when it comes to the condition of the books in your collection. Knowing that you will only buy issues that are at least Fine/Very Fine condition is a good thing to know because that can help determine your price limits.
Buy in Bulk
Sam’s, BJ’s, Costco and other like-minded retailers try to tell you that buying in bulk can be good. It’s definitely true for comics as well. Sometimes, comic book shops will sell sets of certain comics. The price discrepancy can vary from shop to shop, but these sets are generally priced fairly. Generally. I don’t buy these sets at shops so much because they typically sell them for a bit more than cover price. A local shop does run a special “buy two, get one free” on these sets that I partake of a few times a year, but usually these items tend to be out of my price range. I have found that e-Bay is the site to go to find better buys on bulk issue sets. I don’t do it often, but e-Bay auctions can have some fairly lean prices on certain sets. As with anything on e-Bay, it just depends on how much the seller rapes you on shipping charges. A few years ago, I bought the entire American Flagg! Run for around $20 through three different lots. That price included shipping too. Score.
Search Bargain Bins at Your Own Risk
Comic shop bargain bins also typically have bulk deals, but I have found those to be more of a hassle due to the fact they aren’t often alphabetized. Ugh. I hate that fact due to my own lazy nature. Many fans derive joy from sifting through these bargain bins, but I generally can’t be bothered with that much effort. This isn’t to say that bargains can’t be found there. Indeed, they can be. A couple of years ago I did find Dark Knight Returns 1-4 in a $1 bin. That is more of an outlier than anything else, but bargains can be found. I just don’t have time to rummage through fifteen boxes of 1990s shit to find one or two issues. I have better things to do with my time. Much better things to do with my time. I can’t really give you an example of that now, but trust me, I’m sure I do have better things to do.
Go for the Trade
If you aren’t necessarily on the hunt for individual issues as much as you are for reading the stories, trades are the best way to go. They offer you the best bang for your buck. Not only have many publishers upped production on their TPB collections, most now offer bargain priced black and white or digest sized reprints for a fairly reasonable price. Some shops even place those on sale. Just this past weekend, I visited a shop in Anderson, SC that was having a Marvel Essentials sale, with each volume clocking in at $10 each. Amazon and e-Bay often have great TPB prices, especially in Amazon’s used section. You can often buy used trades for well below half of the cover price. In fact, I buy most of my trades used now due to the cost. Like Sir Mix-A-Lot, when someone else wants to toss it, I pull quick to retrieve it.
Follow these steps and you will be on the road to cheapness. Being frugal about comic collecting is all about patience and setting limits. With great savings come great responsibilities.
Next time, I make the case against big event books. You won’t want to miss that, especially if you’re hopelessly addicted to whatever slop the Big Two are slinging our way in terms of events these days. What goes around comes around.
See you then!
Welcome to the next round of Preview Review! Going through the Previews is one of my favorite things to do each month and I like to try something new almost every month, something that piques my interest that is not published by the "Big 2". After waiting for a bit, some of them have finally shown up and I have finally gotten through them. Will they be as good as I thought they would be? This month's reviews include Modern Masters: John Romita Jr., Warren Ellis's new Avatar series No Hero and a bonus review of the Dark Horse classic X Omnibus Volume 1. Which got my pick for Book of the Month?
MODERN MASTERS SC VOL 18 JOHN ROMITA JR
By George Khoury and Eric Nolen-Weathington
BOOK OF THE MONTH WINNER!
John Romita Jr. is one of my favorite artists and I was thrilled that he would have his own Modern Master book. These books are absolutely wonderful, they provide fantastic in-depth interviews with a ton of unpublished sketches and art. This volume did not disappoint. It takes you through his whole career and I was surprised to learn a couple of things. Did you know that he was going to quit Marvel after the debacle of Star Brand? Did you know that Jim Lee invited him to be part of Image but he didn't want to leave the Uncanny X-Men and Punisher? Did you know that he felt betrayed by Bob Harras and Kelly Converse because they screwed him out of his second run on Uncanny and almost left comics for good again? If you are a fan of John Romita Jr, I highly recommend getting this book. A+
BOOK OF THE MONTH WINNER!
NO HERO #0
By Warren Ellis and Juan Jose Ryp
Published by Avatar Press
I'll pick up anything that Ellis pens but some his work with Avatar Press leaves something to be desired. I took a chance on this series because it was so cheap and his last series Black Summer was so awesome. The premise of the book is that back in the 60's, a drug called FX was developed that allowed users to gain super abilities. I really enjoyed this short preview, it gave a fascinating look at how the drug affected the people who took it. There is a sense of wonder and dread in these pages which makes me really look forward to this series. This issue felt real to me, meaning that it was like I was reading a history text instead of a comic. This is what Ellis does best. The art by Black Summer artist Juan Jose Ryp is incredibly detailed and the best I have seen yet of his work. A-
X Omnibus Volume 1
Published by Dark Horse Comics
I absolutely love what Dark Horse comics have done with this Omnibus line. You get a nice compact book with over 300 pages of full color comics for such a cheap price. Combine that with the fact that I have a fondness with the Dark Horse Heroes line of comics and I have a winner. I will pick up every volume of the Dark Horse Heroes that come out as an Omnibus. This month I am reviewing the first volume of X and I was surprised at how violent and how much I enjoyed it. Basically this is X's one man battle against crime and in Arcadia there is a lot of crime and no one is safe from X. If you cross the line once, he will give you a warning, cross it twice and you have been marked with an 'X' and marked for death. The latter issues were the best of this volume, X battles Lord Alamout where we get some small peaks at who X is behind the mask. The one drawback of this collection is that we only follow the action (and there is a lot of that) but we do not get to know who X is. Apparently there is more to him than just him and his gun and has to be more than human but we don't know it in this volume. I look forward to the next volume of X. This gets a solid B.
Next month I will return with a couple of new reviews. Flash Gordon #1 is on the list and hopefully a few more! I may sneak in a review of X Omnibus Vol 2 or another book that I read that doesn't come from Big 2.
We'll see you in the back of the Previews.
When you look at your collection, do you feel a comic book shaped void? Go ahead, you can admit it. We’re all missing something considered essential by fans. Occasionally, I’ll offer some sage-like (read; asshole) advice on what every respectable collection should include. Don’t have it in your collection yet? Your Namor bust should hang its head in shame. The old. The new. The obscure. The iconic. It will all be represented. The only thing I can promise is that I’ll at least leave Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns off. I mean, let’s face brass tax here, folks. If you don’t own those two yet, I’ll need to collect your service weapon and badge as you exit the building.
Locas: The Maggie & Hopey Stories, Fantagraphic Books
By Jaime Hernandez
Available in HC or individually throughout Love & Rockets Volume 1 #’s 1-50
Love & Rockets is one of the best independent comic books ever produced. The sometimes madcap antics contained within either volume of the series, the first run from 1982-1995 or the latest incarnation published from 2001 to the present. You could effectively stack up the works of Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez against any of the big name creators today and have a very proud representation of the breadth and scope of the possibilities of the comic book medium. My favorite stories from Love & Rockets have always been the Maggie and Hopey stories. Of the two character, the beleaguered, often frustrated, Maggie is my favorite. Jaime did something very brave with Maggie as a character; he evolved here. In a medium where character evolution (note, this is different than development), Jaime turned Maggie from bombshell babe to a realistic heavyset girl. Time and gravity tame all things. These stories are always funny, seldom boring, and consistently engaging. And what can be said about Hopey? Well, if you don’t find something to at least smile widely at in each story, then you should be ashamed of yourself.
The Ultimates, Volumes 1 & 2, Marvel
By Mark Millar & Brian Hitch
Available in HC, TPB, or individually in Ultimates #’s 1-13 and Ultimates 2 #’s 1-13
Most of the comic book news that has been released lately has been, for me at least, pretty lackluster. The only thing that really set my fanboy heart on fire is the Announcement that Millar would return to his Ultimates roots in writing Ultimate Avengers. The first two volumes of The Ultimates were absolutely plagued by lateness issues. However, having all now completed and having read the totally monotonous Ultimates 3, one can really appreciate the original stories. I believe this is a modern day classic. Gone are the positive beams of optimism Stan Lee & Co. gave us in the 1960s. The heroes presented in the first two volumes of The Ultimates are heroes for a jaded, post-industrial world readers that understand that the definition of heroics is constantly in flux and often different depending on culture and political leanings. Our supermen are only as super as far as their powers can take them, but they are flawed human beings at their core. The Ultimates stands as a modern morality play on the post-9/11 world. As Stephen King likes to point in his Dark Towers books, the world truly has moved on. In a world where The Ultimates exist as true mirror to mirror reflection of our own cynicisms, how can cheerleader heroes like Superman be relevant? I believe the answer is that they aren’t. Millar and Hitch brought a brutal modern realism to the superhero genre much like what Miller, Moore, Chaykin, and others did in the 1980s. There’s no turning back.
Savage Sword of Conan Volume 1, Dark Horse/Marvel
By John Buscema, Gene Colan, Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Gray Morrow, John Romita, Barry Windsor-Smith, et al.
Available in TPB or in Savage Tales #’s 1-5 and Savage Sword of Conan #’s 1-10
Conan has always been one of those sword and sorcery staples fans have pointed to as being a truly iconic character. As sexist, racist, and xenophobic as some of Robert E. Howard’s stories could be at times, Conan is still one of the principles of the genre. The standard by which any Conan comic should be measured is The Savage Sword of Conan. The regular Marvel series was great, but Conan was never better than in glorious black and white from the Savage Sword title. More akin to the magnificent modern day Conan titles produced by Dark Horse, Savage Sword felt like Robert E. Howard’s vision for Conan than the many pastiches of the day. It was violent, adventuresome, stark, and demanded the full attention of the reader’s imagination. No better celebration Robert e. Howard’s work exists than the stories in this volume. Seeking out the single issues might prove to be an expensive venture in the short run, but just think how magnificent would they look there among your collection.
Promethea Volume #’s 1-5, ABC/DC
By Alan Moore & J.H. Williams III
Available in HC, TPB, and individually in Promethea #’s 1-32
Alan Moore is obviously a prolific writer who has written so many classics that it is almost impossible to think that anyone would be lacking in the “Alan Moore Department” of their collection. However, many fans have passed on Promethea. Why? I’m not quite sure. Maybe there aren’t enough fisticuffs to keep the fight-of-the-month crowd interested. The reading is dense and rich as Moore explores the multifaceted ideas of magic, life, and reality. In a day and age where an average comic takes about 5-10 seconds to read, Promethea gave you plenty to read and think about for at least an hour. While in college, I remember I would pick up the issue of Promethea on a Friday, read it, and return to the book store the following day to have a discussion about the issue. Those were some of the most intellectually stimulating moments of my life. And it was about a comic book. Will wonders never cease? Moore’s poetic writing is complimented by William’s exquisite drawing and homage covers. One has to wonder how Moore always seems to get the perfect complimentary artist for his stories. Maybe it’s magic. Tracking these issues down in any format, collected or individually, will be well worth the effort.
Super F*ckers #’s 1-4
By James Kochalka
Available in Super F*ckers #’s 271 (1), 273 (2), 277 (3), & 279 (4)
I said in a recent article here that Kochalka is the funniest man creating comic books today. Period. I stand by that statement. Case in point? Super F*uckers. Why? If Millar paints a realistically bleak picture of the socio-political elements of our society, Super F*ckers is a glimpse into how real young adults would handle the responsibility and melodrama of being in a team. The result? Petty, asinine disputes that will make you laugh. The team’s leader is gone, so therefore the team devolves into pretty much mental mush. Add superpowers to the typical young adult dynamic, and you have a charged recipe for hilarity. Even the numbering of the title is off to give readers a sense of “you’ve missed some things” that adds to the humor. The comedy comes fast, engaging, and acceptably immature to great effect. This is what the New Mutants would probably be like. I just wish more issues would come out. Perhaps then a trade would be issue. Until then, the issues are still available and fans can get them for s mere $3 at Top Shelf for a limited time.
That’s it this week. Be sure you check back next week where I will once again I hope to prod and poke you with all of my idiotic opinion on collecting.
How does the old song go? If I had a hammer, I’d @#%* up Skrulls in the morning, I’d @#%* up Skrulls in the evening....Man, if only someone in the Marvel Universe had a hammer, all our heroes’ troubles would be solved.
Oh @#%* yeah! Who loves you now!
New Avengers #44
Brian Michael Bendis, Billy Tan
The Internet told me this was an important issue of NA that would explain everything to me. And since I believe EVERYTHING the Internet tells me, I brought it home and read it first. Well, it does tell you how the Skrulls infiltrated Earth. That is, it tells you how the Skrulls stole from Reed Richards’ mind the method by which they could shapeshift even their DNA so as to be undetectable by any of Earth’s heroes or technologies. So, you ready for this? When the Illuminati went to the Skrull Throneworld, Skrullerdome, to tell the Skrulls that they would not tolerate any more attempted Earth invasions, they were captured for a short time. Obviously, they escaped, but the Skrulls managed to clone them all with super sophisticated Skrull technology (I wonder who has the superior technology, the Skrulls or the Shi’ar?) that allowed the Skrulls to create scenarios where the cloned heroes would discuss what they should do to prepare against another Skrull invasion. That’s right. Skrull cloning technology included the ability to transfer all intelligence, thoughts and ability to apply existing thoughts to new thoughts....yeah, it’s a little farfetched, but we’ll accept it. Through these experiments, the Skrulls learned that Reed Richards has in his mind--and therefore in his clone’s mind--the knowledge the Skrulls seek. Unfortunately, their mindreader isn’t smart enough to understand what Reed’s thinking, so they have to try something tricky. The set up a scenario with the clone and SkrullSue and SkrullFranklin that tricks SkrullCloneReed into writing it all down. And there you have it. This is how the Skrulls snuck their dirty butts onto our planet. And it’s why Reed Richard is SkrullEnemy Numero Uno and our only hope. Grade: B
Secret Invasion #6
Brian Michael Bendis, Leinil Francis Yu
Why are so many people bored with this event? Aside from issue #4, which was a steaming pile of Nothing Happened, I think it’s been terrific fun. This issue sees Mar-Skrull finding Marvel Boy, the Skrull Empress reuniting with her Skrull forces at the Inititative’s headquarters, delusional civilians welcoming the Skrulls as saviors, Earth’s heroes flying from the Savage Land to the now-destroyed New York City, and the return of everybody’s favorite Norse god, walking tall and carrying a BIG hammer. Look out, Skrullscum! There is the odd coloring on the plane from the Savage Land (Punisher is blonde), and the art is the typical muddied affair for this series....that is until the last two-page spread. You know, where our heroes--Avengers, Young Avengers, Thunderbolts, those D-listers the Hood collected, Nick Fury’s strangers, Wolverine (now that I think about it, was he not fighting Skrulls in San Francisco?)--and the Skrulls finally face off against each other. It’s real purty. Dan stared at it for several minutes. I think he drooled too, but I didn’t point it out for fear of embarrassing him. Clearly, Yu has been rushing through every single panel so that he could put all his efforts into that battle. Grade: B+
Secret invasion: Inhumans #2
Joe Pokaski, Tom Raney
What's the next best thing to a big hammer for @#%*ing up Skrulls? Crazy long kickass hair. This mini-series isn’t only the best SI tie-in, it’s better than Secret Invasion itself. In fact, I don’t know if I’m enjoying any Marvel comic as much as I am this one. I used to think that I wanted Sean McKeever to come back to Marvel just to write a new Inhumans series, but now, I don’t know who Joe Pokaski is, but if he doesn’t get an ongoing Inhumans series after this, then I’m going to have to believe that Joe Quesada is on crack or he hates me. Or both. I mean, come on, who could hate me? Crack addicts, that’s who. Although, with Emma Frost’s ever-growing prominence in the MU, I suppose I already could be running with the crack addict theory. But I think this it was they call a digression. Karnak, Gorgon and Crystal kick all kinds of dirty Skrullbutt while Medusa gets extra nasty with her husband’s impersonator, subjecting him to repeated doses of terrigen mists to torture Black Bolt’s location out of him. Then Medusa takes a small, elite team to rescue her husband. I think she leaves Lockjaw in charge. Sure, Maximus is king, but I think he’s busy cowering somewhere. I was surprised to learn that Medusa and Black Bolt have a son. How did I miss that? I was even more surprised when the Skrulls stole Black Bolt’s voice. Holy *. This book is so cool. Grade: A
Here we are, ready for our tenth issue of ALL STAR BATMAN AND ROBIN THE BOY WONDER, and DC issues a recall because you can read they didn't do a good enough job blacking out all the swears that Frank Miller wrote. So why we wait for the long awaited issue to be pulped and reprinted, it seems like a good moment to sit back, look back at the first nine issues, and ask ourselves, "what the hell was Frank Miller and Jim Lee thinking?!" So, now the Bad Genious would like to present the wildest, wackiest, craziest moments that made fandom put their funny books down, look at each other, and say "what the F*@%?"
#1: Talking with Green Lantern Batman finds a way to deal with Hal Jordan. You have to think why didn't Sonar or Black Hand ever use this method.
I love that he's drinking lemonade. It pushes the gag that much farther. And you'll now how Batman refers to himself, which brings us to bullet point #2...
#2: THE GODDAMN BATMAN: No one noticed when Vicky Vale called him by his newest trademarked name (Granted, we were paying more attention to her underwear parade when she rolled out the name).
Clark Kent is way too proper of a young man to say the whole thing out loud, but we all know he is thinking it.
Black Canary seems to think it's his first name.
But everyone takes notice when our favorite playboy millionaire start referring to himself as "The Goddamn Batman!"
#3: Batman Rolls Over Some Cops. So Batman, you've just saved your future sidekick from corupt police officers. Now what are you going to do?
"I'm going to run them over like roadkill!"
All Star Batman- Bringing you the pure Batman you grew up with!
#4: The Introduction of Wonder Woman: We start out with Wonder Woman walking to a meeting with the Justice League. And she just feels like sharing her view of men as she walks along: Sperm-Banks!
Then we have the Amazon's view on what to do with the "Batman Problem."
And then she reacts as only woman on TV or in Frank Miller comics act. Namely "I Hate you! You make me sick! Yet, you turn me on and must have my way with you."
Somehow, I don't think this is what Adam Huges had in mind when he signed up to produce ALL-STAR WONDER WOMAN.
#5: THE VICKI VALE FASHION SHOW
And our final moment...
#6: Batman hooks up with Black Canary
Black Canary. In the DCU, she's a strong willed, strong female. Leader of the Justice League. And not someone who you would want to mess with.
All-Star Black Canary, not quite the strong female role model we see in her own book. Hence her jumping Batman's bones the second she see him.
That's all for today. Until Batgirl beats up gang members while shouting profanities, make mine All-Star Batman!
There was no Fables in this month's shipment. Total suck. At least there was a healthy dose of controversy, what with Wendy and Marvin biting the big one (or is that the Big One biting Wendy and Marvin?). Speaking of biting, Scott and Emma are up to all kinds of suck in their book and all those people involved with Red Skull are up to all kinds of no good in Bucky's book. Gee, I'm one disgruntled fangirl this month. I hate when that happens.
Captain America #41
Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting
When I read this title, I find it excellent. The art (when Epting is on) is gorgeous and the writing is intelligent, well-paced and intriguing. But when I think about the title, I get frustrated. I’ve felt like we’re just treading water--cool, interesting water, but water nonetheless--since Steve Rogers was killed and everything is just slowly building to his eventual return. Don’t we all expect him to be back by the end of Secret Invasion? Of course we do. But what really frustrates me is that no matter much I enjoyed reading an issue, I can barely remember what happened once I’m done. Even now, as I sit here flipping through to refresh my memory, not much is coming back. Dr. Faustus is double-crossing the Red Skull. Okay. Sharon Carter may or may not have actually been pregnant but whatever. She isn’t now so she’s free to fight her way out of captivity. Black Widow has a neat-o flying car. Am I missing anything? Yes, but also no, and that’s the problem. Bucky is a really cool character, but despite the last page proclamation, he really is not Captain America and this title is kind of pointless until Steve Rogers returns. Grade: B+
Uncanny X-Men #501
Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Greg Land
Wow. I hated this. I mean really, really hated it. Let me start by saying that it seems obvious to me the Brubaker didn’t write a word of this. (See how I didn’t open with a rant about how much I detest Greg Land’s art?) The characters’ voices are all wrong. What the hell was that conversation between Scott and Emma? I mean besides vomit-inducing? He called her “babe.” And “baby.” Then he rambled like a mental patient when Emma caught him attempting to build a crib. And who cares if the pink-haired chick got beaten up? Who the hell is she? Oh, Beast’s got his dexterity back. That’s not totally, ridiculously random. If you want to phase out CatBeast, you can’t just do it as an aside. It should be a story in its own right. I’d guess Brubaker’s involvement comes in with the Red Queen plotline. My money’s on her somehow being Madelyn Pryor and working some kind of mind control not only over her little group, but over the X-Men as well to make them act all weird. But I’m not hanging around to find out. That’s right. I’m dropping Uncanny X-Men until Dan tells me something’s happened that worth coming back for. Hopefully by then, Greg Land will have moved on to a new project. Grade: D
Teen Titans #62
Sean McKeever, Eddy Barrows
After reading all the Internet hoopla about this issue, I had to check it out. Would I be slapped in the face? Would my childhood be raped? I thought “probably not,” but you never know. Two things you should know: I don’t read Teen Titans and Sean McKeever is one of my favorite people in the world. My page one impression was that this Wendy and Marvin don’t look anything like MY Super Friends Wendy and Marvin. Slap-in-the-face #1, courtesy of Eddy Barrows. My page three impression was that this Wendy and Marvin are super annoying—slap-in-the-face #2, courtesy of Sean McKeever—and they NEED to die, which we’ll go ahead and call slap-in-the-face #3. With all this face-slapping, how could McKeever possibly find the time to also rape my childhood? Well, I’m sorry to say he didn’t. In fact, by page six, I took back the face-slapping and started thanking the creative team for what’s to come. I hate these characters. I don’t know what they’ve done in this title previously (having only read three issues ever), but nothing in this issue leads me to believe they’re an important part of the team. In fact, I got the impression that they’re really a detriment. They welcomed this mysterious, stray dog with no investigation. They reconstructed Cyborg, but I get the feeling this guy isn’t exactly on the up-and-up. And they whine incessantly. I mean, non-stop. So by the time Wonderdog rips apart Marvin’s neck, I was cheering. And ten year old me would have thought that was coolest thing ever. Not because I would have hated Wendy and Marvin, but because it was unexpected and freaking holy shit cool. Now, to address some legitimate complaints. Apparently, the same thing happened with a dog in 52 or something? Okay, well, that’s clearly alluded to with a copy of 52 lying on Marvin’s bloody floor, so I’d suspect that there’s a reason for the copycat attack. The team was stupid to accept the dog no questions asked. I’d say that was to demonstrate that everyone’s too distracted by their own problems to handle things properly. Miss Martian left and she’s the bestest character. Do we know that where she’s going and what she’s dealing with aren’t going to be covered in this book and tie into everything? For me, the only thing I really found wrong with this is that it doesn’t read like the Sean McKeever I love. His writing seems stilted and not natural. Definitely not up to the same standards as his Marvel and Indy work. I could speculate why that is, but there’s little point in it. Oh, I didn’t like the art at all, though I thought Barrows did a wonderful job conveying the tension and fear as Wendy ran for her life. Grade: B Read more!