Comics Update June 2015
Here’s everything I read in June. I’m giving my thoughts here because I wasn’t on the Comics.Community podcast much last month and had no way of expressing my incredibly valuable insights.
Not a great month for Marvel even though I bought several titles. I was disappointed in several of my regular books and even the one new title I bought. That said, Secret Wars is still amazingly good. If this was the new Marvel continuity going forward I wouldn’t be upset and it would be a damn bold move on their part.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1
This is the story of how the world would have been different if the events of Civil War and One More Day hadn’t revealed Peter’s secret identity and erased his marriage to Mary Jane. It’s also a subtle middle finger to all the fans who hated those two controversial events by reinforcing the idea that Peter Parker can’t be Spider-Man, and can’t be a true hero, if he has other responsibilities like a wife and family.
Bull-snot, I say. Bull-snot.
SECRET WARS #3
The saga of Battle World continues to twist and turn as doctors Doom and Strange each reveal some secrets and also make plans for the future. Also, some loose ends show up in the forms of 616 and Ultimate characters who were missing at the end of Time Runs Out.
The writing and worldbuilding in this event have been better than I could have ever expected. I’ve decided to appreciate each issue as it comes just in case the excellence can’t be sustained for the entire run. If the writing falters then at least I’ll have this time to appreciate what they’ve produced thus far.
STAR WARS #6
I’m falling out of love with the new Star Wars comics. The writing and art seem to be dipping in quality. It’s not a bad comic, but it is sliding from its lofty perch atop my pull list and will probably be cut from the list altogether after this month.
STAR WARS: DARTH VADER #6
Darth Vader was the one Star Wars title that was holding its ground on my pull list, but now this one seems to be losing steam and losing focus on what made it so good. The best part of this book was the tension between Vader and the Emperor.
As Sith Lords, their master and apprentice relationship is always hanging on a thread because there can only be one master and one apprentice. Meaning, Vader is always trying to supplant the Emperor as master and the Emperor is always trying to replace Vader with another pupil. Now that the tension between the two is somewhat diffused, so is the book.
STAR WARS: PRINCESS LEIA #4
This story hasn’t really grabbed me, mainly due to the annoying characterization of Leia as such a reckless character. It seems she’s headed towards a character arc where she grows into the more responsible leader that we know from the movies and comics, but it’s an arc that I’ve already seen before.
Ms. MARVEL VOL 3: CRUSHED
Crushed is how I felt after reading the first half of this volume. I had to double and triple check that it was the same creative team on this volume as previous volumes because the writing and story took a dramatic turn for the worse. The language seemed very juvenile and ill-conceived both for the narration and the dialog. Basically, I didn’t like it.
I didn’t have a problem with the story of Kamala being stabbed in the back by her first crush, though the execution was very rushed, but everything before that happened was dreadful. The second half of the book picked up a bit, but the overall mediocrity of this volume has me questioning my own giddy feelings for Ms. Marvel.
Ms. MARVEL #16 Last Days
A few lingering melancholies from her heartbreak in “Crushed” aside, this was a nice bounce-back from the disappointment of Vol. 3.
Issue #16 gets us back to what made Ms. Marvel such a great hero. People in Jersey City need help, so she rushes to the rescue with no questions asked.
Last Days is a tie-in to the big finale of the old 616 MCU and serves as a snapshot of where certain heroes are at as this world ends and Battleworld begins. Also, a nice cameo on the last page makes me interested to see what happens in the final, final issue of Last Days.
With Convergence mostly in the rear-view mirror, DC is starting to unveil what it might look like going forward. If inconsistency was a super power, DC would be Class 5,000.
The new “TRUTH” storyline running through DC comics is… something? I guess. At this point I just don’t understand why all this truthiness is suddenly so important. I see the impact it’s having and how it affects the characters, but I just don’t understand the greater point of the storyline.
Anyway, at this point anything is better than convergence and this new direction is at least somewhat interesting.
Batman is gone. Gotham needs Batman. There is a new Batman. Enter the Robo-Batman. Not an original story by any means, but they’ve managed to add a new twist to it by introducing a new high-tech corporation into Gotham City that’s trying to help Gotham by giving the GCPD their own version of Robocop dressed as Batman. So far, it’s been fun. Which is just about all you can ask for from DC these days.
The world is all about Batman v Superman these days so this book is trying to set up as many “versus” situations as it can. A newly depowered Superman vs. a newly roboticized Batman is the latest scenario that actually puts Batman on the more powerful footing for a change. The first fight was short and sweet, but it looks like they’re going for a rematch next issue that might actually have some stakes.
BLACK CANARY #1
The only DC comic I was truly happy with this month was the new Black Canary title. This is a spin-off of the highly popular and entertaining Batgirl comic wherein we learn that Black Canary wants to give up the superhero lifestyle for a more normal life and therefore decides to be a rock star. Why not, right? Well, in this book we learn the why not.
It looks like this book will be a fun ride, but I wish this first issue had taken a little more time to focus on the band and their life on the road before all the superhero craziness got introduced. I know it’s a “superhero” comic, but I still wish they had let it not be one for at least a few issues.
CONSTANTINE the HELLBLAZER #1
Hmmm. Uh huh. Ehhh. Uhhh. Hmmm. These are the noises I was making as I read issue one of the new Hellblazer comic book. Spoiler, I didn’t like it. I didn’t hate it either, though. There were some good points. Some nods to the character I knew from the first 100 issues of the original Hellblazer. However, by the end of this book I was left feeling like I had just read someone’s Cliff’s Notes version of John Constantine. It’s like the writer was checking off the boxes of what the character was supposed to be like without actually understanding who he is. Or rather, who he once was.
By the end of the issue I had come to the realization that the Constantine I knew only exists in those first hundred issues from way back when. Maybe even the first 50, if I’m honest. Maybe this new John will resonate with a new audience. I hope he does because I’ve already got my version of the character frozen in memory and locked away in back-issues for all time.
Perhaps John Constantine was the perfect character for the perfect time. The end of the 80’s. End of the Cold War. Fear of the future. Suspicion of the past. Old cultural institutions devouring themselves as they crumbled into obsolescence. It was a changing world in 1988, when the first issue of Hellblazer hit the shelves. It was a scary, worrisome, time for many and John Constantine wasn’t the hero who came to save the world or make it better, he was the hero who didn’t give a piss and just came to watch it all burn.
WONDER WOMAN #41
So, after recent events, Wonder Woman is now a god. THE god, in fact. THE god of Mt. Olympus anyway. Baby Zeus and momma Zola are safe. Queen Hera is part of team WW now. The rebellious Amazons are safely incarcerated and everything is going just fine. I guess that means it’s time for a new costume!
The reasoning behind the new costume is solid. She’s shedding the old costume she donned as a girl for a more grown up look. That’s fine. Most people can relate to that idea… I just wish the costume was actually more grown up looking. It looks terrible, to me. It has no style, garish colors, and it looks like someone chewed up every comic book costume ever then vomited out a gross amalgamation of them all.
Anyway, there’s a new mystery brewing. Someone on earth knows she’s the god of war, yadda, yadda, yadda, the costume sucks.
A slim month for Image comics this month, but the one title that I did pick up was well worth it.
EMPTY ZONE #1
Man. I can’t stop thinking about this comic. The moment after I finished the last page, I had to go back and start reading it again to figure out what I missed. Turns out that I didn’t actually miss anything. I just failed to understand what I had read.
This is a very exciting new series that I can’t wait to keep reading. The setting is a strange mix of futuristic with post-apocalypse that very much reminds me of proper Cyberpunk. The main character is a tortured enigma whom, after one issue, I have dubbed “the cybernetic John Constantine” for the way she’s tortured by literal and figurative ghosts from her shadowy past. She also has some mysterious connection to and control over technology that reminds me of Constantine’s relationship with magic.
A book like this is why I read comics. Go read it for yourself.
Perhaps through necessity Dark Horse is slowly but surely moving away from their licensed titles and towards more new creator owned titles. This should be a good thing, and it is, but their titles just don’t have quite the same appeal as Image comics. Not yet anyway.
The Dark Horse comics I bought this month are good, but not great.
HARROW COUNTY #2
I’m enjoying the creepy and mysterious vibe that Harrow County is putting out, but I will admit that the story is a bit slow with the details of what exactly is going on. I’m rather enjoying the slow burn of this story, though I do understand that it might not be for everyone.
More American Revolution! That’s a good thing. Read your history people!
In this issue our hero, Seth, meets up with the legendary patriot Ethan Allen and decides to join him on a military campaign. This does not sit well with Seth’s new bride, but… freedom and stuff. Seth’s reasoning for leaving home once again are short and not well explained, but he’s a patriot dammit! So, his reasons are self evident.
This is a very slow comic with a lot of historical and political references that might (let’s just say it) bore the snot out of some comic book readers. I, however, am soldiering on like a good patriot to see if things pick up once the actual war begins in earnest.
IDW seems to be hedging their bets by publishing nice, safe, license based titles that are sure to sell alongside more risky and risque titles that might not appeal to a wide audience. This observation is, of course, based on my own pull list that includes a wacky sci-fi comedy, a lesbian time-travel romance, and a licensed title that has somehow managed to create a crossover event with itself.
The conclusion to D4VE is pretty much what I thought it would be as soon as the new aliens were introduced into the story. This made for a more exciting, yet more predictable, story and really changed the flow of the book from a story about a guy/robot past his prime to a guy/robot looking for redemption. It wasn’t a bad change, but it was a bit disappointing to me because it felt like I was reading the Incredibles, except with lewd robots instead of Pixar cartoons.
GHOSTBUSTERS: GET REAL #1
Hrm. A neat idea poorly executed. Getting the comic book Ghostbusters together with the Animated Ghostbusters via a dimensional rift is a fun idea, but we JUST had basically the exact same thing happen with the TMNT/GB crossover and the 1st issue of this crossover showed no signs of being much different or superior to the previous crossover.
THE INFINITE LOOP #3
More wacky timey-wimey adventures with Teddy and Ano, complete with fairly graphic lesbian sex! Yowza. That was a little startling to see in a comic, but I’m a bit of a prude. It’s not that I disapprove, it’s just that my delicate sensibilities weren’t quite prepared. I guess I’m not European enough. Anyway. I continue to enjoy this French import by IDW.
This issue shows us what a status quo might look like between time travelling lovers who can create pocket dimensions that shift and change with their moods and whims. Then it abruptly shakes that status quo to the core with a mind-bending plot twist that leaves one of one of our heroes with a terrible choice to make. Should she save her love, or save the entire universe?
*Note – After reading these reviews again I’ve realized that I was pretty harsh on the month of June. I really do like comics. I swear!