AA’s Judgment: Comics of 7/16/08

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Alrighty nerds and nerdettes: Are you gearing up for another week of comics, but still aren’t completely sure how you should have felt about last week’s? You’re in luck, because your Uncle AA is about to explain to you what you should have liked and not liked with his weekly rundown of The Best, the Worst, and all The Rest. If you thought you felt otherwise, now you’ll be able to hastily change your opinion.

There’s slight spoilers in the “Worst” section, but trust me, they won’t make any difference if your enjoyment.

THE BEST

Final Crisis: Rogue’s Revenge #1 (Writer: Geoff Johns. Artist: Scott Kolins)

For the record, I went with the Captain Cold variant cover instead of the one above, but it doesn’t really matter which one you get. What does matter is this comic, which was amazing. As I mentioned in my weekly buy list, Final Crisis: Requiem set the bar pretty damn high for this crossover’s specials, but Rogue’s Revenge lives up to it. Frankly, Grant Morrison needs to take off in the main miniseries, because these one-shots and limited series are kicking his ass early on. Anyway, this book gives readers the return of Johns and Kolins to Flash, a creative team widely regarded as having easily one of the top 5 runs ever on any Flash, and they were first or second for me in my fairly limited Flash experience. Their return quickly reminded us what we’d been missing the past three years, though somewhat humorously, Wally West doesn’t doesn’t actually make an appearance. You don’t miss him, however, because Johns’ writing of the Rogues is just so spectacular. Kolins, meanwhile, while always a very talented artist, might have actually gotten even better since leaving Flash. It could be because I haven’t seen him in a while, but his art seems to have gotten darker, which suited the undertones of this book perfectly, and the facial emotions really jump out at you. His final page may have looked a little overexaggerated, but I won’t hold it against him. In conclusion, even if you’re not crazy about Final Crisis so far, hell, even if you’re not crazy abotu Flash, you still need to buy this book, because is how villains are supposed to be.

 

Captain America #40 (Writer: Ed Brubaker. Artist: Steve Epting)

Standing toe-to-toe with Rogue’s Revenge (and doing so with ease) this week was the latest installment in Ed Brubaker’s brilliant Captain America saga. At last, it’s Cap vs. Cap, and it doesn’t disappoint. As the story builds ever clsoer to its conclusion, you can feel the tension on every page as you wonder how all this is going to finally shake out. Brubaker has so thoroughly turned the world on its head that things will never really be the same; all that remains to be seen is who will escape from the carnage of this epic, and how scarred they’ll be. This issue has some huge implications toward those questions, delivering excitement and drama while setting us up for whatever comes next. Steve Epting’s pencils are just gorgeous as his gives us crisp characters and effortless action scenes. At this point in the story, there’s really no point in me writing a concluding recommendation; by now, you’re either buying it and are jsut as enthralled as the rest of us, or you’re not, and you’re missing out. If you are a member of the unfortunate latter, you can’t really jump in for the last two issues (three, counting this one) of the epic, but please, do yourself a favor and make getting caught up on Brubaker’s run a priority. you won’t regret it.

 

THE WORST

Mighty Avengers #16 (Writer: Brian Michael Bendis. Artist: Khoi Pham.)

Well, it’s a week with an Avengers tie-in for Secret Invasion, so it just wouldn’t be a “WORST” section without me ragging on Brian Michael Bendis’ determination to give readers as little actual story for their money as he possibly can. To be fair, this issue was better than most of the SI issues from his two Avengers titles. It was cool to see Elektra put up such a great fight, considering a lot of Earth’s mightiest have gone down much, much more easily. But it was 3-5 pages of material stretched out across 22. Khoi Pham’s pencils weren’t bad per say, but nor were they impressive. The solit promised that this issue would contain the answer to the “biggest question in modern Avengers history,” but guess what, it doesn’t. To be fair, we’ve seen that solit writers are terrible, and some one probably got this issue mixed up with another one; it’s annoying, but not really Bendis’ fault, since authors don’t handle the preview material. So even if I give him a fair pass on that one, what I did find inexcusable was that this issue didn’t even answer the one thing it did intend to show: namely, what happened to Elektra. Yes, we get her fight and eventual replacing, but is she dead? Is she just a captive? You can’t tell, and the issue sure doesn’t spell it out. If Bendis is trying to build up drama for some big reveal on that later, he should stop, because all this issue gave us is what we’ve known for two years: Elektra was replaced by a Skrull. So wow, thanks for nothing.

Before I move on, I think it’s only fair that I cut Bendis a bit of a break, since I take shits on his books often. And yes, these Avengers books have thoroughly deserved them during SI, because he’s been doing two a month for four months, and I think there’s only been one fairly good issue in the bunch, with the rest ranging from mediocre to god awful. But now the part where I cut some slack: when Bendis came up with the whole Secret Invasion concept, he envisioned it as a story just bouncing back and forth between his two Avengers books. According to reports at elast, it was Marvel’s idea to make a miniseries and involve the entire MU. So, consider that Bendis clearly thinks a long way in advance, as is evidenced by the fact that he’d apparently been planting Skrulls since his first issue. Then, he’s told that what he’d planned for his books is being pulled out into a mini, but he still needs something for the two Avengers titles still. I don’t know for certain that’s the way it happened, but I think it is. It fits with the early interviews about the project, and it makes sense with what’s happened (or rather, not happened) in New and Mighty. As bad as Bendis often is with drawing things out too much, this has gotten ridiculous even by his standards. But imagine the miniseries, which has been spectacular, split between two books, with condensed versions of what’s been going on in New and Mighty (and like I said, it wouldn’t be hard to condense), and you have an entirely different situation that makes Bendis look much better. Having said all that, I don’t magically forgive him for how bad this and other issues were. A lot of other writers had to make adjustments for this crossover as well; it comes with the territory. But I did think it was only fair that I point out some of his challenges, since I’m certainly not going to stop hating on him when he writes issues that waste my money (nor will I stop praising him when he writes great stuff, which he also does).

 

THE REST

 

X-Factor #33 (Writer: Peter David. Artist: Larry Stroman)

I think in this issue, Peter David stumbled across the key to a good Secret Invasion tie-in: make it have as little to with Secret Invasion as possible. A brilliant stategy really, and it worked well. The focus of most of this issue was further eastablishing the team’s new status quo while setting some things into motion that will have impacts down the road. Then there were the cool nods to rarely used X-characters, and eventually, the Secret Invasion set up. PAD seems to have decided that if he’s going to have to write SI tie-ins, he might as well kill two birds with one stone and make a story that can span both of his mainstream titles, as X-Factor and She-Hulk start their own little mini crossover within a crossover. By issue’s end, it was becoming fairly obvious where he plans to go with this, and I’d be willing to bet that XF uses SI more as a backdrop while trying to advance its own plots, as in this issue, while msot of the real SI-related meat comes in SH. Hopefully it’s not all too predictable, because I could see it becoming so, but I’d be fine with it if that arrangement is the case. By the way, I’ll be buying She-Hulk during this crossover and using this as a chance to test out the book, see just how much I like it. Back to this issue, while the writing was very enjoyable, the art was thoroughly unimpressive. I’m hoping Larry Stroman is just a guest artist who won’t be around past this crossover (and if not past this issue, even better), because if I had a “Worst Art of the Week” prize, he’d win it.

 

X-Force #5 (Writers: Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost. Artist: Clayton Crain)

X-Force makes its first splash into my Judgments, meaning I can’t use “XF” to abbreviate X-Factor anymore, though I did so anyway. But yeah, let’s cut to the chase: I’d never heard of any of the creators on the book, and I didn’t read any of the first four issues, so there was one reason and one reason only that I bought this book: Archangel. As in, he’s back, as Archangel, which is huge. Warren was already a great character for decades, whose brutal transformation to Archangel made him all the more tormented and likeable. Just as important, it made him a huge offensive force. When he coverted back, it made for a spectacular issue where he gets his old wings, but in many ways, it also doomed him. After having been Archangel, former Horseman of Death, for so long, he was back to just being a guy with wings, and since character dynamics had changed so that everyone flies, he was nothing important, and writers didn’t want him. Chris Claremont couldn’t a way to make him productive, but still wanted to use Psylocke, so he chose to make things easier on himself by just splitting the pair up (after they’d become one of the best X-couples), and so Warren lost even more. Chuck Austen at least tried to give him a niche by adding the healing blood, but it was as awful as everything Austen ever did.

So, to this issue, where actually, after an extremely cool scene that opened over the first few pages of the book, Archangel wasn’t a really huge part of the action. The story focused more on Wolfsbane and her antagonists. The story seemed fairly complicated, and I didn’t get it all at times, so a lot of the big moments had no impact on me which is what I get/deserve for jumping in half-assed. But this is an intriguing book that uses a few cool and underrated characters: not just Rahne, but also Warparth. I’m not crazy about Wolvy being there, since he’s already in every other book in the MU, but it was worth it for this issue at least, since he had the best interaction/thoughts on Warren. I couldn’t tell for sure who the other two team members were. Crain’s painted art was gorgeous at times, perfectly intense at times, and at times, just too over the top. It’s art that you know is great, but I don’t think it’s best suited for a monthly action comic; a mini or more serious story would complement his style better. Anyway, I’ll buy issue #6, the conclusion to the story arc, to see what else happens with Warren. I think there’s a decent chance he could join the team after that, in which case I’ll probably end up giving this title a more extended look.

Writers of the Week: Geoff Johns, Final Crisis: Rogue’s Revenge #1 and Ed Brubaker, Captain America #40.

Artists of the Week: Scott Kolins, Final Crisis: Rogue’s Revenge #1 and Steve Epting, Captain America #40, with apologies to Clayton Crain of X-Force.

Line of the Week: “My mom owes her life to seatbelts. Anyone here got a problem with that?”  -Strong Guy, X-Factor #33.

 

OK, that’s all for me folks. Sorry it was late, and sorry I wrote more than was probably necessary. But hey,this was a strong week, and I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did.

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One Response to “AA’s Judgment: Comics of 7/16/08”

  1. spiffyithaca Says:

    We both loved Rogues’, but I think you liked it more, although it’s hard to tell, since the only other title you bought that I did as well was Mighty, and that’s not even a comparison. That said, I didn’t think Kolins has gotten any better. He’s still awesome, I just wouldn’t say awesome-r.

    Man I can’t wait for the next two issues of Captain America. Seriously, what happens after those issues? Does Brubaker leave? If not, what can he follow this up with? Coming in issue #43″, the “Birth of Captain America”.

    X-Force sounds like it could be cool, but I don’t really care. And I remember being impressed by PAD’s ability to turn the company wide crossover into a way to progress his titles and tie them together. PAD’s a creative man. Too bad you don’t read his best book: Marvel Adventures Hulk.

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