Checking In With The Big Two With Uncle Spiffy (Part Uno)

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It’s been awhile since I posted reviews for comics, and instead of forcing you to sit through that excruciating experience, I decided to just take a look at what’s been happening in the way too many titles I own, and check up with Marvel’s Dark Reign and whatever goddamned event is going on in DC this week (Origins & Omens is gimmicky, and yes, I know it ties into Blackest Night, but just give us Blackest Night!).

batmanalfred

"We'll have to do away with this one. There's no more laundry detergent, sir"

First, was X-Factor #39 really that good?

If you click on the above link, you’ll know that Goki and Rob have been swapping spit and other bodily juices daily over Peter David’s most recent issue of X-Factor. It took me a couple of weeks, but I took it upon myself to see what all the fuss was about (and let’s be honest, I was jealous of missing the blogger on blogger action). And?

Yes, it’s great. While I feel like the monumental plot twist that occured would’ve been that much more intense and surreal if I had been onboard since Day 1 or since House of M (when I dabbled in the PAD pool of fun), it’s clear David went a route that would rarely ever be taken by another creator, especially with their signature character. With the ending and a hook like that, whether you were awe stricken or not (I’d say that it was a good issue with a fucktastic moment), there’s no way you won’t buy issue 40.

How’s DC’s best couple doing?

Not so great. While Andrew Kreisberg has brought Green Arrow and Black Canary up a notch in quality, it’s still not enough to keep me grabbing another trick arrow. Honestly, while I love Ollie and Dinah, I’ve found myself enjoying Green Arrow’s own title a helluva lot more than the pair. I used to justify buying this because Green Arrow is my favorite DC character, but, like America’s economy, a recession of comicbook buying is necessary to stay afloat (being a smartass college student doesn’t pay nearly enough).

It Took Awhile, but Spiffy now knows: Green Lantern is the tits

While Simone’s Secret Six is great and getting better each month, the best title DC is putting out is Green Lantern. After buying Rage of the Red Lanterns on a whim and LOVING it, I’ve found the next couple GL issues to be exquisite, with Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis proving to be a match made in Oa. What’s stunning is that GL has undergone drastic changes in the past few years and is in the midst of HUGE goings on, yet I can find myself enjoying the hell out of the current storyline despite my relative ignorance. Just imagine what Final Crisis could have been had Geoff Johns written it. I don’t think there’s a title in comicdom more epic and wondrous than this one.

How’s Marvel’s darkest superhero doing?

With apologies to Daredevil, I mean Moon Knight. I’ve been reading the title since #1, and while Mike Benson has been terrific since taking over midway, following the big battle with the Thunderbolts and the semi anti-climactic ending, I find myself unsure about following in the new direction. Marc Spector is no more. In his place is Jake Lockley, and he’s in Mexico, doing cliche down and out things like hardcore boxing. Punisher is showing up in the current arc, but surprisingly, that isn’t a big draw to keep me onboard.

If Only Humphrey Bogart Existed in Comicbook Form…

…but both X-Men and Spider-Man Noir, on issue #3 and 2, respectively, come pretty close. I’ve heard mixed things about each title, but I found myself enjoying each issue, even if I find myself wanting more for its $3.99 cover price. And maybe that’s just Bogie and Bacall withdrawal manifesting itself, because each issue is creative and delivers a winning noir take on Marvel’s most popular characters. X-Men Noir also comes with a nice pulp story about Nimrod and the Sentinels, turning X-history on its head. I would give the nod of the two to X-Men Noir because of the superior art done by the fantastically dark Dennis Calero (Spider-Man’s Fabrice Sapolsky has his merits too, though), but my gut tells me these titles would read better in trade.

How are them X-titles?

Uncanny X-Men, despite the highly publicized arrivals of Brubaker and Fraction, remains stuck in gear. It’s not bad, and it helps that Greg Land and the Dodsons are on art chores, but I find myself uninterested in whats going on. I like the Hellfire Club just as much as the next guy, but meh. And Colossus’ mid life crisis is already boring. But, surprisingly, a Dark Reign tie-in, the recent Annual, written by Matt Fraction with art by Mitch Breitweiser and Daniel Acuna, provides solace. It’s purely an Emma Frost issue, who finds herself in a precarious position in the X-Men’s ranks due to her new involvement with Norman Osborne and the “Dark” Illuminati. The fun comes with a look at her history with Namor (hint: Emma’s a slut) and the dynamic that occurs with their reunion. While Fraction’s portrayal of Tony Stark rings hollow (although it can be argued he was playing up the dumb playboy mystique of that day), this was a highly interesting issue that could portend trouble with the one-eyed man. Also of note, the very interesting art by Daniel Acuna (one of Marvel’s “Young Guns”, whatever that means) and the strongest effort I’ve seen by Breitweiser to date, taking on a Maleevian flavor (always a good thing).

So what does all this mean? Read the annuals folks! As far as the regular title goes….

…it’s a distant second place to X-Men Legacy, Mike Carey’s opus to the “Rubiks cube”, Professor Xavier. Scot Eaton returns from a brief respite, which is a good thing, as Carey and Eaton have consistently delivered the best issues of this series. What I really enjoy about this title is that each month it’s featuring characters completely different, but there’s also an underlying purpose behind it all, as Xavier seeks to make amends of his past and mend his fragmented mind in the process. Gambit. Rogue. Juggernaut. Wolverine’s son (excuse me, “Dark Wolverine”, gross). Lilandra. There’s always something new to be gleaned, and it’s always a fascinating trip down memory lane.

Kick-Ass is overhyped and Millar’s mainstream superhero offerings aren’t

Millar, with the help of the immortal Bryan Hitch and Steve McNiven, is currently in the middle of reenergizing two of Marvel’s longest running titles: Fantastic Four and Wolverine. I know I wondered if anyone can do something new with the FF after Mark Waid, but Millar has succeeded, bringing in unique and giant/cosmic/celestial ideas each issue. First there was Nu Earth and introducing Reed’s first flame…then there was the death of the Invisible Woman, a story that was practically a playground flowing with creativy and verve. And now there’s Thing, getting married. And even bigger…..there’s the Masters of Doom, who apparently taught Doom all he knew. This final one makes me queasy, because it seems unlike Doom to be inferior to anyone…but since Millar has delivered everything else pitch perfect…I’m holding my doubts in check.

The other title is Wolverine. I’ll be honest, if it weren’t for Millar and McNiven, I wouldn’t be caught dead near this title. I hardly care about Logan, but “Old Man Logan”, a futuristic take on Wolverine, is good shit. Like Fantastic Four, Millar is unlimited in his scope to fuck around with these characters. Hawkeye and Logan’s cross country road trip against a desolate America has been pure fun, but last issue, using Kevin Smith’s favorite Spider-Man villain, Millar has turned the tide to unsettling and dark.

The common chord with these titles are of course that they are pretty much stand alone stories, perhaps out of continuity (in the case of Wolverine). Fantastic Four acts in isolation besides all other Marvel titles, Secret Invasion and Dark Reign be damned. So far, it’s worked, and honestly, I like that Millar has been able to tell his stories without being bogged down with current events and crossovers (something PAD in particular has had problems with, and who could blame him?). I will be interested if all the things that Millar has introduced have long term ramifications in the MU, because I hope the next creator doesn’t just reboot all over again. FF has become fun and epic again. And Wolverine, clearly either an Elseworlds story or a Wolverine: The End type story, I also don’t have a problem with, because again, it’s fucking good. Now, the case can be made that by acting outside continuity or finding yourself with little in the way of boundaries in limitations makes writing a helluva lot more easier. And that’s certainly true, but I’m still enjoying the ride.

How’s the Messiah Child doing?

Apparently there’s going to be a big old Cable crossover coming up. If I was a good blogger, which I’ve never been accused of, I’d look it up and see more about what it’s about. But either way, while Cable, with the help of writer Duane Swierczynski and artist Ariel Olivetti, has been a fun and good title, I think it’s about time it comes crashing back into the present. There’s only so many jumps Hope and Cable can take, and I’m assuming this crossover will bring the messiah child back into the thick of it. Messiah CompleX was awesome, so I have high hopes, but then again, I would’ve been fine just using the Cable title to tell this story (because if not, what’s it for?).

Travel Foreman, finally, has won me over

Since Swierczynski took over for Brubaker and Fraction on Immortal Iron Fist, the only problem has been the absence of new stud David Aja (coming soon to Daredevil, and in other news, so am I), because in my mind, Travel Foreman has not been the best of choices for the title. He’s kinda unclear and messy and a little too ugly/gritty for martial arts mayhem.

But now, since Iron Fist and the other six Immortal Weapons find themselves in the Eighth City, which is pretty much, as we find out, hell. And it’s quite clear from the beginning that Foreman can draw hellish monstrous things damn well. While it’s not good news for Danny Rand, Hell is a pretty good place to be if you’re Foreman, and a good place to be as a reader.

Batman Fucking Died?!

Color me impressed/shocked/flabbergasted/flaccid/angry/sad/what have you that DC actually went forward with Batman RIP in the first place, even if it had to occur outside of the actual storyline. I’m still unconvinced that it’s actually happened, and will be for quite some time, even with the upcoming Battle for the Cowl event coming full steam ahead. While I find the Battle for the Cowl thing odd, I’ll definitely be onboard to see what the hell happens. It just doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense to me. I don’t get that all Bruce’s pals would up and fight over becoming Batman, and not let all alone and fight as who you want to be. Nobody’s going to live up to Batman. Ever. And I hope that’s how it ends and they realize they need to stop fucking around (or if the new Azrael turns out to be Bruce-y himself and he wins the battle royale).

But before I completely prematurely blow my load on that upcoming event, let us now look in on Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert’s two part tale “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?”  (in Batman #686 and Detective Comics #853) We at GGG stroke our various body parts for all things Gaiman (Rob’s even met the man!), so this issue brings with it much enthusiasm. Does it live up the hype? Well, that will depend on the next issue, so I’ll reserve judgment overall, but part 1 was a wild and wacky look into Batman’s assorted history, showing us Batman’s funeral with all sorts of figures from his past, both rogues and friends, and not all from the same point in time (golden age, silver age, now, etc.), making an appearance (with Selena Kyle and Alfred telling everyone how he died). I have a few theories about what all this means, and I’m sure everyone has their own as well, and we’ll have to see what it all has to do with Batman and Bruce Wayne’s future (if there is one). Andy Kubert does as good a job here as I’ve ever seen him, drawing every character with flair in a tribute to the past greats who have worked on DC’s best hero.

 And that’s all for right now…keep an eye out for Part II where I cover Dark Reign…

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2 Responses to “Checking In With The Big Two With Uncle Spiffy (Part Uno)”

  1. Gokitalo Says:

    *snaps fingers* you beat me to reviews! Although given how much I have to do for this week, I probably would have finished them by the time new comics came out…

    Haven’t read through it all yet, but I liked the format of your post. Spiffy-O is back with a vengeance!

  2. hypergraffic Says:

    I too am reserving my judgment on “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader”. I mean, do I even need to say it? “This is NEIL FUCKIN’ GAIMAN.” Of course it’s going to be engrossing and fascinating and a mind-fuck. But I still need to know what’s gonna happen in Part II.

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