Summer Reading Part Three: Take Another Bruboliday, With a Fraction of Diggle and Jock and a Jurgen

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After that wretched play on words (if you could even call it that) that doesn’t make any sense, featuring some of the writers and artists that worked on this month’s crop of trades for Summer Reading, which, as usual, is brought to you by yours truly, Spiffy. The last part was dominated by Marvel stud Ed Brubaker, and this week, in perhaps the last part in everyone’s least favorite segment on GGG, we have two more trades with contributions by said stud, but accompanied by some other fine gentlemen in the comics industry. What follows are 4 quick reviews of trades that are perfect for the summer season, before required textbooks come into play.

And now from least best to best….because as usual, there isn’t a bad one in the bunch.

 

Green Arrow: Year One: Written by Andy Diggle, with art by Jock.

 

 

 

This was one of the first trades I purchased when I came back into comics, because after hearing a flood of “meh’s” directed toward the current Green Arrow/Black Canary title, I needed to find some good Oliver Queen. Turns out, this origin story was just the ticket, and a gushing introduction by Brian K. Vaughan sealed the deal. Diggle and Jock are a famous duo, responsible for Vertigo’s great Losers. Here, they retell Green Arrow’s first year, taking the format that Frank Miller made famous and that DC has used as a crutch, to boost the sales of mini series (see Huntress and Two-Face). While I haven’t read the others, this one deserves the moniker. It starts with Ollie and his friend and bodyguard Hackett in the North country, where Ollie’s recklessness almost dares the question of whether he wants to live anymore. Ollie’s life is a smorgasbord of ladies, booze and money, which while sounding fairly fantastic to me, is a hollow existence indeed. It takes a betrayal within his company (a la Batman, Iron Man, etc.) and being washed ashore an island to find some meaning. His journey into finding what he’s been missing his entire life is the highlight (and what do you think that is?), and the sight of seeing him in the “green hood” in the forest is a treat, especially with Jock’s pencils. He brings an up tempo style to a story that needs and thrives on it, and he can sure deliver the goods in a pinch during an action sequence. Andy Diggle does a really great job, because it takes good writing to make this more than just a rehash/mish mash of practically every superhero in comics. Because, come on, Green Arrow’s origin is hardly original (of course, most origins for superheroes are fairly formulaic, but this one is practically THE formula): rich businessman with a hole in his heart in a corrupt world, followed by a story of redemption. So while this series is fairly predictable due to that, and therefore rarely mindblowing (despite some sweet Green Arrow moments and opium), it definitely could have been very mediocre without such a good creative team. Ollie’s “mission” on the island is the entire Year One mini series, and quite honestly, I wanted to see more: I wanted to see him in Star City, I wanted to see him interacting with (and fucking) Dinah, I wanted the JLA to make an appearance, but that was not to be in a 6 issue mini series.

 

Booster Gold: 52 Pick-Up: Written by Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz, with art by Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund.

 

 

Booster was the first DC title I purchased in my comeback, and it’s still my favorite, especially after reading the first arc that set up the semi-orgasmic “Blue and Gold” Booster and Blue Beetle team-up that should never have been possible again. Booster Gold, after being a vital hero during 52 when Supes, Batman and Wonder Woman were missing, feels like he deserves a spot on the JLA. Rip Hunter, protector of the time stream, has more important plans for him, and predictably, they clash. Booster tells Rip to fuck off, essentially, to get his well deserved glory with JLA, but upon finding out the severity of Rip’s mission for Booster and his ironic, sarcastic and awesome robot Skeets, he has to reverse course, and work on saving the space time continuum from someone working on trying to end various superheroes before they ever existed or got their powers. We get some great guest stars here, with the JLA, Sinestro, Guy Gardner, Jonah Hex and the new Blue Beetle. Johns, as usual, uses his expansive knowledge of the DC Universe to wield a fantastic story. Booster Gold is more than just a funny title, it’s a time travel epic with the ability to go ANYWHERE in time that Johns wants to go, and if that doesn’t sound enticing to you, then you should quit comics. Creator of the Booster Gold, Dan Jurgens proves that he has more mettle with his pencil than his art (and you can tell he’s having fun here, and who wouldn’t with all these guest stars and visages of the Wild West, the future and Rip Hunter’s time sphere), and I find it admirable that he didn’t force his way into trying to write the title and wrest away his creation from Johns, who has made Booster Gold one of the biggest players in the DC Universe in the past year or so. In six issues, Johns has created a very solid core for a title that I will be reading for years to come. And for the record, this one is practically a tie with the next book on this list.

 

X-Men: Messiah Complex: Written by Ed Brubaker (Uncanny X-Men), Mike Carey (X-Men), Craig Kyle and Chris Yost (New X-Men) and Peter David (X-Factor), with art by Billy Tan (Uncanny X-Men), Marc Silvestri (Messiah CompleX one-shot), Chris Bachalo (X-Men), Scott Eaton (X-Factor) and Humberto Ramos (New X-Men).

 

 

Billed as one of the biggest and best X-crossovers in the past decade, this title completely lives up to it. The beauty of this whole trade is that issue to issue you don’t lose much of anything, especially in terms of the writing. Everything was choreographed perfectly and each writer had a great handle of all the characters being handled, and each issue just amped up the awesome. I’m running out of time, so I’m going to make this quick: It took a couple issues to get rolling, but once it did, I couldn’t stop reading until the end, which is saying something, since this hardcover features 13 jam packed issues. The future of the X-Men has never been so tenuous, what after Scarlet Witch went about massacring the race, and the turmoil within the team is also noticeable, with Xavier and Cyclops bickering at every turn. That was before the birth of the first mutant since M-Day, and one that is potentially one of the most powerful the world has seen, yada yada yada. Soon, the race is on to get said baby, with the X-Men and all their counterparts pulling out all the stops against Sinister and his Acolytes and a mysterious third party. Like Booster Gold, we also get some time travel sweetness here, courtesy of PAD himself in the X-Factor title, when Cyclops sends two of Madrox’s copies into the two potential futures that the world holds in store after the birth of the baby. And when there’s time travel, there’s Cable and Bishop, who are HUGE in this crossover, and make for some of the best and surprising moments to be had. Basically, aside from Magneto, you get to see every notable X-Men character there is, practically, and damn, is it good.

 

The Immortal Iron Fist: The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven: Written by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction, with art by David Aja and the legendary Howard Chaykin (for the annual, which coincidentally, is my least favorite because of his presence).

 

 

Following the stellar first arc of this title, this one just doubles the pleasure here. Danny Rand goes from being essentially a nobody in my world to one of my favorites, and it’s mostly due to the lore that Brubaker and Fraction create here. They have created an entire world, and rewritten the history of Kun’lun, the mystical city that houses the Fist’s powers. Like before, this arc continues featuring flashback stories of previous Iron Fist’s, and like before, we get a helluva lot of Hydra, some sweet martial arts action, and unlike before, we get to see the representatives of the 7 capital cities of heaven in a giant tournament of which kung fu has never seen, featuring such great newcomers (for the most part) as Fat Cobra, The Bride of Nine Spiders, The Prince of Orphans, Dog Brother #1 (I can’t wait for #2, because that’s the only thing that makes that name make sense), Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter and especially Davos, the Steel Serpent, Rand’s archenemy. At first, I expected a bunch of bouts between this group, and while there are some great action scenes, it really becomes the backdrop for the corruption and war that is brewing in Kun’lun, which is accompanied by a flashback story of Wendell Rand, Danny’s father and Davos, a story that answers why Wendell never had the Iron Fist. And last but not least, we get to see the good ole Heroes for Hire representatives, Luke Cage, Misty Knight and Colleen Wing. To save the best for last: David Aja. His art here is FUCKTASTIC, and is just as responsible for transforming Iron Fist from uninteresting to fascinating. He is a great talent in comics, and his departure from Iron Fist is disheartening to say the least. His art can be rendered dark and gritty, and bright and colorful and mystical, both things an Iron Fist title needs to be able to have, which shows the great work done by the rotation of colorists on the title.

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4 Responses to “Summer Reading Part Three: Take Another Bruboliday, With a Fraction of Diggle and Jock and a Jurgen”

  1. davidry214 Says:

    4. Kinda bizarre that the island was the entire mini. Seems like a “Year One” story should encompass the first year, not just the origin. I’ve heard enoguh of that creative team to make me figure it’s pretty good, but eh, I doubt I read it.

    3. Honestly, the biggest selling point I saw for Booster Gold was that he has a sarcastic robot. And that’s not a knack agaisnt the book, I’m just saying that sarcastic robots rock. They rock so hard they break stuff. The whole thing sounds cool though, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see myself trying out his ongoing in the next couple months.

    2. I haven’t read the full trade list you send me yet, but this might be one of the first ones I borrow. It sounds like the shit. The only thing I can imagine being rough is going from the art of Tan and Silvestri to Humberto Ramos. Ugh.

    1. Despite the fact that this is the one you liked the best, I found myself less pumped about it than Nos. 2 and 3. I think it’s probably something I’ll have to jsut see for myself someday, because while I like the character, I just don’t see myself getting interested enough to buy him, even though I clearly am missing out. Is Aja moving to something else soon? I’m intrigued by your raving on him.

  2. spiffyithaca Says:

    Well, Ollie was on the Island for a year, or close to it. Which makes sense, you don’t become a sweet archer in 3 weeks. But still, I would’ve liked it to encompass more than that.

    Oh you’d love Skeets. Buy Booster Gold. NOW.

    I completely forgot to write about the artists in Messiah Complex, which is retarded. Bachalo and Ramos were by far the weakest of the bunch, but they were actually easy to stomach, which is the best I’ve seen them do in years, and they can do action fairly well regardless. It’s everything else that sucks.

    Also: Layla plays a nice role in Messiah. I love how she’s a big character now. Best thing from House of M.

    I think you’re dumb for Iron Fist. When you want trades, I’m giving you the first Iron Fist trade no matter what.

  3. davidry214 Says:

    Yeah, I think I will try Booster as soon as Johns comes back. Seems pointless to jump on this month with a guest writer. I actually do like Chuck Dixon, but eh, even if it’s good, I can live without more Bats in my life.

    For some unknown reason, I’ve suddenly changed my mind and now want to try Iron Fist. So maybe you won’t have to shove it down my throat after all.

    And I don’t know if I’ve said it yet, but I’ve really enjoyed your Summer Reading series. It’s given me a lot to be interested in.

  4. spiffyithaca Says:

    That’s what she said. (to the down your throat bit)

    I’ll be trying Dixon’s Bat/Joker Booster story, but I’m not happy about it.

    And hurrah about Iron Fist. See other post about shipping trades to you.

    And thanks for the compliment. Summer Reading was fun and not as time consuming as you’d think, to do, and I’m glad you listened.

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